“yabba dabba doo”

 

ROW 1: William Hanna with a couple of his pals; A frame from Tom & Jerry’s first film “The Yankee Doodle Mouse” which was nominated for an Academy Award; Hanna & his friend and long time business partner Joseph Barbera. ROW 2: The Jetsons; Jonny Quest. ROW 3: Ruff and Reddy; Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy. (I wonder how many dogs have been named after these guys) ROW 4: Pixie and Dixie; The Smurfs (Hey Grandpa Smurf, who’s the hottie?); Josie and the Pussycats. ROW 5: The Flintstones and their neighbors the Rubbles; Huckleberry Hound; Magilla Gorilla. ROW 6: Mr. Jinks; Quick Draw McGraw; Atom Ant; Top Cat; Yogie Bear and his weakness for pic-a-nic baskets. ROW 7: I love this Huckleberry Hound cap; Huckleberry Hound for President pin (I hear he still gets votes); a Boo-Boo thumb drive (poor Boo-Boo); One of the many Academy Awards Hanna and Barbera won over the years.

 

Isn’t it cool how just a few words can trigger images and memories?  For me, as a kid, I loved watching cartoons – Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones, Spider-Man, Superman, Speed Racer, Ultraman and who could forget The Roadrunner to name just a few! Like recalling old Seinfeld episodes, I remember best buddies Barney and Fred, hard bosses like Mr. Orwell or the Tom & Jerry chase scenes with fondness. On Saturday mornings before chores and the day’s events, I’d steal away just a little time and hang with my brothers and sisters watching our favorites.  Poking around the web this week, I stumbled across the name William Hanna, of the famous Hanna/Barbera team, and found out that today, July 14, was his birthday.  Digging deeper, I learned about an unusually talented guy, who took multiple life experiences and blended them into an amazing career that touched the lives of millions of adults and families.  All our journeys are different, built on places, people we meet, teams we build and chances we take to make a difference.  For me, it’s all about thermal processing, solving your PIA (Pain in the @#$) Jobs, hard work, family, faith and friends.  Hope you enjoy this recap of a truly talented man, and thanks Wikipedia for the details.

 

