How Hanna-Barbera revolutionized animation

Last updated on January 31st, 2023 at 06:19 pm

Hanna-Barbera company, formed by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna, was an American animation studio founded and formed in 1957 by the most successful directing team in animation history. 

The company produced some of the most iconic and beloved animated television shows of all time, including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Scooby-Doo. However, for almost two decades, their most successful work (Tom and Jerry) has been part of many households and the names Tom and Jerry almost became synonymous with cartoons.

Hanna and Barbera

The Early Lives of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera

The son of Joyce Hanna and William John, William Denby Hanna lived on the opposite sides of the country with Joseph Barbera before they ever thought of working together. 

Hanna was born in 1910 in Melrose, New Mexico. He developed an early interest in art and animation, and after high school, however, that did not become his initial college course as he enrolled in journalism and engineering, but later, he joined the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. 

In 1930, he began working as an animator for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio. Over the next few decades, he worked on many popular animated films, including Puss Gets the Boot, which introduced the character of Tom the cat (who would later become the iconic Tom and Jerry).

Joseph Barbera was born in New York City in 1911. He also developed an early interest in art and animation after high school. However, like Hanna, he also did not start out in the art school as one would expect but studied accountancy at the America Institute of Banking. 

Later, he decided to attend the Art Students League of New York. In 1932, he began working as an animator for the Van Beuren Studios and later moved on to work for the MGM studio. Like Hanna, Barbera worked on many popular animated films during this time, including Puss Gets the Boot and The Milky Way.

Hanna and Barbera Join Forces

Hanna and Barbera first met in 1937, when they both started working at the MGM studio. They quickly formed a strong working relationship, and in 1940 they produced their first joint project, an animated short film called Puss Gets the Boot. 

This film was a huge success, and it led to the creation of the Tom and Jerry series, which would become one of the most popular and enduring animated franchises of all time.

In 1957, Hanna and Barbera decided to leave MGM and start their own animation studio. They founded Hanna-Barbera Productions, and in the same year, they produced their first television show, The Ruff and Reddy Show. This show was a hit, and many other successful series, including The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Yogi Bear Show, and The Flintstones followed it.

The Flinstones and Other Popular Shows

The Flintstones, which premiered in 1960, was especially significant because it was the first animated television show to be produced in prime time. It was an instant success and spawned several spinoff series and specials. Some of the spinoffs ended up very successful, while others did not. The notable ones include The Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm Show, and The Flintstone Comedy Hour.

In 1960 – 1970, Hanna-Barbera continued to produce many popular animated television shows, including The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The All New Popeye Hour, and The Smurfs. 

These shows were known for their memorable characters, catchy theme songs, and witty writing, and they helped to solidify Hanna-Barbera’s reputation as a leader in the animation industry.

Later Animation Work

In the 1980s and 1990s, Hanna-Barbera continued to produce successful animated television shows, including The Smurfs, The Snorks, and The Powerpuff Girls

However, the company also faced some challenges during this time, as it struggled to keep up with the changing tastes of audiences and the increasing competition from other studios.

Despite these challenges, Hanna-Barbera remained a beloved and influential presence in the animation industry until the end. William Hanna passed away in 2001, but Joseph Barbera continued to work as an executive producer at the studio until his death in 2006. 

Today, Hanna-Barbera is remembered as one of the most innovative and influential animation studios of all time, and its legacy continues to be felt in the many animated television shows and films that have followed in its footsteps.

Hanna-Barbera also had a significant presence in the world of film. The studio produced several successful animated feature films, including Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!, which was released in 1964, and Charlotte’s Web, which was released in 1973.

In the 1990s, Hanna-Barbera also expanded its operations to include producing live-action television shows and films. Some of the company’s most notable live-action productions include The New Adventures of Jonny Quest, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest.

The impact of Hanna-Barbera

Hanna-Barbera was known for its commitment to producing high-quality, family-friendly entertainment, and this focus helped to earn the company a loyal and devoted fan base. 

Many of the shows produced by the studio, such as The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo, have stood the test of time and remain popular with audiences today.

In addition to its contributions to the entertainment world, Hanna-Barbera also made significant contributions to the field of animation. The company was at the forefront of using limited animation techniques, which allowed animators to produce shows more efficiently and at a lower cost. 

This innovation helped to make animation more accessible and affordable, and it paved the way for the proliferation of animated television shows and films that we see today.

Hanna-Barbera was an influential and innovative force in the world of animation. 

From its humble beginnings in the 1950s to its status as a leader in the industry, the company left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment and on the field of animation. 

Today, it is remembered as one of the most beloved and respected animation studios of all time, and its legacy continues to inspire and entertain audiences worldwide.

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