Animation Legend Joe Barbera Dies at 95

The other shoe has fallen. Joseph Barbera, co-founder of Hanna-Barbera and co-creator of such favorite animation characters as Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, ScoobyDoo and The Jetsons, died of natural causes at his home with his wife, Sheila, at his side, in Studio City, California, on Dec. 18, 2007, according to Warner Bros. spokesman Gary Miereanu.

With his longtime partner, William Hanna (who passed away in 2001), Barbera first found success at MGM where they created the highly successful TOM AND JERRY cartoons, which went on to win seven Academy Awards, more than any other series with the same characters.

Barbera and Hanna created hundreds of beloved cartoon characters during their partnership of more than 60 years. Together, they produced more than 3,500 half-hours of animated programming, including more than 350 different series, specials, television motion pictures and theatrical films.

Barbera worked as a New York banker and peddled his cartoons to publications, such as COLLIERS MAGAZINE. After studying art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Barbera worked at the Van Buren and Terrytoons animation studios in New York. He moved to Los Angeles in 1937 to join MGM's animation unit where he met Hanna, whom MGM had also just hired as a director and story editor.

When MGM eliminated the studios animation department with the advent of television, the duo formed their own production company in 1957 to create animated cartoons for television at a time when original animation for that medium was almost unheard of. With a limited budget and many animators out of work in Hollywood, they developed a team of great artists and writers to re-invent cartoons for television. Many have gone on to create studios producing animated cartoons around the world.

Many HB series are distributed worldwide in 175 countries in 45 languages. In addition, Cartoon Network airs many of the series available via cable or satellite in 160 countries across the globe. In 2000, Cartoon Network launched the Boomerang Network, created specifically as a showcase for the Hanna-Barbera library.

Barbera and Hanna were elected to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1994, the same year Barbera penned his autobiography, MY LIFE IN TOONS. They received eight Emmys, including the Governors Award of the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences in 1988. In March of 2005, the Academy unveiled a wall sculpture depicting the creators surrounded by some of their most famous characters during a ceremony that Barbera attended and celebrated his 94th birthday with past employees.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, March 24, 1911, Barbera was still going to his office at Warner Bros. Animation daily where he conferred on story ideas and series development with fellow animators (like Iwao Takamoto and Jerry Eisenberg) at the studio. The Hanna-Barbera Studio he co-founded with Hanna became part of WBA after Warner Bros. bought the Turner Broadcasting Co., which purchased HB in 1991.

Barbera directed a brand new TOM AND JERRY theatrical short that was made its world television premiere on Cartoon Network Jan. 27, 2006. The seven-minute cartoon, THE KARATEGUARD, was produced by Warner Bros. Animation. He also worked on the new SHAGGY & SCOOBY-DOO GET A CLUE! television series launched in fall 2006 on Kids' WB! on The CW.

Part of Barbara's work regime, he still maintained, was to tell a joke at every meeting.

Joe Barbara was a passionate storyteller and a creative genius who, along with his late partner Bill Hanna, helped pioneer the world of animation, said Sander Schwartz, president, Warner Bros. Animation. Bill created a landmark television production model and Joe filled it with funny, original show ideas and memorable characters that will stand for all time as his ultimate legacy. Joes contributions to the both the animation and television industries are without parallel -- he has been personally responsible for entertaining countless millions of viewers across the globe. His influences upon generations of animation professionals have been extraordinary. While the Warner Bros. family and the animation community will mourn his departure, we will also celebrate his life and the many lives to which he brought great entertainment. I was inspired to work alongside Joe and I am proud to have had the blessing of his friendship.

Barbera is also survived by three children -- Jayne, Neal and Lynn -- from a previous marriage.

Stay tooned for memorial arrangements to this "smarter than the average bear" animator who profoundly impacted industry pros and fans worldwide and in outer space (crew members of the Astro space shuttle mission took Jetsons items on the spacecraft and got a wakeup call from Astro, the Jetsons' family dog, recorded by voice actor Don Messick).

ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE will be publishing a tribute story to him in January. We are requesting messages and remembrances from his colleagues. We're also looking for names of companies started by HB alum to build the consummate Hanna-Barbera family tree. If you'd like to add your remembrance and send us info on HB family tree branches, please send them to editor@awn.com by Jan. 13. Artwork is also welcome, please send high-res, at 300 dpi.

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