In tribute to the life and career of Joseph Barbera, AWN has collected the thoughts and memories of many in the animation community remembering the influence this legend had on their lives and careers.
When I got the news in 2001 that legendary animator William Hanna had died, I dreaded the day the other shoe would drop. That day finally came, Dec. 12, 2006, when Hanna's lifelong collaborator -- the ultimate animation pitchman -- Joseph Barbera passed away. His zest for his art and life propelled him to keep on producing and directing to the age of 95, when that smarter than average creator who did all the thin'in' for so many took his exit -- stage left.
I was so fortunate to work for both these great mean, at the start of my career, with extra access to them as their publicist for 13 years. Well loved by so many, Barbera loved people. He studied them, he entertained them, he mimicked them, he comforted them.
With all his accomplishments and honors, he was humble and respectful of persons in every capacity. He knew all played an important role in his professional and personal life. He never rested on his laurels, but started each day and enterprise fresh, bouncing back from failures, dodging slings and arrows, inventing a new step to the dance.
It's when great pain and love we mark the end of fun and fine era in animation. AWN has collected thoughts, photos and recollections from many who had their lives touched by this wonderful man. We culminate with the beautiful tribute from his daughter, Jayne Barbera, she read at the memorial Warner Bros. held earlier this year to celebrate his life. Feel free to add your thoughts in our comments section.
Let me just add my most inspiring recollection. It was early one morning; he had just finished doing a live interview at a radio station in Los Angeles. He had been charming, engaging with the host. As we headed back to the car, a production assistant in the station mustered enough courage to ask Barbera if he might be able to contribute an animation memento to his school's charity benefit. Barbera was charming to him, asked him about his studies and career and promised he would be sure to get something to him.
Back in the car, out of sight, he looked weary and sighed. Knowing how bombarded he was daily with requests and business, I asked him if he got tired of people asking him to do something for them all the time. He patted my hand and said, "It's OK. They're only asking me because I can." It was, and still is, the most empowering thing I've ever heard.
Sarah Baisley, Editor in chief, AWN, former HB publicity director
They were not only great creators of cartoons, which they demonstrated they could do for the first 15-20 years at MGM -- they were awfully good at that. But they did an even better job when they formed Hanna-Barbera. They created disruptive technology and they disrupted an entire industry. Nobody thought at the time cartoons could move to television and nobody saw this move as important as it was going to be over the next 40 years. So they were revolutionary in terms of their vision and courage and foresight to be able to see the importance of this new medium and be able to capitalize on it.
Dad and Joe had a philosophy that the team was very important. I think one of the key reasons for their success and their 70-year relationship is that they knew how to build great teams of people. They had a lot of individual contributors, but it was a superb team effort with a philosophy of inclusion and teamwork. And they were great motivators.
The reason I'm convinced they were able to work well into their 80s and be vibrant and contribute is because they loved what they were doing. It wasn't about money; it was about passion.
David Hanna, Bill Hanna's son
Joe Barbera's creative talent will give enjoyment to generations of kids and adults to come. My honor is to have played a small part as a cartoonist working with him at Hanna-Barbera for many years.
Gary Hoffman, Former HB layout supervisor
I started to work at H&B in 1960! The "new building" was not completed yet, so we occupied a building up the block, at 3501 Cahuenga Blvd. We were all on one floor and Bill & Joe's doors were always open to us, thereby creating a warm, friendly atmosphere that is lacking all but the smallest studios today. They also continued the Disney & MGM tradition of ALL people in animation on a first-name basis. The only people who addressed Joe as "Mr. Barbera" where the office workers.
Although he was not trained as an artist (he majored in finance in college) he had a natural ability that a cartoonist must have. I remember as an animation checker, being in the "sweat box" as we used to do, viewing one of our shorts with him. We would take notes on the retake corrections he wanted, and, in the darkened room, he would, with a few deft strokes, indicate with a "pencil," the attitude or action he required! This was a talent that could not be taught, just possibly refined in an animator. Although he was mainly involved with the story and the writers, his genius was an artistic whole. Those were the "Golden Days" of animation, particularly in television.
Merle Welton, Animation checker
I have so many fond memories of Joe Barbera -- what a guy! I was announcing many of the CBS-TV cartoon promos fro Joe & Bill and Fred Silverman. Then, about the time the great artist Alex Toth was sketching Space Ghost, something wonderful happened. They chose me to do the hero voice - and I did it from 1966 to 1994. It was great working with our marvelous cast - Tim Matheson, Ginny Tyler & Don Messick. With all the famous guest stars, it was like being part of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater! I was so lucky to do a number of HB cartoon series, Blue Falcon & Dynomutt, Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Scooby-Doo's All Stars, Yogi Bear's Space Race, Swat Cat!, etc. Incidentally, my long-time friend George Sidney, the famous movie director, put up some of the financing when Joe & Bill first began.
