Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. (simply known as Hanna-Barbera and also referred to as H-B Enterprises, H-B Production Company and Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.) is an American animation studio that serves as a division of Warner Bros. Animation. It was founded in 1957 by former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation directors and Tom and Jerry creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. For more than three decades in the mid-20th century, it was a prominent force in American television animation.

The studio is known for creating a wide variety of popular animated characters and throughout the next 30 years, it produced a succession of cartoon shows, including The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo and The Smurfs.[1] Hanna and Barbera together won seven Academy Awards, a Governors Award, eight Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame[2][3] for their achievements and were also inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1993.

In 1966, with H-B firmly established as a successful company, Hanna, Barbera and original investor George Sidney sold it to Taft Broadcasting Co., of which it continued to operate as a subsidiary for the next quarter-century. Hanna-Barbera's fortunes declined in the mid-1980s when the profitability of Saturday morning cartoons was eclipsed by weekday afternoon syndication. In late 1991, the studio was purchased from Taft (by then renamed Great American Broadcasting) by Turner Broadcasting System, who used much of its back catalog as programming for its new channel, Cartoon Network.[4][5]

After Turner purchased the company, Hanna and Barbera continued to serve as creative consultants and mentors. The studio became a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Animation in 1996, following the Turner and Time Warner merger, and would be absorbed into that company before Hanna's death in 2001. In 2005, Hanna and Barbera were honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a wall sculpture of themselves and their characters at the Television Academy's Hall of Fame Plaza.

Cartoon Network Studios continued the projects for the channel's output. Barbera went on to work for Warner Bros. Animation until he died in 2006. As of 2018, the studio exists as an in-name-only unit used to market properties and productions associated with the Hanna-Barbera library, specifically its "classic" works.


1939–1957: Humble beginnings, Tom & Jerry, other shorts

William Hanna, a native of Melrose, New Mexico and Joseph Barbera, born of Italian heritage in New York City, first met at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in 1939, while working at its animation division (thru its Rudolf Ising unit) and thus began a partnership that would last for over six decades. Their first directorial production and collaboration was the Academy Award-nominated Puss Gets the Boot, featuring a cat named Jasper and an unnamed mouse, released to theaters in 1940. It served as the basis for the popular long-running Tom and Jerry series of short subject theatricals. Hanna and Barbera served as directors of the shorts for over 20 years, with Hanna in charge of supervising the animation[6] and Barbera in charge of the stories and pre-production.

The screams, yelps, howls and yells of Tom were provided by Hanna and in addition to the series being nominated for twelve more Oscars, seven of the cartoons won a total of seven Academy Awards for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) between 1943 and 1953. The trophies were awarded to their producer Fred Quimby, who was not involved in the creative development of the shorts.[7]:83–84 Hanna and Barbera also did new animated and live-action musical sequences for Anchors Aweigh (notable for its dance sequence featuring Gene Kelly and Jerry), Invitation to the Dance and Dangerous When Wet along with a handful of new one-shot cartoons for MGM: Gallopin' Gals, Officer Pooch, War Dogs and Good Will to Men, a remake of Peace on Earth.

With Quimby's retirement in 1955, Hanna and Barbera became the producers in charge of the MGM animation studio's output,[8] supervising the last seven shorts of Tex Avery's Droopy series and directing and producing a short-lived Tom and Jerry spin-off series, Spike and Tyke, which ran for two entries. In addition to their work on the cartoons, the two men moonlighted on outside projects, including the original title sequences and commercials for the CBS sitcom I Love Lucy.[9] With the rise of television, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided in early 1957 to close its cartoon studio, as it felt it had acquired a reasonable backlog of shorts for re-release.[8]

Mid-1957: Birth of television and the Hanna-Barbera studio

While contemplating their future, Hanna and Barbera began producing animated television commercials[10] and during their last year at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, they had developed a concept for a new animated TV program about a dog and cat duo in various misadventures.[10] After they failed to convince the studio to back their venture, live-action director George Sidney, who had worked with Hanna and Barbera on several of his theatrical features for MGM, offered to serve as their business partner and convinced Screen Gems, a television production subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, to make a deal with the producers.[11]

