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Bill Hanna Passes Away

On Thursday, March 22, 2001, one of the fathers of TV animation, William Hanna, died at his home in North Hollywood, California. He was 90 years old. Born in Melrose, New Mexico, on July 14, 1910, Hanna and his partner, Joseph Barbera created such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and Scooby-Doo. Hanna, a trained engineer, began his animation career during the Depression when he took an ink and paint position at Harman-Ising Studios. In 1937, Hanna was hired by MGM, where he met Barbera and the two began a creative partnership that lasted over 60 years. There Hanna and Barbera broke new ground by mixing animation and live-action pitting Tom and Jerry with Gene Kelly in ANCHORS AWEIGH and INVITATION TO DANCE and with Esther Williams in DANGEROUS WHEN WET. The TOM AND JERRY shorts received seven Academy Awards. When MGM closed its cartoon division in 1957, Hanna and Barbera founded their own studio, Hanna-Barbera Studios, and went on to produce more than 3,000 animated half-hour television shows. Just three years after founding their studio, the pairs HUCKLEBERRY HOUND won the first Emmy Award ever given to an animated series and launched the first animated primetime show, THE FLINTSTONES. In 1976, Hanna and Barbera received stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame and were inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1993. In the 1990s, Hanna served as executive producer for 20th Century Fox's feature film ONCE UPON A FOREST and Universal Pictures' live-action feature THE FLINTSTONES. In 1995, Hanna created two original cartoon shorts (HARD LUCK DUCK and WIND-UP WOLF) for Cartoon Network's "What A Cartoon!" project, marking his first solo directorial efforts since 1941. In 1996, Hanna published his autobiography, A CAST OF FRIENDS, by Taylor Publishing Company. He is survived by his wife of 65 years Violet, son David, daughter Bonnie, grandchildren Laurie Hanna, Molly Hanna, William Hanna, John Hanna, David Williams, Phillip Williams and Emily Williams. Betty Cohen, president of Cartoon Network, said, "We are greatly saddened by the death of one of the most influential animators of our time - Bill was a cartoon scientist and a genius at timing. Cartoon Network and Boomerang wouldnt be around today without him. The cartoons of Hanna-Barbera have influenced and entertained generations of kids and adults and will serve as a legacy to his talent." Jean MacCurdy, president of Warner Bros. Animation, said, "There are literally thousands of people working in the television animation business today who had the honor of training under Mr. Hanna. I was privileged enough to have been one of them. We will miss him terribly."

Animation World Network will be compiling a Bill Hanna memorial scrapbook to appear in the May 2001 issue. If you have stories, memories, condolences and/or photos you would like to submit please e-mail them to

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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