Gary Owens, Voice actor
In 1982, the production staff arrived one Monday morning to find time clocks installed for punching in each morning and out at night. The animators were furious. Some threatened to quit. Before a day or so went by we got this memo:
"Joe and I do not know how it happened but over the weekend some sneaky guy climbed over the fence and installed a bunch of damn time clocks in our studio.
We want you to know that we have ordered them taken out which will be pretty darn quick because we were pretty emphatic about it. All of us here in management would much rather have your goodwill than all of the time clocks in the country.
We know that we have a group of conscientious and dedicated employees. We feel that we have always had a warm, friendly relationship with each of you. We appreciate having your good will and want to do everything we can to deserve it.
Signed Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna
Jean Ann Wright, Author, Animation Writing and Development
I confess I didn't really know Joe Barbera all that well. It seems I was continually working one on one with Mr. Hanna, but I usually only saw Joe in meetings. He sure seemed like a nice enough guy and always said, "Hi" when you passed him in the hallway. Other than that I can't say I really knew him. What I did know was that he and Mr. Hanna made a great team. They were the last of the old studio guys who helped create this fantastic business. For that, they'll always have my admiration and respect.
Of course, being an old animation cartoonist, Joe Barbera along with Bill Hanna provided me with unlimited opportunities for gags. I must have drawn hundreds while working at Hanna-Barbera during the seventies and eighties. Many of these have been compiled in my gag book collections. Many industry veterans have told me how much they enjoyed my gags about these two fabulous gentlemen. Though I enjoyed "picking on" our bosses, it was all done in fun, and I've always had the greatest respect for Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Floyd Norman, Animator
Two years ago I spent an afternoon with Joe Barbera in his Sherman Oaks office at Warner Bros. Animation. Our meeting was to discuss a book about Hanna-Barbera and to ask Joe for his thoughts, which he willingly shared with me. When I entered his office I was surprised to see him in a wheel chair. Joe was a vibrant, quick-witted man who delighted in drawing, especially sketches of Yogi Bear. Over the years I watched him sketch Yogi on napkins or on scraps of paper, whatever was handy. I always felt that bear was a spin off of Joe's personality.
Leaving Joe's office I recalled my first day working at Hanna-Barbera. It was a rainy morning when I arrived at the studio on Cahuenga Blvd. I had left MGM to become Hanna-Barbera's first director of publicity, a job I was to hold for the next 20 years. My years with Bill and Joe began on Dec. 15, 1966, which ironically was the day on which Walt Disney died. What a coincidence I thought as I quickly wrote my first official press release. Bill and Joe expressed their kind thoughts for this great man, acknowledging Mr. Disney's worldwide popularity and ability to entertain millions of people with his imagination. Hanna-Barbera was a young studio in those days as were many of its employees, myself included. The years passed and the studio prospered.
As the studio's PR person, I quickly learned Joe was shy when it came to press interviews. Indeed, I had to pressure him to take time from his daily schedule for interviews with the media. During the years I worked for him, Joe never pressured me to generate personal publicity. I was often made aware of news worthy developments if Joe passed me in the hall. There were no formal meetings. Joe's partner, Bill Hanna, avoided press interviews and would do them only if Joe's schedule was blocked. Prior to interviews, I prepared a press release covering the topic. This often saved the day, as often Bill was unaware of Joe's activities as was Joe of Bill's. The interviews often yielded wonderful articles as each partner added his personal touch to the story. Within a few months I was able to understand how they would respond to questions.
When I was hired, management told me it was critical that Joe and Bill become global celebrities. It appeared that, while the viewing public knew of Fred Flintstone or Yogi Bear, they never linked them to the cartoonists responsible for the creation of these popular cartoon characters.
I believe the success I experienced in shaping these two men and their studio into worldwide celebrities had more to do with their leaving me to my own resources in building their images. I did what I felt was best for them at my own pace using whatever resources were available to me. Indeed, the entire studio operated on that premise. We all knew our jobs and what was expected of us. The studio was a magical kingdom run by employees who understood their jobs and performed each day. None of us ever heard of an MBA, and if we had, would have never understood what guys in dark suits could do for Scooby-Doo. After leaving the studio I held senior positions with Warner Bros. Studios, including its animation division, The Walt Disney Co., DIC Ent., Fox Family Channel, PAX TV Network and OpenTV. Compared to these companies Hanna-Barbera was in a world of its own
John Michaeli, Former HB PR Exec
As Jayne Barbera said in her tribute, 'Hanna-Barbera was like getting a masters in life... the best school in town for the last of a quality education in animation.' I couldn't be more grateful for the learning tree it provided... 31 years later I apply my Hanna-Barbera experience daily. With all the red tape that it takes to make a cartoon show in 2007, I have to smile when I think back on Joe Barbera pitching and selling a show on his mere charisma... Thanks for including me...