A coin toss would determined that Hanna would have precedence in naming the new studio. Harry Cohn, president and head of Columbia Pictures, took an 18% ownership in Hanna and Barbera's new company, H-B Enterprises,[11] and provided working capital. Screen Gems became the new studio's distributor and its licensing agent, handling merchandizing of the characters from the animated programs.[12] The duo's cartoon firm officially opened for business in rented offices on the lot of Kling Studios (formerly Charlie Chaplin Studios[9]) on July 7, 1957, two months after the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studio closed down.[10]

Sidney and several Screen Gems alumni became members of the studio's board of directors and much of the former MGM animation staff — including animators Carlo Vinci, Kenneth Muse, Lewis Marshall, Michael Lah and Ed Barge and layout artists Ed Benedict and Richard Bickenbach — became the new production staff for the H-B studio.[10] Conductor and composer Hoyt Curtin was in charge of providing the music while many voice actors came on board, such as Daws Butler, Don Messick, Julie Bennett, Mel Blanc, Howard Morris, John Stephenson, Hal Smith and Doug Young.

1957–1969: First emmy win, success of a prime time show and more

Hanna-Barbera's first studio logo, used from 1957 to 1959

H-B Enterprises was the very first major animation studio to successfully produce cartoons exclusively for television.[13] Previously, animated programming was primarily rebroadcasts of theatrical cartoons. Its first original animated television series, The Ruff and Reddy Show, premiered on NBC in December 1957.[14] Next was The Huckleberry Hound Show, its first big hit, premiering in 1958, was syndicated and aired in most markets just before prime time. A ratings success, it introduced a new crop of cartoon stars to audiences, in particular Huckleberry Hound, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks and Yogi Bear. It was the first to win an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming.

At the blackboard (from left to right): Barbera, Hanna and writer Warren Foster. Seated on right side (from left to right): production supervisor Howard Hanson, writer Michael Maltese, story director Alex Lovy. Seated on left side (from left to right): story artist Dan Gordon and associate producer Alan Dinehart.

The company began expanding rapidly following its initial success and several animation industry alumni – in particular former Warner Bros. Cartoons storymen Michael Maltese and Warren Foster, who became new head writers for the studio – joined the staff at this time along with Joe Ruby and Ken Spears as film editors and Iwao Takamoto as character designer.[10] By 1959, H-B Enterprises was reincorporated as Hanna-Barbera Productions and started slowly becoming a leader in TV animation production from then on. A second syndicated cartoon show, The Quick Draw McGraw Show and its only theatrical short film series, Loopy De Loop, followed in 1959.

The ABC smash hit The Flintstones premiered in prime time in 1960. Loosely based on the CBS series The Honeymooners, it was set in a fictionalized stone age of cavemen and dinosaurs. Jackie Gleason considered suing Hanna-Barbera for copyright infringement, but decided not to because he didn't want to be known as "the man who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air". The show ran for an amazing six seasons, becoming the longest-running animated show in American prime time TV history, a ratings and merchandising success and the top-ranking animated program in syndication history until being beaten out by The Simpsons in 1996. It initially received mixed reviews from critics, but its reputation eventually improved and is now considered a classic.

In 1961, The Yogi Bear Show, the studio's first spinoff, premiered in syndication followed by Top Cat for ABC. The three shows Wally Gator, Touche Turtle and Dum Dum and Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har aired as part of The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series. For prime time, The Jetsons debuted in 1962. Several animated TV commercials were produced as well, often starring their own characters (probably the best known is a series of Pebbles cereal commercials for Post featuring Barney tricking Fred into giving him his Pebbles cereal). Hanna-Barbera's own Ed Benedict produced the opening credits for Bewitched, in which animated caricatures of Samantha and Darrin appeared. These characterizations were reused in the fifth season Flintstones episode, "Samantha", voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York.

The former Hanna-Barbera building at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Hollywood, California, seen in a 2007 photograph. The small yellow structure (lower right) was originally the "guard shack" for the property entrance to the east of the building.

