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Barbera/Leib Letters To Save HB Buildings

The following is a letter from Joseph Barbera read at the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council along with a statement from Alan Leib, chairman of The Modern Committee of the L.A. Conservancy to support saving the Hanna-Barbera building.

Dear members of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council,

First, Id like to thank you for your time and interest in a subject very near and dear to my heart; the facility at 3400 Cahuenga Boulevard.

Please, save this building from destruction. There is a whole history to the significance of that address and what it stands for in the larger scope of the entertainment business. After all these years, it is difficult to separate the historical perspective from my personal interest, but I shall do my best to convey it.

For well over twenty years, my partner, Bill Hanna and I were fortunate enough to be safely harbored at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio. There, we created the highly successful series of theatrical cartoons starring a precocious gray cat named, Tom and a little brown mouse named, Jerry. We received seven Academy Awards and eight nominations for TOM & JERRY. We were fortunate in many ways. Not only were our creative minds exercised and nurtured, but our families were fed as well as the families of the countless employees who dedicated themselves, turning out the best entertainment we possibly could.

Back then, it seemed the ground on which we stood was solid and theatrical animation would go on indefinitely.

Then came 1957. A new kid rolled into the neighborhood and changed things forever: television! This was a new and strange animal. Many of the big studios, including our own pulled up stakes and called it a day. The gilded era of theatrical animation had abruptly come to an end. I cannot begin to tell you how frightening the situation had become for us. It seemed years of experience and hard work had led to a dead end. If we were to save ourselves and the craft we loved, something had to be done.

When all seemed lost, Bill and I had an unorthodox ideaone, which might turn the situation around and adapt our skills to the very thing that was causing our obsolescence. We came up with a system and a style of animation that would allow us to produce cartoons for the limited dollars of the television market. Out of the ashes of theatrical animation, we created specifically for television, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Pixie and Dixie and Jinx along with, The Jetsons. Strictly for television, a studio was created and a new foundation for the animation industry to build upon.

Tragedy was averted. From 3400 Cahuenga Boulevard, new, bold steps were taken in the field. We won the first Emmy Award for an animated program. Another first came from our drawing boards: before Bart Simpson there was Fred Flintstone and the rest of the gang from Bedrock, ushering in the era of Primetime animated series. A total of nine Emmy Awards graced our studio mantle.

Of course, the rest as they say is history. A very rich and fondly remembered history to a business that is as big now, than it ever was in the "Golden Era".

And this brings us to why you are gathered here today. To protect a fickle, yet important symbol of that history found at 3400 Cahuenga Boulevard. A home not only to myself, but also to the fond memories of children of all ages and all nationalities.

I regret that I cannot be there to convey the importance of this matter personally. I trust that you will earnestly consider the matter at hand. Very few times in life do we have within our ability, a chance to secure the legacy for future generations. I sincerely hope that together, we can protect that legacy and keep the roots of Hollywoods Animation history firmly secured for the ages.Exit, stage left,Joe BarberaCo-Founder, Chairman, Hanna-Barbera Studios

Dear Hollywood Hills Neighbors,As you decide on various solutions for community problems, it is important you consider the buildings which contributed greatly to the growth and history of Los Angeles. These landmark buildings, should be protected when planning a neighborhoods growth. In the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood, one such building is the Hanna-Barbera Building by Arthur Froelich, 1962.

The Hanna-Barbera building is a landmark by any measure. Architecturally, the mid-century modern design by Architect Arthur Froehlich is unique in the way its custom designed perforated concrete screen panels surround a classic international style structure. The building is protected from street noise while allowing unique abstract oval shape light patterns to enter the interior and reflect in the corridor created by the glass wall behind the facade screen.

Arthur Froehlich and Associates was responsible for a wide variety of important modern buildings both in Los Angeles and across America. Froehlichs LA area designs included the West Hollywood home of the Directors Guild of America, and the Los Alamitos and Hollywood Park racetracks. The firm was especially famous for its landmark modern racetrack designs. These incorporated dramatic cantilevered stands and boldly designed public areas. Froehlichs East coast race track designs , include New Yorks famous Aquaduct and Belmont , the home of the Belmont stakes , the third leg of horseracings legendary triple crown. In Caracas, Froehlichs Hippodromo Nacional is the official National racetrack of Venezuela.

The Hanna-Barbera Building s cultural significance also qualifies it as landmark. As the first building ever constructed to house a television animation studio, it marked a significant change in the history of animation in America. All animation studio functions were housed in the modern HB Building on Cahuenga. Such all-time favorites as THE FLINTSONES, YOGI BEAR and THE JETSONS, were produced entirely within the building, which became a model for the industry and changed the way cartoons were made.

In the 1930s Walt Disneys Hyperion studios revolutionized animation, producing the first feature length cartoon, Snow White. Disneys studio was a state of the art facility that produced classic cartoons beloved around the world starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and their friends. The Hanna-Barbera building, like Disneys Hyperion Studio some 30 years earlier, changed the rules for animation, producing televisions first primetime cartoons. Disney studios were demolished to make way for a supermarket. The Hanna-Barbera Building deserves a better fate.


Alan LeibChairmanLos Angeles ConservancyModern Committee