Ginny McSwain, Casting & Recording Director
There's one story that will always stand out in my mind about Joe Barbera
I was the director of PR at H-B from October 1994 through September 1996. I believe it was my second or third day on the job in '94 when I was asked to sit in on an interview a reporter was doing with Mr. Barbera. The interview went well over an hour and after the reporter left, I chatted briefly with Joe about how excited I was to be joining the company and how I watched all the Hanna-Barbera shows as a kid. Mr. Barbera then turned to me and said, "Why don't you join me for lunch?" Although I politely declined because I didn't want to impose on his lunchtime, he insisted I join him and we went to Ca del Sol in North Hollywood where I remember everyone greeting him with a "Good Afternoon Mr. Barbera!" He had his own table there, which they kept reserved for him each afternoon. I remember being completely in shock that within just a few days of starting work at the studio, here I was sitting down for a meal with one of television's greatest legends. Mr. Barbera told me some incredible stories about the early days of the Hanna-Barbera studio and how he planned to keep working in this business right to the very end, because he loved his work and it kept him feeling young. A few days later, Mr. Barbera came to my office with a copy of what was then his new biography, My Life In Toons. I told him during our lunch I wanted to read the book and I was touched that not only had he remembered, but he wrote a personal note on the inside cover, along with a Tom and Jerry picture which he sketched right before my eyes. It's one of my most treasured possessions because it's rare that you get to work with someone so iconic, yet completely genuine and gregarious. I was honored to know him and I know I join many of my fellow co-workers there who will miss him dearly.
Marc D. Grossmann, Director, Public Relations, Taffy Ent.
You know there's the old expression 'A picture is worth a thousand words.' Well, Joe Barbera would say that sometimes the most enduring characters are ones that spring out of a cartoonist's mind or imagination. Some of us could make a drawing of a character, and Mr. B would like it, and he'd say, "Let's develop a show around this character." And it would work.
Joe Barbera meant a great deal to me. I respected him and always admired his zeal for cartoon humor that never seemed to tire. For about 40 years thar I knew him, it was always a pleasure for me to be involved with him in our numerous studio projects.
You wanted to be around him and to learn from him. He had a certain charisma that attracted everybody. We didn't think we were working, we were having fun -- because the way he managed, that was his demeanor. We all loved working and being around him.
Iraj Paran, Emmy-winning Art Director, who designed the signature H-B Logo
I heard a definition not too long ago of the word "soul," that somebody "had soul," And that definition was that he made it his life's work to make other people feel good about being alive. To me, Joe Barbera really had soul.
The energy of the voice is really what makes it happen, and Joe was a great one for energy. He had one line he'd always say - "Do it right and then do it faster." And that one little thing has followed me throughout my career as a director of comedies ever since."
Joe's strength was his humanity and his story telling ability and his sense of humor
Any cartoon you look at that has the Bill Hanna-Joe Barbera stamp on it in some form or another has that lifeforce and the jokes and the humor - they're really little celebrations of life.
Joe's strength was he had a personality that didn't quit. He was accessible, Joe was very hands on, as was Mr. Hanna, especially for men that had their names on the building. They weren't just a figureheads -- they both were very actively participating in the production of every single thing that went on there. I think because they both worked at everything from the beginning, they both weren't afraid, at any point during their careers, to roll up their sleeves and dive in to do whatever had to be done to get the job done well.
and friendly and always cheerful and somebody you would want to know.
Joe taught me that if it's not fun in the environment that we're making the cartoon, specifically in the recording studio, then it's not going to be a fun cartoon. He taught me to have fun making cartoons.
You'd have these moments where you'd be sitting in Mr. Barbera's office, and he'd be talking about how hard it was to get a project made, or how there's no budgets for anything, or how no one will listen to you, and I was thinking, "I can't believe I'm hearing the same kind of problems that every producer has, is coming out of this great, out of the great man himself," so it was always cool stuff.
He was breaking down a Tom and Jerry scene for us. He'd act the cartoon out for you. That's kind of common with animators and directors, and usually you could tell which character has more of that person in it. Which character really shows who that person is. But as he was acting this cartoon out, I was thinking to myself, "Is he more like Tom or is he more like Jerry?" But as he acted them out, the things he would go through, as he would mimic Jerry's cute walk, and Tom waiting around a corner for him, it hit me -- he's Tom AND Jerry. He's 100% of both of those guys. And that was really a moment I'll never forget.
Tony Cervone (with Spike Brandt)
He had a mesmerizing way about him, a hypnotic power, and he could just take hold of you - whether you were a reporter or a network executive. He was a very quick study -- a man who could look at somebody and within moments come back with something fascinating to say to them. He figured everyone out real quick.
Yogi Bear was very much like Joe. And Fred Flintstone was very much like Bill. They were both pegged on those personalities. I mean, that bear could just get anything he wanted. Picnic baskets, whatever -- and that was Joe.