In 1963, its operations moved off the Kling lot (by then renamed the Red Skelton Studios) to new location at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Hollywood, California. This contemporary office building was designed by architect Arthur Froehlich. Its ultra-modern design included a sculpted latticework exterior, moat, fountains and a Jetsons-like tower. In 1964, its first theatrical film Hey There, It's Yogi Bear was released to theaters while newer programs of The Magilla Gorilla Show, The Peter Potamus Show and Jonny Quest aired. Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel and Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt came in 1965. Screen Gems and Hanna-Barbera's partnership lasted until 1965, when Hanna and Barbera announced the sale of their studio to Taft Broadcasting.[12]

Taft's acquisition of Hanna-Barbera was delayed for a year by a lawsuit from Joan Perry, John Cohn, and Harrison Cohn – the wife and sons of former Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn, who felt that the studio undervalued the Cohns' 18% share in the company when it was sold a few years previously.[15] In 1966, Laurel and Hardy debuted on the air while The Man Called Flintstone came to theaters. Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles and Space Ghost also first aired. By December 1966, the litigation had been settled and the studio was finally acquired by Taft for $12 million. It would fold it into its corporate structure in 1967 and 1968,[12] becoming its distributor.

The studio's "Zooming Box" logo, used from 1968 to 1973. It was later revived from 2003 to 2009.

Hanna and Barbera stayed on to run the company while Screen Gems retained licensing and distribution rights to the previously Hanna-Barbera produced cartoons,[12] along with the trademarks to the characters into the 1970s and 1980s.[12][16] A number of new comedy and action cartoons followed in 1967, among them are The Space Kidettes, The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, The Herculoids, Shazzan, Fantastic Four, Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor and Samson & Goliath (a.k.a. Young Samson).

Further on, new TV series of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, The Adventures of Gulliver and The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn arose on the air in 1968, while the successful Wacky Races and its spinoffs The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines aired on CBS, returned Hanna-Barbera to straight comedy, followed by Cattanooga Cats for ABC. The studio had its first (and only) record label Hanna-Barbera Records,[17] headed by Danny Hutton and distributed by Columbia Records.

It featured many music artists and performers of Louis Prima, Five Americans, Scatman Crothers and the 13th Floor Elevators. Previously, children's records with Yogi Bear and others were released by Colpix Records. Next came the breakthrough hit of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969, which blended elements of comedy, action, the TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and the radio show I Love a Mystery.[18][19] The series, which ran for two seasons on CBS, centered on four teenagers and a dog solving supernatural mysteries.

1970–1979: Scooby knockoffs, superhero hits, live-action

Hanna-Barbera is referred to as "The General Motors of animation" and as it turned out, it would eventually go even further by producing nearly two-thirds of all Saturday morning cartoons in a single year. At its peak, the company controlled over 80% of children's programming for television and at the top of its game, it secured the top three Saturday morning ratings as well, making it the world's largest animation powerhouse. On the horizon, the studio produced a steady stream of new prime time shows, fresh Saturday morning cartoons, mystery-solving and crime-fighting programs featuring teenagers with comical pets and or mascots, superhero and action-adventure productions and many new spinoffs for TV broadcast.

The studio's "Rainbow" logo, used from 1974 to 1978

These include Harlem Globetrotters, Josie and the Pussycats, Where's Huddles, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!, The Funky Phantom, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, The Flintstone Comedy Hour, The Roman Holidays, Sealab 2020, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, Speed Buggy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, Yogi's Gang, Super Friends, Goober and the Ghost Chasers, Inch High, Private Eye, Jeannie, The Addams Family, Hong Kong Phooey, Devlin, Partridge Family 2200 A.D., These Are The Days, Valley of the Dinosaurs, Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch, The Tom and Jerry Show, The Great Grape Ape Show, The Mumbly Cartoon Show, The Scooby-Doo Show, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, Clue Club, Jabberjaw, Laff-A-Lympics, CB Bears, The Robonic Stooges, The All-New Super Friends Hour, The All-New Popeye Hour, Yogi's Space Race, Galaxy Goof-Ups, Buford and the Galloping Ghost, Challenge of the Super Friends, Godzilla, Jana of the Jungle, The New Fred and Barney Show, Casper and the Angels, The New Shmoo, The Super Globetrotters, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, The World's Greatest Super Friends and Hanna-Barbera's first english dub series Amigo and Friends.

