World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Hanna-Barbera Productions


Hanna-Barbera Productions

Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
Private company (1957–1967)
Subsidiary (1967–2001)
Name-only unit (2001–present)
Industry Animation
Television production
Fate Folded into Warner Bros. Animation
Successor(s) Warner Bros. Animation
Cartoon Network Studios
Founded July 1957 (July 1957)[1]
Founder(s) William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
George Sidney
Defunct March 12, 2001 (March 12, 2001)
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, United States
Products Television series
Television specials
Motion pictures
Television commercials
Theatrical shorts
Direct-to-video films
Television films
Parent Independent (1957–1967)
Taft Broadcasting (1967–1987)
Great American Broadcasting (1987–1991)
Turner Broadcasting System (1991–1996)
Time Warner (1996–present, as AOL Time Warner from 2001–2003)

Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. (/ˌhænə bɑrˈbɛrə/, also known at various times as H-B Enterprises, H-B Production Company, and Hanna-Barbera Cartoons) was an American animation studio that dominated American television animation for nearly four decades in the mid-to-late 20th century.

The company was originally formed in 1957 by former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (creators of Tom and Jerry) and live-action director George Sidney in partnership with Columbia Pictures' Screen Gems television division.[2] Over the years, the studio produced many successful animated television shows, including The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Scooby-Doo and The Smurfs, among others. The studio also produced several theatrical films, short subjects, telefilms, specials and commercials, earning Hanna-Barbera eight Emmys,[3] a Golden Globe Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, among other merits.

In the mid-1980s, the company's fortunes began to decline after the profitability of Saturday morning cartoons was eclipsed by weekday afternoon syndication. In late 1991, the company was purchased by Turner Broadcasting System, who used much of the H-B back catalog to program its new channel, Cartoon Network.[4][5] Both Hanna and Barbera went into semi-retirement after Turner purchased the company, continuing to serve as mentors and creative consultants.

During the mid-1990s, Hanna-Barbera began producing original programming for Cartoon Network, including Cartoon Cartoons shows such as Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken and The Powerpuff Girls. In 1996, Turner merged with Time Warner, and Hanna-Barbera became a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Animation. With William Hanna's death in 2001, the studio was absorbed into its parent, and the spinoff Cartoon Network Studios continued the projects for Cartoon Network output. Joseph Barbera continued to work for Warner Bros. Animation until his death in 2006.

Hanna-Barbera Productions currently exists as an in-name-only company used to market properties and productions associated with the studio's "classic" works such as Yogi Bear and Jonny Quest. In 2005, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences unveiled a bronze wall sculpture of Hanna and Barbera and their characters, honoring the duo's work in television and film.


Melrose, New Mexico native William Hanna and New York City-born Joseph Barbera first teamed together while working at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio in 1939. Their first directorial project was a cartoon entitled Puss Gets the Boot (1940), which served as the genesis of the popular Tom and Jerry series of cartoon theatricals. Hanna and Barbera served as the directors and story men for the shorts for eighteen years. Seven Tom & Jerry cartoons won the Academy Awards for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) between 1943 and 1953, though the trophies were awarded to their producer Fred Quimby, who was not involved in the creative development of the shorts.[6]:83–84 With Quimby's retirement in 1955, Hanna and Barbera became the producers in charge of the MGM animation studio's output.[7] Outside of their work on the MGM shorts, Hanna and Barbera moonlighted on outside projects, including the original title sequences and commercials for the hit television sitcom I Love Lucy.[8]

MGM decided in early 1957 to close its cartoon studio, as it felt it had acquired a reasonable backlog of shorts for re-release.[7] Hanna and Barbera, contemplating their future while completing the final Tom and Jerry and Droopy cartoons, began producing animated television commercials.[1] During their last year at MGM, they developed a concept for an animated television program about a dog and cat pair who found themselves in various misadventures.[1] After they failed to convince MGM to back their venture, live-action director George Sidney, who'd worked with Hanna and Barbera on several of his features – most notably Anchors Aweigh in 1945 – offered to serve as their business partner and convinced Screen Gems, the television subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, to make a deal with the animation producers.[2]

Screen Gems took a twenty percent ownership in Hanna and Barbera's new company, H-B Enterprises,[2] and provided working capital to produce. H-B Enterprises opened for business in rented offices on the lot of Kling Studios (formerly Charlie Chaplin Studios)[8] on July 7, 1957, two months after the MGM animation studio closed down.[1] Sidney and several Screen Gems alumni became members of H-B's original 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 – as H-B's production staff.[1]