Joe had a wonderful natural talent for humor and the quick sight gag. He was a very funny man. Joe's strength was as a story artist, and as an idea person. He had a great sense of physical comedy, he had a great sense of character.
Joe and Bill were very loyal to the founders of the company because when Hanna-Barbera was at its peak, with like 2,000 employees, you walked around and it was like a Who's Who of Animation. There were animation legends in every room and every cubicle. You could look into each room and it was like a history of animation. There were people that worked at Disney and for Max Fleisher who had worked on Looney Tunes... I feel like everyone worked there sooner or later.
I'll best remember Joe as a man with a great smile, a great sense of humor, and a great sense of camaraderie. Even though the man was obviously very wealthy, very famous, at the top of his industry, he was not above a "how you doin" poke in the arm sort of thing.
It's sort of funny because Joe always talked about what he wanted to talk about. So you'd walk in and you'd want to ask him about a particular artist or production and he would always look at you and say "Let me tell you about how I sold Banana Splits." (laugh)
He loved the cartoons, even after having done it all those years. He'd still go into a session and he'd just bubble up with enthusiasm. I think his legacy will be the fact that those characters will live on and on. They'll be played back and rerun for many, many years.
Joe's strength was humor. To me, Joe Barbera was the most charming, humorous guy I ever met. He was a fantastic salesman. I used to think he could just tell you his phone number and it would be funny.
We were having a pitch meeting with Fred Silverman and everyone from Saturday morning and Joe was pitching this show about a bear. So Joe is going on about the gags and the personality, saying "The bear does this" and "the bear does that" and, right in the middle of explaining a gag, Fred says, "I hate bears." And without skipping a beat, Joe says, "Did I say Bear? So the dog comes into the kitchen..." And he sold it.
Joe was great in helping me to learn to be a better voice actor, He didn't just says things like "make it bigger" or "louder." He always was character oriented, and he'd always speak about the character -- Jonny wants this, Jonny thinks that. We'd always talk about who the character was.
I learned more just being around him and watching him be the lord of the manor because he was a very generous man, a very sweet man to everybody. It was a wonderful place, a happy place ... and a fun factory that just churned out these great cartoons.
The very first time I worked for Joe was over 60 years ago at MGM. He and Bill Hanna called me in to do, of all thing, the sound of oil gurgling or circulating in a car engine driven by Tom and Jerry. On a soundstage at MGM, Joe led me up to an oil drum with a microphone hanging in the oil drum and he said "Put your head upside down in the oil drum and give me a little oil circulating." And then he said "Okay, take one." I went "ug, ug, ug ug, ug, ug, ug, ug, ug, ug, ug, ug, ug ... and he had me do 15 takes! I finally stood up, red in the face from hanging upside so long, and Joe said to me, he says this to a 20-year-old Freberg, "That's the best oil gurgling I ever heard." I love you, Joe.
Joe's strength was his versatility. He could do anything. He could direct, he could act, he could write. He could make a pitch for a new series and convince people to buy it when he didn't even know how it was going to turn out. He was a great personality, and he was just wonderful at everything he did.
The best advice Joe ever gave me was "Dare." He said, "Be different. Be creative. Just exaggerate. Don't be afraid of being bad. Be bad. Be creative. Get it out there. Dare."
Joe Barbera had such savoir-faire, charisma, wit, charm, humor. He was lovely... and got better as he aged. He knew how to tell a joke, verbally and visually, and it all came down to his timing.
I think Joe had a good time, and he made no apologies. He took pride in the way he looked, the way he acted, what he did. He lived life to its fullest and he did it for a long, long time.
He was able to take an idea and endow it with life and make everyone fall in love with it
Joe's legacy is the fact that so many of us in this business would not be here without them. Joe and Bill created a business that didn't exist and they did more than create and provide jobs or pioneered an industry -- they inspired generations of kids to dream and imagine. We should all be grateful.
I had like five seconds to prepare to meet Joe Barbera for the first time. So I came in, and he started looking at my drawings. And he said, "You drew these? I said "Yep." "How long have you been drawing like this?" "Four years." He looked up and said, "Well, this is how we're going to draw them today..."
He was always trying to think of the next idea, the next show, and how to get it made, and that's where his mind was all the time. We were all part of that, and we couldn't have asked for better.
My first day recording for Scooby-Doo and I was thinking that I was going to be meeting and working with an icon, an industry legend. Needless to say, as a 20-year-old kid, I was a little nervous. So Joe came into the room, and saw me standing there. He said "sit down," so I sat down. He came up to me, looking very serious, put his finger in my face, and said, "These two guys walk into a bar. Why the second guy didn't see it, I'll never know."
You know the old saying, man's best friend is his dog, well I think when it comes to Joe Barbera, there's a lot of actors, Don Messick and myself, I think I can speak for, where we say, Joe was our best friend.