The majority of American television and film animation were made by Hanna-Barbera (including the 1973 animated film Charlotte's Web, which was owned by Paramount Pictures via Paramount Animation) with their major competition coming from DePatie–Freleng Enterprises and Filmation Associates. With the failure of its show Uncle Croc's Block, Fred Silverman, president of ABC, dropped Filmation and gave H-B the majority of its Saturday morning cartoon time.[citation needed] Along with the rest of the American animation industry, it began moving away from producing all its cartoons in-house in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Joe Ruby and Ken Spears left to found their own studio Ruby-Spears Enterprises in 1977, with Filmways as its parent company. In 1979, Taft bought Worldvision Enterprises, which would become the syndication distributor for the Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

In a different venture, the studio tried its hand at producing TV shows and films entirely in live-action, though its success selling such programming was limited by its track record as an animation company. Hanna-Barbera had already gotten into live-action earlier in the late sixties (mixing it with animation). Its live-action unit was spun off and renamed Solow Production Company, which immediately following the name change, was able to sell the action series Man from Atlantis to NBC.[20] Hanna-Barbera's most distinguished live-action production by far was The Gathering, an Emmy award-winning TV movie starring Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton, written by James Poe and directed by Randal Kleiser.

International expansion and educational projects

Logo for the Southern Star/Hanna-Barbera Australia studio in 1986

In Australia, Hanna-Barbera Pty. Ltd. was formed in 1972 as an Australian unit of the American studio. In 1974, 50% of Hanna-Barbera Australia was acquired by the Hamlyn Group, which in 1978 was acquired by James Hardie Industries. In 1983, both Taft and James Hardie Industries reorganized the division as Taft-Hardie Group Pty. Ltd. The company established a division in Los Angeles known as Southern Star Productions, headed by Buzz Potamkin in 1984.

New cartoons produced by this unit, would be animated by the Hanna-Barbera studio in Sydney, Australia and carried the name Southern Star/Hanna-Barbera Australia. In 1987, Hanna-Barbera Poland was established to produce cartoon shows and VHS videocassettes for Polish-speaking audiences. It operated under that name until 1993. In Italy, Hanna-Barbera's cartoons had become very popular. The studio launched a major thrust into the European market with the introduction of the Hanna-Barbera Hour, which was supported by an integrated European marketing program.

For earthquake preparedness, Yogi Bear, one of Hanna-Barbera's most famous creations, was chosen to be spokesman and mascot for Earthquake Preparedness Month in California. Its most notable event is the Shakey Quakey Schoolhouse Van exhibit, a project by Barbera and Michael D. Antonovich as well as an educational film, produced by H-B and directed by Bill Perez for the City of Los Angeles Earthquake Preparedness Program, featuring Yogi showing and teaching the viewers what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Production process changes

From and between the years of 1957 to 1995, Hanna-Barbera had produced nightly prime time, Saturday morning and weekday afternoon cartoons for all three major networks and syndication in the United States. The small budgets that TV animation producers had to work within prevented them, and most other producers of American television animation, from working with the full theatrical-quality animation the duo had been known for at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While the budget for MGM's seven-minute Tom and Jerry shorts was about $35,000, the Hanna-Barbera studios was required to produce five-minute Ruff and Reddy episodes for no more than $3,000 a piece.[11]

To keep within these tighter budgets, Hanna-Barbera modified the concept of limited animation (also called semi-animation) practiced and popularized by the United Productions of America (UPA) studio, which also once had a partnership with Columbia Pictures. Character designs were simplified, and backgrounds and animation cycles (walks, runs, etc.) were regularly re-purposed. Characters were often broken up into a handful of levels, so that only the parts of the body that needed to be moved at a given time (i.e. a mouth, an arm, a head) would be animated. The rest of the figure would remain on a held animation cel. This allowed a typical 10-minute short to be done with only 1,200 drawings instead of the usual 26,000.

Dialogue, music, and sound effects were emphasized over action, leading Chuck Jones—a contemporary who worked for Hanna and Barbera's rivals at Warner Bros. Cartoons when the duo was at MGM, and one who, with his short The Dover Boys practically invented many of the concepts in limited animation—to disparagingly refer to the limited television cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera and others as "illustrated radio".[21] In a story published by The Saturday Evening Post in 1961, critics stated that Hanna-Barbera was taking on more work than it could handle and was resorting to shortcuts only a television audience would tolerate.[22] An executive who worked for Walt Disney Productions said, "We don't even consider [them] competition".[22] Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman argues that Hanna-Barbera attempted to maximize their bottom line by also recycling story formulas and characterization instead of introducing new ones.