Television cartoons

Hanna-Barbera was one of the first animation studios to successfully produce cartoons especially for television.[9] Previously, animated programming on television had consisted primarily of rebroadcasts of theatrical cartoons. Their first cartoon series for television, The Ruff & Reddy Show, featuring live-action host Jimmy Blaine and several older Columbia-owned cartoons as filler, premiered on NBC in December 1957. In 1958, H-B had their first big success with The Huckleberry Hound Show, a syndicated series aired in most markets just before primetime. The program was a ratings success, and introduced a new crop of cartoon stars to audiences, in particular Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. The show won the 1960 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming. The studio began to expand rapidly following the success of Huckleberry Hound, and several animation industry alumni – in particular former Warner Bros. Cartoons storymen Michael Maltese and Warren Foster, who became H-B's new head writers – joined the staff at this time.[1]

By 1959, H-B Enterprises was reincorporated as Hanna-Barbera Productions, and was slowly becoming a leader in television animation production. After introducing a second syndicated series, The Quick Draw McGraw Show, in 1959, Hanna-Barbera migrated into network primetime production with the animated ABC sitcom The Flintstones in 1960. Loosely based upon the popular live-action sitcom The Honeymooners, yet set in a fictionalized stone age of cavemen and dinosaurs, the show ran for six seasons in prime time on ABC, becoming a ratings and merchandising success. It was the longest-running animated show in American prime time television history until being beaten out by The Simpsons in 1996. During the early and mid-1960s, the studio debuted several new successful programs, among them prime time ABC series such as Top Cat, The Jetsons and Jonny Quest. New shows produced for syndication and Saturday mornings included The Yogi Bear Show – a syndicated spinoff from The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series featuring Wally Gator, The Magilla Gorilla Show, The Peter Potamus Show and The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show.

Hanna-Barbera also produced several television commercials, often starring their own characters, and animated the opening credits for the ABC sitcom Bewitched (the Bewitched characters would also appear as guest stars in an episode of The Flintstones). The studio also produced a few theatrical projects for Columbia Pictures, including Loopy De Loop, a series of theatrical cartoon shorts, and two feature film projects based on its television properties, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! (1964) and The Man Called Flintstone (1966) and two TV specials, Alice in Wonderland (or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?) (1966) and Jack and the Beanstalk (1967), the first Hanna-Barbera television production to fully integrate live-action and animation.

Hanna-Barbera moved off of the Kling lot in 1963 and by then renamed the Red Skelton Studios – when the Hanna-Barbera Studio, located at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Hollywood, California, was opened. This California contemporary office building was designed by architect Arthur Froehlich. Its ultra-modern design included a sculpted latticework exterior, moat, fountains, and after later additions, a Jetsons-like tower. After the success of The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show in 1965, H-B debuted two new Saturday morning series the following year: Space Ghost, which featured action-adventure, and Frankenstein, Jr. and The Impossibles, which blended action-adventure with the earlier Hanna-Barbera humor style. A number of H-B action cartoons followed in 1967, among them Shazzan, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor, Young Samson and Goliath, The Herculoids and an adaptation of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four along with new syndicated shows based on famous celebrities such as The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show and Laurel and Hardy.

The Columbia/Hanna-Barbera partnership lasted until 1965, when Hanna and Barbera announced the sale of the studio to Taft Broadcasting.[10] Taft's acquisition of Hanna-Barbera was delayed for a year by a lawsuit from Joan Perry, John Cohn, and Harrison Cohn - the widow and sons of former Columbia head Harry Cohn - who felt that Hanna-Barbera had undervalued their 18% share in the company when they sold it a few years prior.[11] By December 1966, the litigation had been settled and Taft finally acquired the company for $12 million.[10] Hanna and Barbera stayed on to run the company, and Taft became Hanna-Barbera's new distributor. Screen Gems retain distribution rights to the previous series until their final H-B deal for the 1966-67 shows (Space Ghost and Dino Boy, Frankenstein Jr, etc.) expired in 1974.[10]

In 1968, Hanna-Barbera mixed live-action and animated comedy-action for its NBC anthology series, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, while the successful Wacky Races, and its spinoffs The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, aired on CBS, returning H-B to straight animated slapstick humor. ABC would air H-B's Cattanooga Cats, which debuted the following year. The studio's next runaway hit came in 1969 with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, a CBS program which blended elements of Hanna-Barbera's comedy series, action shows, the live-action sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and the old time radio show I Love a Mystery. The series centered on four teenagers and a dog solving supernatural mysteries, and was popular enough to remain on the air and in production until 1986.

