The animation industry has lost another legend with the passing of Joseph Barbera, who teamed with William Hanna to create famed cartoon studio Hanna-Barbera Prods. in 1944. At the age of 95, Barbera was still an active member of the Warner Bros. Animation team and was listed as exec producer for series such as What’s New Scooby-Doo? and Tom and Jerry Tales. In 2005, he wrote, co-storyboarded and co-directed the new Tom and Jerry theatrical short titled KarateGuard. He died Monday of natural causes at his home in Studio City, Calf. with wife Sheila at his side.
‘Joe Barbera truly was an animation and television legend,’ says Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Barry Meyer. ‘From the Stone Age to the Space Age and from primetime to Saturday mornings, syndication and cable, the characters he created with his late partner, William Hanna, are not only animated superstars, but also a very beloved part of American pop culture. While he will be missed by his family and friends, Joe will live on through his work.’
‘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,’ adds Warner Bros. Animation president and friend Sander Schwartz. ‘Joe’s contributions to both the animation and television industries are without parallel’he has been personally responsible for entertaining countless millions of viewers across the globe. I was inspired to work alongside Joe and I am proud to have had the blessing of his friendship.’
Working for MGM, Barbera and Hanna created the beloved cat-and-mouse team of Tom and Jerry in 1940. While the theatrical shorts won seven Academy Awards (and 14 nominations), it was their work in television that established Barbera and his partner as true innovators of animation. Working on budgets a fraction of the size they were used to dealing with at MGM, the duo designed a system for limited animation and introduced generations to such indelible characters as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quickdraw McGraw, The Flintstones and the Jetsons, to name a few. Hanna-Barbera received eight Emmys, including the Governors Award of the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences in 1988.
Hanna-Barbera continued to produce TV animation through the 1980s, churning out such shows as The Smurfs, Tom and Jerry Kids and Pac-Man. Turner Broadcasting acquired the Hanna-Barbera library in 1991, changing the name of the studio first to H-B Productions Company, then Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. The library eventually found a home on Cartoon Network, where new Hanna-Barbera productions are developed under the Cartoon Network Studios banner.
During his 80s and into his 90s, Barbera continued to report to his office regularly, taking an active role in the creation of new Hanna-Barbera projects. In 1992, he served as a creative consultant for the animated feature film Tom and Jerry: The Movie, and exec produced Tom and Jerry Kids, a Hanna-Barbera/Fox Children’s Network series that ran from 1990 to 1994. He also saw his characters live on in the new television series Tom and Jerry Tales, which premiered this Fall during the Kids’ WB! block on The CW.
Barbera and Hanna were elected by their peers to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Hall of Fame in 1994, the same year Joseph penned his autobiography, My Life In Toons. In March of 2005, the Academy unveiled a wall sculpture depicting the toon creators surrounded by some of their most famous characters. Hanna passed away in 2001. Barbera is survived by his wife, Sheila, and his three children by a previous marriage ‘Jayne, Neal and Lynn.