Once a formula for an original series was deemed successful, the studio would keep reusing it in subsequent series.[23] Besides copying their own works, Hanna-Barbera would draw inspiration from the works of other people and studios.[23] Lehman considers that the studio served as a main example of how animation studios which focused on TV animation differed from those that focused on theatrical animation. Theatrical animation studios tried to maintain full and fluid animation, and consequently struggled with the rising expenses associated with producing it.[23] Limited animation as practiced by Hanna-Barbera kept production costs at a minimum. The cost in quality of using this technique was that Hanna-Barbera's characters only moved when absolutely necessary.[23]

Ironically, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Hanna-Barbera was the only studio in Hollywood that was actively hiring, and it picked up a number of Disney artists who were laid off during this period. Its solution to the criticism over its quality was to go into movies. It produced six theatrical films, among them are higher-quality versions of its TV cartoons and adaptations of other material. It was also the first animation studio to have their work produced overseas. One of these companies was a subsidiary started by Hanna-Barbera called Fil-Cartoons in the Philippines.[24] Wang Film Productions got its start as an overseas facility for the studio in 1978.[25]

1980–1990: Later years, Smurf craze, babyfication of older cartoons

Hanna (left) and Barbera pose with several of the Emmys the Hanna-Barbera studio won.

1980 saw the debuts of Super Friends, The Flintstone Comedy Show, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang and Richie Rich. New programs emerged in 1981, such as Laverne & Shirley, Space Stars, The Kwicky Koala Show and Trollkins. Taft purchased Ruby-Spears from Filmways the same year, becoming a sister company to Hanna-Barbera. While other animation companies of Rankin/Bass, Filmation, Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions, introduced successful shows based on action figures and toy lines, Hanna-Barbera continued to produce for Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons, but no longer dominated the TV animation market as it did formerly and its control over children's programming went down from 80% to 20%.

Hanna-Barbera's highly successful Daytime Emmy-winning show The Smurfs, based on the characters and comics created by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford (known as Peyo) and centering on a gang of little blue forest dwelling creatures led by Papa Smurf, premiered and aired on NBC for nine seasons, becoming the longest-running Saturday morning cartoon series in TV history, a significant ratings success and smash hit, the top-rated program in eight years and the highest for an NBC show since 1970.[citation needed] In 1982, fresh animated cartoons of Jokebook, The Gary Coleman Show, Shirt Tales, Pac-Man, The Little Rascals and The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour first aired along with the musical feature Heidi's Song for theatrical release.

The studio's "Swirling Star" logo, used from 1979 to 1985, based on a logo designed for Taft by Saul Bass.

The Dukes, Monchhichis, The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, The Biskitts and Lucky Luke came to the airwaves in 1983. The studio set up a computerized digital ink and paint system and was really innovative for its time. It was the first to use digital coloring long before other animation studios used the process. It did not require as much effort as time consuming labor of painting on cels and photographing them. It had been used on some of its cartoons. Many of Hanna and Barbera's shows were outsourced to Cuckoo's Nest Studios, Mr. Big Cartoons, Mook Co., Ltd., Toei Animation and Fil-Cartoons in Australia and Asia. The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, Snorks, Challenge of the GoBots, Pink Panther and Sons and Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show all aired in 1984.

CGI version of the studio's "Swirling Star" logo, used from 1986 to 1992. It was revived on The Powerpuff Girls from 1998 to 2001.

In 1985, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo along with Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Galtar and the Golden Lance and Paw Paws (the three shows introduced in The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera) debuted while new episodes of The Jetsons premiered. The studio presented The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible, its first made-for-video series.[26] A 1986 update of the 1964 series Jonny Quest, Pound Puppies, The Flintstone Kids, Foofur and Wildfire aired in 1986. Sky Commanders and Popeye and Son debuted in 1987.