After I'd do a bunch of silly stuff, he said, "I think if you stay out of jail and eat lots of kibble, you'll succeed in this business."
Joe knew the difference between Iwao Takamoto and yours truly, Willie Ito. Of course, the similarity in names between Iwao/Ito could easily add to the confusion. Joe would more often than not call me Iwao. I would laugh it off as an understandable mistake. However, with curiosity, I confronted Iwao with the question that dogged me. "Has Joe ever mistakenly refereed to you as Willie?" With a bit of annoyance reflected in his inscrutable face, he retorted with a resounding, "NEVER!"
He would ask if we were available to come in on a Saturday to look busy. Because he would have a lot of network executives walking through the studio, the Fred Silvermans and Michael Eisners, and they all came through and we'd be sitting there looking busy, busy, busy; but we'd already have all that work done. It was Joe's showmanship. Starting from the storyboard, all the way through production, Joe was a showman.
He didn't look his age. He didn't act his age. He had the same kind of vigor and enthusiasm whether talking about something he was working on right then, or looking back at the Tom and Jerry cartoons, or telling of his great adventures selling shows to the networks. He was a ball of fire.
He was loyal to the guys that worked with him at MGM, he was loyal to the guys that were willing to join the pioneers in establishing Hanna-Barbera, and he was loyal to any animation veteran who was in their later years was willing to or wanted to work at his company. He was so happy to get one of the old-timers who really knew how everything worked, and the door was wide open to them, because he valued their savvy and their know-how.
It was not work for him. It was what he did. It was what he loved.
My good memory of Mr. Barbera as an employee of H-B for more than 25 years. He was the most genuine man to have conversation with. He made you feel like you were the most important person at that moment. It was a great honor for me to know such a man. I miss you Mr. B.
Linda Moore, Hanna-Barbera, Production Library
I think his philosophy was to accomplish and to live life to the fullest, and I think he did just that. He accomplished everything he wanted. I don't think he ever confided in people what he wanted to do in life -- he just went ahead and did it. And we have to admire him for that.
In the '80s and '90s, Hanna-Barbera was the Rick's Casablanca Cafe of animation: sooner or later, everyone came to H-B. Like Rick's, rumor and colorful characters abounded. We all knew Joe Barbera had a splendid fleet of cars, and an equally splendid wardrobe. But rumor went further: it was said that Joe always carefully matched the car he drove to the color of his shoes. Who among us was privileged to observe close and often, to know if it was true? But when legend becomes truth, print the legend.
Jack Enyart, Consultoont
I was so saddened to hear about the passing of Joe Barbera, the world has lost a treasure. I remember when I was little I used to watch Tom and Jerry cartoons with my grandpa. Fun times. I also recall when my family took a vacation to the south of France, all my brother and I did was watch the Scooby-Doo marathon on Cartoon Network. Joe's work has always been a big part of my life and has always been a reason why I wanted to be an animator. I mean I am studying animation right now. I so want to be like him, he dedicated his life to making the whole world smile. If I could even accomplish a fraction of what he managed to do, it will be a life worth lived. Anyway, I would just like to say
"Thanks for the laughs Joe, we'll miss you"
In June of 1994 I accompanied Joe Barbera to New York for the opening of the Flintstones movie. We traveled together on Delta to New York. During the course of the flight I got up to go to the bathroom. At that time I always carried my wallet in my right hand back pocket. As I got up the plane experienced some turbulence and I was thrown back into my seat. When I landed my back pocket where my wallet was got stuck on the metal stripping on the seat and it tore it wide open exposing my butt to all onboard. Joe turned to me and said that he was really good at sewing and if he could get a needle and thread he would fix it. He promptly stood up intending to go to the galley and get a sewing kit when the plane again hit some turbulence. Joe who carried his wallet in his left hand back pocket was thrown to his seat and he also caught his back pocket on the metal strip ripping his pants as well. About three hours later we both showed up at the Plaza Hotel with our jackets tied around our waists to keep from exposing our butts.
The joint efforts of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera have had a powerful and lasting impact on television animation. Hanna-Barbera programs have been a staple of television entertainment. Furthermore, a great many of the characters originally created by Hanna and Barbera for the small screen have crossed the boundaries into film, books, toys, and all manner of other media, becoming virtually ubiquitous as cultural icons.
Anthony Utley, Managing Director of Coagrove Hall
I actually left Hanna-Barbera because I found it depressing to argue with Joe Barbera. I grew up on the man's shows -- that is to say, shows produced by Hanna-Barbera. I don't want to suggest J.B. did those shows all by himself. They were an important part of my childhood and working at that studio meant a lot more to me than any other writing job for unspectacular money might have meant. I mean, come on. This was Joe Barbera.
Like many in my situation, I had a little trouble calling him "Joe," which is what he wanted and expected. We didn't like the idea of bringing him down to our level. We wanted to keep him on a Joe Barbera level. So we called him "J.B." or just "Mr. B."