A cavalcade of Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera cartoons featuring mystery-solving/crime-fighting teenagers with comical pets and mascots soon followed, among them are Josie and the Pussycats, The Funky Phantom, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Speed Buggy, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kids, Goober and the Ghost Chasers, Clue Club, Jabberjaw, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and The New Shmoo. By 1977, Scooby-Doo was the centerpiece of a two-hour ABC program block titled Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, which also included Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and Laff-a-Lympics.

During the 1970s in particular, the majority of American television animation was produced by Hanna-Barbera. The only competition came from Filmation, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, Ruby-Spears, and a few other companies that specialized primarily in prime time specials, such as Rankin-Bass, Chuck Jones and Lee Mendelson-Bill Meléndez. Filmation, in particular, lost ground to Hanna-Barbera when the failure of Filmation's Uncle Croc's Block led ABC president Fred Silverman to drop Filmation and give Hanna-Barbera the majority of the network's Saturday morning cartoon time. Besides Scooby-Doo and the programs derived from it, Hanna-Barbera also found success with new programs such as Harlem Globetrotters, Where's Huddles, The Addams Family, These Are The Days and Hong Kong Phooey. In 1973, Paramount Pictures released the studio's first animated feature film not based on one of their television properties, Charlotte's Web, based the E.B. White novel. The syndicated Wait Till Your Father Gets Home returned Hanna-Barbera to adult-oriented comedy, although the show was more provocative than The Flintstones or The Jetsons had been.

The studio revisited its 1960s stars with Flintstones spin-offs such as The Flintstone Comedy Hour and The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, for CBS and The Flintstone Comedy Show and The New Fred and Barney Show for NBC. In 1980, all four Flintstones specials aired in prime time on NBC as a limited-run revival of the original 1960s series. "All-star" shows featuring Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Magilla Gorilla, Huckleberry Hound and other H-B animal stars included Yogi's Gang and Yogi's Space Race and the Scooby-Doo spin-offs, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, The Scooby-Doo Show, and Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo. Hanna-Barbera also produced new shows featuring older cartoon characters from the theatrical era of cartoons such as Popeye (The All-New Popeye Hour), Casper the Friendly Ghost (Casper and the Angels) and its founders' own Tom and Jerry (The New Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show).

Super Friends, a Hanna-Barbera produced adaptation of DC Comics' Justice League of America comic book, remained on ABC Saturday mornings from 1973 to 1986. The Kwicky Koala Show, a series about a zippy aussie marsupial koala bear named Kwicky, who would teleport out of harm's way and elude the pursuit of a klutzy wolf named Wilfred. First aired on CBS in 1981, it was Tex Avery's first and only project for Hanna-Barbera and his last creation. He passed on in 1980.

In 1977, CB Bears first aired on NBC while The Skatebirds made its debut on CBS respectively. Meanwhile, new productions were introduced such as Yogi's First Christmas, A Flintstone Christmas, Scooby Goes Hollywood, Yogi Bear's All Star Comedy Christmas Caper, The All-Star Comedy Ice Revue, Amigo and Friends (a joint production of Hanna-Barbera and Televisa and remake of the Mexican animated series Cantinflas Show), The Last of the Curlews, the 1982 feature film Heidi's Song, The Popeye Valentine's Day Special: Sweethearts at Sea, the Casper specials (Casper's First Christmas and Casper's Halloween Special) and Cyrano. A number of live shows and rides based on classic Hanna-Barbera series and characters were made for various theme parks including Kings Dominion. The studio also made a string of live-action television and film projects, including The Gathering, Going Bananas, C.H.O.M.P.S., Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince, Korg: 70,000 B.C. and Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.

