Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Life At Hanna-Barbera

Hundreds of pictures of the Hanna-Barbera operation were taken for a Life magazine story published on November 21, 1961. We blogged about it HERE, linked to a copy of the original article and posted some of the photos that didn’t make the cut.

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera should be recognisable to anyone who’s a fan of the studio. But I wouldn’t expect many people to be able to look at photos and pick out very many who worked for the company. There were people in some of the shots I didn’t recognise, so I asked Tony Benedict, who was hired by the studio not long after the pictures were taken, to identify a few people. And he’s graciously done so.

Here are Bill and Joe looking into a Moviola, used in the studio’s editing department. Joe is on the right, of course, with Bill next to him. To the left of Bill is Frank Paiker, the head of the camera department and an animation veteran. Paiker was a cameraman for J.R. Bray as early as 1925, at the age of 16, and he spent the ‘30s at the Fleischer studio (his nose was broken by animator Lou Appet during the strike at the studio), moving with the Fleischers to Florida. He was at MGM at the time its cartoon studio shut down and, presumably, moved over to Hanna-Barbera when it started in 1957. We will identify the man on the far left in another photo.

Paiker was born in Manhattan on January 21, 1909 and died in Santa Barbara, Calif., on January 26, 1989.

Here’s Paiker at work shooting an early Flintstones cartoon. Whether this picture was taken the same day, I don’t know. You’ll note Paiker isn’t wearing a striped T-shirt in this photo.

Paiker’s at work again. He’s shooting a scene from the episode “At the Races.” The disembodied heads and the dinosaurs are by Carlo Vinci.

And speaking of Carlo, I believe that’s him on the left, speaking to Mr. B.

Joe Barbera’s relaxing in his office. Sitting in the centre is Warren Foster, who wrote many of the Flintstones episodes in the first season. The guy behind the cardboard Fred is the same chap at the left of the first picture above. He’s not an artist, nor a voice actor, nor on the technical staff. He’s the studio’s publicity and promotion director, Arnie Carr.

Carr worked for syndicator Ziv Television until September 1955, when he joined Irving Fein’s publicity staff at CBS radio in Los Angeles. There’s an inside joke on the network’s Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; the name of a supposedly dead man in one of the episodes was named for him. Carr moved to KABC-TV in May 1957, then jumped to Screen Gems in August 1959 to promote its TV releases, including Ruff and Reddy, Huckleberry Hound (“and has two more series coming,” said Variety on August 3, 1959; one was obviously Quick Draw McGraw). Carr worked directly for Hanna-Barbera from March 1960 to September 1962, when he opened his own company and took in H-B as a client. Carr’s firm doesn’t appear to have lasted long; in 1966 he was co-producing a TV show starring, of all people, catty fashion commentator Mr. Blackwell.

Since we’re posting pictures from the Life shoot, let’s pass on a few more.

Bill Hanna’s chatting with someone during the recording session. No, it’s not Hoyt Curtin.

At the time of the photo shoot, Hanna-Barbera had recently moved from the Kling studio on La Brea to a small building at 3501 Cahuenga, not far from where their future complex would be built. Many staffers—even animators—worked from home. Here’s an inker in her kitchen. Do they still make bread boxes?

Here’s Carlo again, getting the right mouth position for Fred Flintstone. The record player, I suspect, is to listen to the voice track. Cheap-looking desks, aren’t they? You can see a layout drawing from “The Golf Champion,” with Fred and Barney fighting over the trophy. In the background (next to Dick Lundy’s desk), there is a model sheet of Fred and Barney, and another of Betty and Wilma. Here’s a copy of the Fred/Barney one.

Now, back to the Life pictures.

Bill Hanna, story sketch artist Dan Gordon and Joe Barbera. An ashtray that’s empty? I smell staged photo for some reason.

The 1960 Los Angeles phone directory has Joe Barbera listed in an apartment at 1745 North Orange Drive. I suspect this poolside shot was taken elsewhere. Barbera and his wife Dorothy had three kids—Jayne, Neal and Lynn. The couple divorced in June 1963. Jayne and Neal later worked at the studio. Incidentally, one of the other tenants of that Orange Drive apartment building may have saved up enough for his own pool, too. He was an actor named Bernie Kopell.

Life had a few external pictures of the H-B studio but not a full one. Here’s how 3501 Cahuenga looks today.


  1. Can't get enough of those behind the scenes photos. Love them, H-B, or WB. I'm sure Ol Bernie with all the credits he was starting to chalk up at that time and forward was able buy his own pool. Kind of sad seeing the little empty studio sitting on the corner. Especially when you think of everything that went on behind those walls.

  2. Wow great photos hardly ever see early H-B pictures

  3. Worked in the Camera Dept. with Frank Paiker, loved every minute of my time there.