Hanna-Barbera was affected by financial troubles of Taft, which been acquired by the American Financial Corporation in 1987 and renamed Great American Broadcasting the following year.[citation needed] A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, a revival of the 1961 series The Yogi Bear Show, Fantastic Max, The Further Adventures of SuperTed and Paddington Bear followed in 1988 and 1989. Worldvision and its programming assets was sold to Aaron Spelling Productions except for Hanna-Barbera's library, which remained owned by Great American. Some of the staff got a call from Warner Bros. to resurrect its animation department.[citation needed]

Tom Ruegger and his colleagues left to develop new TV programs there.[citation needed] David Kirschner was named CEO of Hanna-Barbera with Barbera and Hanna remaining as the company's co-chairmen.[27] In 1990, under Kirschner's direction, the studio formed Bedrock Productions, a unit for various movies and TV shows.[28] Great American put Hanna-Barbera, along with Ruby-Spears, up for sale after being less successful and burdened in debt. Jetsons: The Movie was released in summer of 1990 while new cartoon shows of Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone, Rick Moranis in Gravedale High, Tom & Jerry Kids, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda and Wake, Rattle, and Roll (later as Jump, Rattle, and Roll) first aired for broadcast.

1991–1996: Turner rebound, rise of Cartoon Network

One of the studio's "All Star" logos, used from 1993 to 2001

In 1991, Young Robin Hood (a co-production with Canada's CINAR), The Pirates of Dark Water and Yo Yogi! (widely cited as one of the worst cartoons of all time) aired. In November of that same year, the Hanna-Barbera studio and library, as well as much of the Ruby-Spears library, were acquired by a 50-50 joint venture between Turner Broadcasting—which by that time also bought the pre-May 1986 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer library—and Apollo Investment Fund for $320 million.[29] This was with the intention of launching an all animation based network aimed at children and younger audiences.[citation needed] Turner's president of entertainment Scott Sassa hired Fred Seibert, a former executive for MTV Networks, to head Hanna-Barbera.

He filled the gap left by the departure of most of their crew during the Great American years with new animators, directors, producers and writers, including Pat Ventura, Craig McCracken, Donovan Cook, Genndy Tartakovsky, David Feiss, Seth MacFarlane, Van Partible, Stewart St. John and Butch Hartman with Buzz Potamkin as new production head.[30] In 1992, the company was renamed as H-B Production Company, and more new shows, such as Fish Police, Capitol Critters and a second Addams Family series, made their debut. Meanwhile, Turner launched the world's first 24-hour all-animation channel, Cartoon Network to broadcast its huge library of animated classics, of which Hanna-Barbera was the core contributor. As a result, many cartoons, especially the Hanna-Barbera ones, were rebroadcast.[31]

Hanna, Iwao Takamoto, studio employee and Barbera, from July 14, 1996

In 1993, it changed its name again to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. That same year, Turner acquired the remaining interests of Hanna-Barbera from Apollo Investment Fund for $255 million[32] Both Once Upon a Forest and Tom and Jerry: The Movie (in which Barbera served as creative consultant) were released to theaters while new cartoons - Droopy, Master Detective, The New Adventures of Captain Planet (in Planet's case, taking over production from DiC), SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron and 2 Stupid Dogs debuted. In 1994, Turner Broadcasting refocused the studio to produce new shows exclusively for its networks. In 1995, Dumb and Dumber (the final Hanna-Barbera series to air on a broadcast network) aired.

Next came What a Cartoon! (known as World Premiere Toons), an animation showcase led by Seibert. It featured new creator-driven shorts developed for Cartoon Network by its in-house staff. Several new original series emerged from the project, giving the company its first smash hit since The Smurfs and the first show based on a What a Cartoon short was Genndy Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory. This spawned a multitude of new programs for the network better known as Cartoon Cartoons. New animated shows Cave Kids and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest premiered in 1996. Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner that same year.

1997–2006: Final years, absorption into Warner Bros. Animation

In 1997, while Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel made their debuts, the Hanna-Barbera building was facing demolition and was not to be named a Los Angeles city landmark despite pleas from people who wanted it protected as an irreplaceable part of entertainment and California history. Seven years later, after a long struggle, the studio building in the Cahuenga pass appeared to be safe from the wrecker's ball. As one of the last "big name" studios with an actual Hollywood zip code, Hanna-Barbera operated on its original lot until 1998, when its studio operations, company archives and extensive animation art collection were all moved northwest to Sherman Oaks, California as it occupied space in the office tower adjacent to the Sherman Oaks Galleria with Warner's animation unit.