  1. William Denby “Bill” Hanna was an American animator, director, producer, voice actor, and cartoon artist, whose film and television cartoon characters entertained millions of people for much of the 20th century.
  2. William Hanna was born to William John and Avice Joyce (Denby) Hanna on July 14, 1910 in Melrose, New Mexico. The third of seven children and the only son, Hanna described his family as “a red-blooded, Irish-American family”.  His father was a construction superintendent for railroads as well as water and sewer systems throughout the western regions of America, requiring the family to move frequently.
  3. When Hanna was three years old, the family moved to Baker City, Oregon, where his father worked on the Balm Creek Dam. It was here that Hanna developed his love of the outdoors.  The family moved to Logan, Utah, then to San Pedro, California, and eventually settled in Watts, California, in 1919.
  4. In 1922, while living in Watts, he joined the Boy Scouts and attended Compton High School from 1925 through 1928, where he played the saxophone in a dance band.  His passion for music carried over into his career where he helped write songs for his cartoons, including the theme for The Flintstones.  Hanna became an Eagle Scout as a youth and remained active in Scouting throughout his life.  As an adult, he served as a Scoutmaster and was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with their Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1985.  Despite his numerous career-related awards, Hanna was most proud of this Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. His interests also included sailing and singing in a barbershop quartet.
  5. Hanna studied both journalism and structural engineering at Compton City College, but had to drop out of college with the onset of the Great Depression.  In 1936, Hanna married Violet Blanch Wogatzke, a marriage that lasted over 64 years (WOW!), producing two children.
  6. Hanna worked briefly as a construction engineer and helped build the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. He lost that job during the Great Depression and found another at a car wash. His sister’s boyfriend encouraged him to apply for a job at Pacific Title and Art, which produced title cards for motion pictures.  While working there, Hanna’s talent for drawing became evident, and in 1930 he joined the Harman and Ising animation studio, which had created the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. Despite a lack of formal training, Hanna soon became head of their ink and paint department and wrote songs and lyrics.
  7. During 1938–1939, he served as a senior director on MGM’s Captain and the Kids series, based upon the comic strip of the same name. Hanna’s desk at MGM was opposite that of Joseph Barbera, who had previously worked at Terrytoons. The two quickly realized they would make a good team. By 1939 they had solidified a partnership that would last over 60 years.
  8. Hanna and Barbera worked alongside the famous animation director Tex Avery, who had created Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny for Warner Bros. and directed Droopy cartoons at MGM.
  9. In 1940, Hanna and Barbera jointly directed Puss Gets the Boot, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best (Cartoon) Short Subject. Despite the success, their Hanna supervisor, Fred Quimby, did not want to produce more “cat and mouse” cartoons. After much resistance, Quimby finally gave Hanna and Barbera permission to pursue their idea, resulting in their most famous creation, Tom and Jerry.
  10. Hanna said they settled on the cat and mouse theme because he knew he needed two primary characters for conflict, and friendship, and a cat after a mouse seemed like a good, basic thought.  Over the next 17 years Hanna and Barbera worked almost exclusively on Tom and Jerry, directing more than 114 highly popular cartoon shorts and wartime animated training films.
  11. Despite its popularity, Tom and Jerry has often been criticized as excessively violent. Nonetheless, the series won its first Academy Award for the 11th short, The Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943)—a war-time adventure.
  12. In 1955, Hanna and Barbera were placed in charge of MGM’s animation division. As the studio began to lose revenue due to television, MGM realized that re-releasing old cartoons was far more profitable than producing new ones. In 1957, MGM ordered Hanna and Barbera’s business manager to close the cartoon division and lay off everyone by a phone call.  Hanna and Barbera found the no-notice closing puzzling because Tom and Jerry had been so successful.
  13. In 1957 Hanna reteamed with Joseph Barbera to produce cartoons for television and theatrical release. The two brought different skills to the company; Barbera was a skilled gag writer and sketch artist, while Hanna had a gift for timing, story construction, and recruiting top artists. Major business decisions would be made together, though each year the title of president alternated between them. A coin toss determined that Hanna would have precedence in the naming of the new company, first called H-B Enterprises but soon changed to Hanna–Barbera Productions.
  14. The first offering from the new company was The Ruff & Reddy Show, a series which detailed the friendship between a dog and cat. Hanna–Barbera soon established themselves with two successful television series: The Huckleberry Hound Show and The Yogi Bear Show. A 1960 survey showed that half of the viewers of Huckleberry Hound were adults, which prompted the company to create a new animated series, The Flintstones, based on a parody of The Honeymooners. The new show followed a typical Stone Age family with home appliances, talking animals, and celebrity guests. With an audience of both children and adults, The Flintstones became the first animated prime-time show to be a hit.
  15. The company later produced a space-age version of The Flintstones, known as The Jetsons. Although both shows reappeared in the 1970s and 1980s, The Flintstones was far more popular.
  16. By the late 1960s, Hanna–Barbera Productions was the most successful television animation studio in the business, producing over 3000 animated half-hour television shows. Among the more than 100 cartoon series and specials they produced were: Atom Ant, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, Jonny Quest, Josie and the Pussycats, Magilla Gorilla, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks, Quick Draw McGraw, Top Cat, Scooby-Doo and the Smurfs – (how many characters can you name?)
  17. Hanna–Barbera was key in the development of limited animation, which allowed television animation to be more cost-effective. To reduce the cost of each episode, shows often focused more on character dialogue than detailed animation. The number of drawings for a seven-minute cartoon decreased from 14,000 to only about 2,000, and the company implemented innovative techniques such as rapid background changes to improve viewing. Reviewers criticized the change from vivid, detailed animation to repetitive movements by two-dimensional characters. The new style did not limit the success of their animated shows, enabling Hanna–Barbera to stay in business, providing employment to many who would otherwise have been out of work. Limited animation became the standard for television animation, and continues to be used today in television programs such as The Simpsons and South Park.
  18. In 1967, Hanna-Barbera was sold to Taft Broadcasting for $12 million, but Hanna and Barbera remained heads of the company until 1991, when it was sold to Turner Broadcasting System ($320 million), which in turn was merged with Time Warner in 1996, where Hanna and Barbera stayed on as advisors.
  19. Hanna and Barbera won seven Academy Awards and eight Emmy Awards. Their cartoons have become cultural icons, and their cartoon characters have appeared in other media such as films, books, and toys. Hanna-Barbera’s shows had a worldwide audience of over 300 million people in their 1960s heyday, and have been translated into more than 28 languages.
  20. Most of the cartoons Hanna and Barbera created revolved around close friendship or partnership; a reflection of the close business friendship and partnership that Hanna and Barbera shared for almost 60 years. This theme is evident with Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, Ruff and Reddy, The Jetsons family and Scooby-Doo and Shaggy Rogers, as well as Cartoon Network characters that Hanna-Barbera created such as Johnny Bravo and Carl, Cow and Chicken and their schoolmates Flem and Earl, I.M. Weasel and I.R. Babboon, Dexter and his supercomputers, and the Powerpuff Girls. (I have to admit not a big fan of the Powerpuff Girls!)
  21. Hanna is considered one of the all-time great animators and on a par with Tex Avery. Hanna and Barbera were among the most successful animators on the cinema screen and successfully adapted to the change television brought to the industry. Leonard Maltin says the Hanna–Barbera team “[may] hold a record for producing consistently superior cartoons using the same characters year after year—without a break or change in routine. Their characters are not only animated superstars, but also a very beloved part of American pop culture.”
  22. In all, the Hanna–Barbera team won seven Academy Awards and eight Emmy Awards, along with numerous awards for television achievement, licensing, youth entertainment, music, the Governors Award of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and induction into the Television Hall of Fame to name just a few.

 

 


 

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