By either name, he was a gusher of energy, a stream of ideas, a fountain of sales pitches and new projects. I didn't always admire the output but I respected the volume and the juggling act. Barbera wasn't actively involved in all of it -- who could have been? -- but his spirit seemed to inform every project. And every once in a while, he'd take an active interest in a show, which is how my troubles came about. I'd be taking the show North and suddenly, Mr. B. would decide to pay some attention to it and he'd decide it should go South...which might have been a good idea if he'd told me that four weeks and three scripts earlier.
After the eighth or ninth time he did this to me, I decided to quit... not just that show but Hanna-Barbera, then and forever. I still liked J.B. and wanted to keep it that way. Sometimes, you leave jobs because you don't respect the guy you're working for and sometimes, you leave because you do. I do and I always will.
Mark Evanier, Animation Writer/Producer
This is one of my favorite and most treasured photos. It was in 1988 (I know because I was 7 1/2 months pregnant in the photo) and I was with ceo of Marvel productions. I had decided that it would be a great idea for me to gather those wonderful men who had mentored me (without their knowing it) for what became the first of two luncheons. The only reason we didn't continue is that Friz died, and then Walter.
I had it at the restaurant that is now Trader Joe's in Toluca Lake (Joe really liked the ambiance of that place). I invited Friz Freleng, Walter Lance, Joe and Bill. It was a riot. I also invited Jean MacCurtdy and my former assistant who was by then the script coordinator for H-B, Barbara Simon Dierks. The second year we gathered, Chuck Jones was coincidentally in the restaurant at the same time and Joe and Bill and Friz all gave him a lot of ribbing lots of good-natured insults flying back and forth. If his feelings were hurt (for not being invited) I never knew -- they all just traded the funniest insults, just like when Joe, Bill and Friz had all worked together with Chuck many years before -- they were still just kids at heart and very competitive. Chuck's ego was as legendary and robust as was his talent, and it was at that luncheon that Joe proclaimed that Chuck had even taken credit for creating Friz!
Margaret Loesch, ceo of The Hatchery Llc.
Although I didn't often work directly with Joe Barbera, I was privileged to be his assistant in the recording booth on one rare occasion. It stands out in my memory because we were only doing Flintstone specials by that time. This was a Flintstone Christmas Special. I followed the script and storyboard to make any last minute changes while he guided the voice-over actors through the production with that same smooth self-assurance acquired from years of experience. This attitude of confidence, intelligence and humor seemed to radiate out from him as he walked the halls of Hanna-Barbera on his way to a meeting or an appointment. When I happened to pass him there he always had a cheerful greeting which certainly brightened my day. It's the little things we do which impact others more than we know. I felt so lucky to be in surroundings, which were friendly and supportive at a time in my life when I was going through a difficult time personally. Joe set the pace and the openness and acceptance he carried in himself created an atmosphere where creativity thrived in the people as well as in the work they produced. I'll always count it a blessing to have worked with wonderful people under the competence of a leader such as Joe Barbera. Thank you, Joe, and God bless you and all who worked with you.
I came into Hollywood from Dallas, Texas, via South America in 1961 and started working as a layout designer for the small studios at the time; Snowball (Beany and Cecil), Playhouse, Format (The Lone Ranger), Larry Harmon, Bill Melendez, Jay Ward, Warner Bros. (back lot) Looney Tunes, UPA. (Mr. Magoo).
Hanna Barbera was just starting ('57). After the work was thinning at these studios I went to work for HB (1967). My first job was doing layouts for a short lived series The Abbott and Costello Show and then I went to Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, The Flinstones, The Jetsons, Hey It's the King and many others. I met Joe and Bill and the atmosphere there was a friendly one as Joe used to roam the hallways and talking to all of us, Willie Ito, Homer Jonas, Iwao Takamoto, Bick Bickemback, Bob Singer etc. and giving us ideas for new shows and encouraging the good work that we were doing, his attitude was warm and nice and made us feel that we were working as a family.
Bill, on the hand was in charge of the monies and finances, we had many encounters about this but all in all was just part of the business and we ended up friends after all.
With Joe my friendship lasted all his life as he gave me my first chance to be a visual creative designer when we worked, even weekends, to design shows and presentations he had to take to New York to the Networks for pitches and I remember being part of the creative team that came up with the Scooby-Doo characters as he came one day and told us that a network wanted a show with some kid detectives in an spooky atmosphere, but he also told us that he wanted a pet character, such as Bandit (Johnny Quest), we then came up with a big dog instead of tiny pet.
I don't remember if he, at first, liked it or not but the show was sold and the rest, as we say, it's history.