With its final new series The Powerpuff Girls and the Tom and Jerry televised short The Mansion Cat, Hanna-Barbera absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation on March 12, 2001 while its name disappeared from new cartoons by the studio in favor of the Cartoon Network Studios label, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s, new animated shows were produced outside of H-B within broadcasting on Cartoon Network, most notably Stretch Films' Courage the Cowardly Dog, Curious Pictures' Codename: Kids Next Door, Renegade Animation's Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi and Unikitty! and many others, but even Cartoon Network itself lend a hand in producing as well as more cartoons the animation firm continued to produce (ex.: Regular Show, We Bare Bears, Camp Lazlo and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends).

Deaths of Hanna and Barbera

Following the Hanna-Barbera studio's absorption and a partnership spanning 62 years, Hanna died of throat cancer on March 22, 2001. After Hanna's death, Barbera moved on to work at Warner Bros. Animation on new cartoon shows of What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! and Tom and Jerry Tales, the three TV programs first aired on Kids' WB and the animated short The Karate Guard for theaters until his death of natural causes on December 18, 2006.[33] Tributes aired on Cartoon Network in honor of the duo's prolific career. For Hanna's tribute, black dots traced his portrait with the words "We'll miss you - Cartoon Network" fading on the right-hand side and for Barbera's (unlike his partner's), an audio clip of his voice played in his tribute.

2007–present: New projects based on legacy properties

Hanna-Barbera logo used in the 2017 reboot of Wacky Races, based on the 1974–78 "Rainbow" logo

Warner Bros. continued to produce new projects based on legacy Hanna-Barbera properties. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated premiered in 2010, The Tom and Jerry Show in 2014 and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! debuting in 2015. In 2016, it was announced that a brand new theatrical animated Scooby-Doo film reboot is currently in the works and was scheduled for release in September 2018, until it was pushed back two years to 2020, it was also announced that the new movie would be the first installment of a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe.

In 2017, a reboot of the 1968 series Wacky Races premiered on the Boomerang streaming service.


Hanna-Barbera released its early VHS titles through Worldvision Home Video but due to the shakeup at then owner Taft, which was transformed into Great American Communications, Worldvision was sold off. Accordingly, the animation company began its own home video line, Hanna-Barbera Home Video, which lasted until 1991 when Turner bought the studio and subsequently put the video line on moratorium. Thereafter, all Hanna-Barbera titles were distributed by Turner Home Entertainment. Then, following the Turner and Time Warner merger, Warner Home Video would handle the home video releases of the cartoons and later by Warner Archive.

There were also a slew of comic books featuring characters from its shows, including many by Archie Comics from 1995 to 1997. DC Comics took over doing the H-B comics since 1997. DC announced a new comic book initiative titled Hanna-Barbera Beyond, to re-imagine some of the Hanna-Barbera studio's classic cartoons into some darker and edgier settings. The first comic books on the line are Future Quest, Scooby Apocalypse, The Flintstones and Wacky Raceland.[34] New titles arrived in March 2017 crossing over with the DC Universe.[35]

On June 29, Warner Bros. celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the formation the studio with the Hanna-Barbera Diamond Collection, re-releasing the complete seasons and series of all of the classic cartoons on DVD in Region 1.[36]

Sound effects

The Hanna-Barbera sound effects are rarely and sparingly used in most children's programs from other studios, including Sesame Street, Family Guy, OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, Right Now Kapow, Sonic X, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, My Life as a Teenage Robot, The Fairly OddParents, Krypto the Superdog, Big Hero 6: The Series, Harvey Street Kids, Mighty Magiswords and other animated shows including animated films and video games such as Sonic The Hedgehog.

