Friday 18 October 2013

Tony Benedict’s Hanna-Barbera Documentary

Tony Benedict arrived at Hanna-Barbera during the studio’s best period. Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw cartoons were still being made (the originals, not watered-down team-ups that were foisted on kids). The studio was taking a risk going prime-time as “The Flintstones” was about to launch. And most of the original employees of the studio who’d worked on theatrical cartoons at MGM were still there, joined by great people like Warren Foster, Mike Maltese and Art Davis from Warners. What a great atmosphere for a young guy to come into.

Tony had the great foresight to document his time at Hanna-Barbera on film. And, like many artists, he sketched little vignettes and gags about life at the studio. He saved it all, too. And now, he’s putting it together for a documentary about the studio’s Golden Era.

He’s been working on this for some time but, now, he’s going the Kickstarter route to get it made. As you probably know, Kickstarter is where fans can help get projects made. Please click on THIS ADDRESS to learn more about Tony’s project. Or you can read about it HERE on Facebook. There’s a video you can see about it, too.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy seeing pictures of the guys who made all those great old theatrical cartoons. Here’s a nice shot of Joe Barbera talking to Warren Foster inside the H-B studio, with Bill Hanna and his sucker behind them. This one will, I suspect, be part of the documentary.

And this is a frame grab of a home movie shot of Bick Bickenbach who was, more or less, the head layout guy when the studio started in 1957. He was a fine animator at Warners (Freleng and Tashlin units) before moving to layout at MGM in the mid-‘40s. He was a pretty good baritone, too. Bick took Ed Benedict’s character models, modified them a bit and put them on sheets for the animators. I gather Mr. Benedict (Ed, not Tony) wasn’t altogether happy with the end result. I wish I could tell you about “The Phone Story” on the wall in the background.

And this is the great Carlo Vinci.

I’ve had a chance to talk to Tony about his career at Hanna-Barbera. Unfortunately, circumstances were such on my end that I only had a half hour to chat after being up all night and before going to work. We didn’t touch on a lot of specific things I’d have liked to have talked about, only the surface was scratched. But it may give you an idea about how the H-B cartoons were put together in an age before corporate interference. And during. Want to know why the re-mounted “Jetsons” cartoons of the ‘80s weren’t as good as the originals? Tony was there and explains the reason. Note that the interview was recorded before the Kickstarter project was pushed back a bit. Press the arrow to hear.


  1. Wow, this sounds like a potentially amazing documentary. I'd love to see it!

    1. Well then pal, You better pledge every red cent ya got to the film's kickstarter, it has 17 days to go - it seeks $300k for it's completion

    2. Unfortunately, Lord Z, it was supposed to be 30 days. The start was pushed back but no one told the people at Kickstarter. The countdown clock was ticking even though the campaign was still in draft mode.

  2. Wow...first time hearing your voice! Fine voice..Tony Benedict wound up running his own studio...maybe he'll mention that one cartoon XMas movie he did.Steve

  3. And I just remembered what the open music was, the Jack Shaindlin cues played sometime under Quick Draw when throwing a dog biscuit to Snuffles or in the Augie/Doggie short "Fan Clubbed" (1959) when playing Tarzan, the one that sounds like squirrels.

  4. That's a great interview, Yowp! Thanks allot for putting it up!

  5. Great interview, Yowp. Looking forward to hearing more about this documentary.