I then moved to Europe to work for several producers in Spain and Ireland and then to my hometown in Santiago, Chile where I have my small creative studio, but everytime I went to Los Angeles I made a point of coming over and say Hello to Joe, at the old studio in Cahuenga where, around 1995-96 or so we chatted for a long time in his office reminicing the old times, then he stood up and took a book from his shelve The Art of Hanna Barbera and gave it to me with a note saying: "For Alvaro, who was with us at the beginning" and sign it, I still have it and treasure it in my studio.
I last saw him at he new Warner Bros. building in 2004, he was in his wheelchair then but alert and witty as always. I remember that a real nice girl came in to see him and he looked at me and wink and said: "Aint she a doll?" That is how I want to remember him.
I have fond remembrances of Hanna-Barbera as I recall my 30 some odd years working there interspersed with other projects. Now semi retired and splitting my time between Utah and California, I say, though Joe Barbera was kept busy pitching shows and approving scripts and artwork, he still cut a memorable figure to those who saw him at the studio. I was in the Animation Department and had more business dealings with Bill Hanna. But Joe Barbera was the shining star of Hanna-Barbera Prods. He was the handsome hero who bewitched us all with his magnificent smile, quick wit and gentlemanly charm. He was fun and funny, an actor who brought out the best in everybody. I hope he knew how grateful I was to have had the privilege of working all those years at H-B and how precious those marvelous memories are. We will treasure those days forever and never forget. My association with him was limited, and that is my one regret.
When I first came to Hanna-Barbera in 1964 I soon learned that the phrase "Joe said..." were magic words that denoted the highest authority in the studio and were obeyed without question. (Bill and Joe divided up the workings of the studio into the creative and production halves and Joe had a firm grip on the preparation of the shows from script through layout, where Bill Hanna took over, guiding production from animation through camera).
I soon discovered that "Joe said..." carried his authority throughout the studio not out of fear but because of the respect that Joe Barbera had earned with his employees. A summons from Bill Hanna to come to his office might cause some anxious moments but a call to see "Mr. Barbera", as he was refered to by his secretary, was invariably an invitation to go over your work with him, usually a storyboard.
A meeting with Joe was always a pleasant occasion, as he would immediately put you at ease with that smooth manner of his, then begin a look at your work, making suggestions for plussing a gag, even making a little drawing to illustrate his idea. I was always impressed with joe's facile way of drawing just the right pose or add a bit of dialogue to enhance the story. All those years that he had spent writing and storyboarding Tom and Jerry cartoons at MGM had given him a vast store of situations and ideas to draw upon.
It was a pleasure to have a relationship with the owner of a studio whom you could relate to as one artist to another.
I feel I owe my whole career to Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to work with Joe personally but through an art class he started at Hanna-Barbera. Along with Bronnie Barry and other student artists we got our start on a life long path of creativity and adventure. After the Flintstones I worked on projects from little blue Smurfs up to my present drawings for little yellow people in The Simpsons. You never knew, Joe, how you lighted the way for so many of us by following your dream and developing your talent which lives on not only in your contribution to art and animation, but inside so many of us who "grew up" artistically in your colorful shadow. Personally that path has led from your "home" on Cahuenga, Hollywood, to places I never imagined goingvarious parts of Germany and now as the first American cartoonist at the International Animation Expo in China! Thank you for being the trailblazer in TV animation and our lives. Your spirit of cheer and optimism is our legacy and we're truly fortunate to have inherited even some of it for a world, which needs it more than ever. PS: Do they speak "Yabba Dabba Doo" up there?
I was born in 1951, so I was at Ground Zero for Ruff and Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, Quick Draw McGraw and all the other early Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon showsthe studio's "good" shows. My generation of kids had been existing on a diet of afternoon marathons at local theaters and telecast hand-me-down cartoons. In the late 1950s. Hanna-Barbera (and Jay Ward) arrived like the cavalry to provide cartoons that were ours. (For many years, a lot of people claimed that Hanna-Barbera destroyed animation, but I always believed that they had saved it!) Sure, they didn't move much when they didn't need to, but H-B's animators knew what to leave out to achieve Bill Hanna's concept of "planned animation". The important thing was, they were hip and funny.
The hipness? That was Joe Barbera's specialty. Mr. B was primarily in charge of conceiving the cartoons, writing the cartoons, designing the cartoons, voice-casting the cartoons and selling the cartoons. (Bill Hanna was in charge of making the cartoons, on time and on or under budget.) But it was Joe's hip quotient that was the secret ingredient for H-B's early success. Yogi Bear wasn't the only nonconformist at the studio; he shared that quality with Joe.
Joe Barbera was a real character. He always struck me as being the last of the old-time Hollywood bigshots, with the tanned complexion, the blazers and yachting jackets, the ascots and cravats, the sunglasses, the jet-black hair. I don't think he ever gave thought to the possibility that in Hollywood, animation is waaay down on the list of showbiz greatness. But he was the Sinatra of animation.