List of Hanna-Barbera productions

See also


  1. ^ Holz, Jo (2017). Kids' TV Grows Up: The Path from Howdy Doody to SpongeBob. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 81–85, 124–126. ISBN 978-1-4766-6874-1. 
  2. ^ "William Hanna – Awards". allmovie. Retrieved June 10, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Hanna-Barbera Sculpture Unveiled Animation Legends Honored in Hall of Fame Plaza". Emmys.com. March 16, 2005. Retrieved June 10, 2016. 
  4. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Hanna-Barbera Sale Is Weighed". The New York Times. July 20, 1991. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  5. ^ Carter, Bill (February 19, 1992). "COMPANY NEWS; A New Life For Cartoons". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  6. ^ Barbera 1994, p. 83–84.
  7. ^ Barbera 1994, p. 207.
  8. ^ a b Barrier 2003, pp. 547–548.
  9. ^ a b Leonard Maltin (1997). Interview with Joseph Barbera (Digital). Archive of American Television. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Barrier 2003, pp. 560–562.
  11. ^ a b c Hanna, William and Ito, Tom (1999). A Cast of Friends. New York: Da Capo Press. 0306-80917-6. Pg. 81–83
  12. ^ a b c d e Rogers, Lawrence H. (2000). History of U. S. Television: A Personal Reminiscence. Bloomington. IN. USA: AuthorHouse. pg. 444-447
  13. ^ Benzel, Jan (January 23, 1996). "Caveman to Carp: The Prime-Time Cartoon Devolves". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2009. 
  14. ^ Barbera 1994, p. 123.
  15. ^ Shostak, Stu (03-11-2011). "Interview with Jerry Eisenberg, Scott Shaw!, and Earl Kress". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013. Jerry Eisenberg, Scott Shaw!, and Earl Kress were all former employees of Hanna-Barbera over the years, and relate the history of the studio to host Stu Shostak
  16. ^ "BRIEFCASE: Great American Broadcasting". Orlando Sentinel. August 19, 1989. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ Davidson, Chris (March 27, 2007). "Animation + Rock = Fun: The Danny Hutton Interview". Bubblegum University. Archived from the original on February 24, 2009. 
  18. ^ Laurence Marcus & Stephen R. Hulce (October, 2000). "Scooby Doo, Where Are You Archived 2013-01-28 at the Wayback Machine.". Television Heaven. Retrieved on June 9, 2006.
  19. ^ Shostak, Stu (05-02-2012). "Interview with Joe Ruby and Ken Spears". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013.
  20. ^ Shostak, Stu (12-20-2006). "Interview with Mark Evanier". Stu's Show. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  21. ^ "The golden era - Cartoons - film, director, music". filmreference.com. 
  22. ^ a b (Dec. 2, 1961) "TV'S Most Unexpected Hit – The Flintstones" The Saturday Evening Post
  23. ^ a b c d Lehman 2007, p. 25.
  24. ^ Basler, Barbara (December 2, 1990). "TELEVISION; Peter Pan, Garfield and Bart – All Have Asian Roots". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  25. ^ Violet, Chang (May 1, 1998). "Wang's World". Taiwan Info. 
  26. ^ The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible: The Creation. 1987. VHS. Hanna-Barbera
  27. ^ David Kirschner named new head of Hanna-Barbera Productions; founders Hanna and Barbera to assume roles as studio co-chairmen. (William Hanna, Joseph Barbera)
  28. ^ Lev, Michael (January 9, 1990). "Hanna-Barbera Follows Disney Map". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  29. ^ "TBS Buys Animator Hanna-Barbera Library for $320 Million". Atlanta: AP. Oct 29, 1991. Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  30. ^ "What A Cartoon! Frame Grabs
  31. ^ Carter, Bill (February 19, 1992). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Turner Broadcasting Plans To Start a Cartoon Channel". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  32. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; TURNER BUYS REMAINING 50% STAKE IN HANNA-BARBERA". The New York Times. December 30, 1993. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Cartoon creator Joe Barbera dies". Dallas Morning News/AP. December 18, 2006. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2008. 
  34. ^ "Get to Know Hanna-Barbera Beyond". DC Comics. November 26, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  35. ^ Couto, Anthony (December 12, 2016). "DC'S HEROES & HANNA-BARBERA CREATIONS TO CROSSOVER IN MARCH ANNUALS". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved December 13, 2016. 
  36. ^ http://www.timewarner.com/blog/posts/20170628-happy-birthday-hanna-barbera

External links