At development meetings, he would often ask, to no one in particular, "Am I right? Am I right?" (The original pitch-title of Top Cat was "J. B. And Company". Maybe Joe was waiting for someone to answer him by saying, "Right, J. B.!") He once even called me into his office just to show me his listing in Who's Who Of Italian-Americans. Strangely, I always got the impression that, although they had achieved monumental success with Hanna-Barbera Productions, Joe (and Bill) regarded their studio as merely a necessary step to survival, but that the Tom And Jerry s they made at MGM were their real source of pride.
One thing is for certain -- when Joe Barbera died, we lost the last old-time animation studio boss who actually knew how a cartoon was made. I'll always be grateful that I was able to work with Joe and Bill and their cast of classic cartoon characters.
Hannah Barbera cartoons were my biggest influence to get into art, drawing, and eventually animation. As a child, I was glued to Flintstones, Yogi, Huckleberry and the rest of the menagerie. I always had a coloring book with all these characters and then would learn to draw them in detail while watching on television.
Even though I had studied extensively the Disney and Warner Bros. technique of full animation, I felt very close to the deceptively simple method of limited animation, which Hannah and Barbera are famous for and became a standard for generations. I was also very appreciative of that style of comedy, story, and character, which is unique to a Hannah Barbera cartoon. Bill and Joe's humor in these episodes are timeless.
I feel blessed to have met Joe Barbera a few years ago at a public appearance in Orange County California while he was still in his eighties. I noticed what a humble, gentle and polite person he was. It was no surprise that he continued working as a story man right up to the end. I believe his qualities and also his humor are what kept him going all these years.
Joe Barbera and Bill Hannah's creations, influence and legacy of entertainment will live on forever.
Michael Morgenlander, Animator, Artist, Art Teacher
I retired last October from Warner Bros. I worked for Mr. Barbera starting in 1967 at Hanna Barbera. I left in 1990. I went to Disney and then to Warner Bros. in 1991. Joe followed me there and I would see him come intothe office almost every day. I did not know him well, but I am very grateful to him and to his daughter Jayne who gave me the chance to have a terrific career. I started as a cel painter on The Flintstones and I later became a color stylist. I enjoyed every moment and I truly valued the talent of Mr. Barbera, who gave so many people an opportunity to express their talents as well.
Thanks to Joe Barbera I became an animation director and eventually producer. Upon seeing my first independent short film, which I screened during a coffee break at Hanna-Barbera, Joe Barbera said: "Why aren't you directing for me?" It was irrelevant to him that I was a woman; he didn't care because he looked for quality and not gender.
Thank you, Joe Barbera -- and may your soul rest in Animation Heaven!
Marija Miletic Dail, www.animationcottage.com
Joe Barbera, Dad I never in my life expected to be doing this this was not part of our deal but with great sadness for the loss of a parent, a mentor, a boss and a friend it is a privilege and an honor to be standing here.
Joe Barbera what an extraordinary man. As my friend, Erika Grossbart said to me when she heard of his death boy, he was a man who had it all he was good looking, he was bright, he was quick, he had a great sense of humor and great timing, he was charming and he was incredibly talented. I agree the man truly was an experience. And he had the best life of anyone I have ever known ever He loved what he did and he did what he loved. He created wonderfully entertaining moments and worked with amazingly talented people, so many of who are here this evening to honor him. Thank you And he was so lucky because he received accolades and attaboys while he was alive. He was congratulated and appreciated for what he did. And how much better than that does it get to love what you do and be acknowledged and recognized for it.
I said at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences plaque dedication that the loss of Mr. Hanna had left a hole in my universe, in the universes of all that knew and loved him. I think we would all agree that the hole is a great deal larger now. Anyway, it is for me.
Joe Barbera's passion for his work set an example.a way to live and make others laugh and when he was dying slowly and sadly of horrendous Parkinson's disease, he set another example.and that was one of dignity.And even then he kept that sense of humor and made others laugh.what a guy.
My friend, Kerry Williams said, "The whole world loved your father -- a great man." My friend, Ginny McSwain said, "Mr. Barbera's passing is truly the end of an era I thank my lucky stars that I got my training from the best school in town." My friend, Davis Doi said, "Your father was an amazing and inspiring man. It was an honor to know him." My friend, Carlton Clay said so simply and so eloquently, "I miss him," and my acquaintance, Paul Iron said "If life went on the same without the one who died, we could only conclude that the life we here remember made no contribution, filled no space, meant nothing. The fact that this person left behind a place that cannot be filled is a high tribute to this individual. Life can be the same after a trinket has been lost, but never after the loss of a treasure."
Joe Barbera treasure, creator, producer, director father to me, my sister Lynn, my brother Neal; grandfather to Kim and Gina, great-grandfather to Danny, Megan, Amanda, Matthew and Lena, in-law to Katia, Jerry, Lou, Dan and Tim that's a lot in one lifetime