New specials aired, including The Flintstones' 25th Anniversary Celebration, focusing on the show's 25 years on air and The Flintstone Kids' "Just Say No", about Fred and the gang refusing to do drugs. In 1989, TNT aired Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba Dabba Doo Celebration, a special celebrating Hanna and Barbera's fifty years in animation. Barbera teamed with the City of Los Angeles Earthquake Preparedness Program and Michael D. Antonovich for a new project called Shakey Quakey Schoolhouse with Yogi as spokesbear while H-B and its characters were involved in other programs with UNICEF, DARE and March of Dimes. Next was Peter Puck, a hockey puck-shaped character made by the studio in partnership with Donald Carswell. All nine 30 minute Peter Puck episodes were broadcast between periods of NHL hockey games.

Hanna-Barbera Records

Starting in 1965, Hanna-Barbera tried its hand at being a record label for a short time. Danny Hutton was hired by Hanna-Barbera to become the head of Hanna Barbera Records or HBR from 1965 to 1966.[12] HBR Records was distributed by Columbia Records, with artists such as Louis Prima, Five Americans, Scatman Crothers (who later lent his voice to a few Hanna-Barbera cartoons, such as Hong Kong Phooey), and The 13th Floor Elevators. Previously, children's records with Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters were released by Colpix Records.

Quality controversy

From 1957 to 1995, Hanna-Barbera produced prime-time, weekday afternoon, and Saturday morning cartoons for all three major networks and syndication in the United States. The small budgets television 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 MGM. While the budget for a seven-minute Tom and Jerry entry of the 1950s was about $35,000, Hanna-Barbera was required to produce five-minute Ruff and Reddy episodes for no more than $3,000 a piece.[2] 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 TV cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera and others as "illustrated radio".[13]

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.[14] An executive who worked for Walt Disney Productions said, "We don't even consider [them] competition".[14] Ironically, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Hanna-Barbera was the only animation studio in Hollywood that was actively hiring, and it picked up a number of Disney artists who were laid off during this period. The studio's solution to the criticism over its quality was to go into features. The studio produced six theatrical features, among them higher-quality versions of its hit television cartoons and adaptations of other material. Hanna-Barbera was also the first animation studio to have their animation work produced overseas.[15]

Slow rise and fall

In the 1980s, competing studios such as Filmation and Rankin/Bass began to introduce successful syndicated cartoons based upon characters from popular toy lines and action figures. These included He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power from Filmation and ThunderCats from Rankin/Bass. The Hanna-Barbera studio continued to produce for Saturday mornings but no longer dominated the market. Hanna-Barbera's then-parent Taft Broadcasting purchased Ruby-Spears Productions – founded in 1977 by former H-B employees Joe Ruby and Ken Spears – from Filmways in 1981, and Ruby-Spears often paired their productions with Hanna-Barbera shows. Taft also bought Worldvision Enterprises in 1979, which then became the syndication distributor for most of Hanna-Barbera's shows throughout the 1980s. It was also during this time that the studio switched from cel animation to digital ink and paint for some of their shows. Both Hanna-Barbera and Worldvision had their own home video labels – Hanna-Barbera Home Video and Worldvision Home Video, while many of the studio's productions were released by other VHS distributors.

In 1979, Fred Silverman called Hanna and Barbera, offering an "on the air" commitment if they could secure the television rights to The Smurfs, French cartoonist Peyo's popular Belgian comic strip, which had caught the attention of Silverman's young daughter. Hanna and Barbera did exactly that, and in 1981 they launched The Smurfs television series. The show centers around the society of tiny, blue creatures (dressed in uniform white hats and pants) lead by Papa Smurf. It ran for nine seasons on NBC, becoming the highest-rated program in eight years, with seven new specials alongside. It became the longest-running Saturday morning cartoon show in Hanna-Barbera's history, the highest for an NBC program since 1970 and was nominated multiple times for Daytime Emmys, winning two for Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series.

The studio followed the lead of its competitors by introducing new shows based on familiar licensed properties such as Pac-Man, Mork and Mindy, Snorks, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Pound Puppies, Richie Rich, Challenge of the GoBots, Laverne & Shirley in the Army, Shirt Tales, The Dukes, Monchhichis, The Little Rascals, The Gary Coleman Show, Foofur, Lucky Luke and also produced several ABC Weekend Specials. Some of their shows were produced at their Australian-based studio, a partnership with Australian media company Southern Star Entertainment, including Drak Pack, The Berenstain Bears, Teen Wolf and almost all of the CBS Storybreak specials. The studio worked on more new productions with less fanfare, such as The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible, Trollkins, The Little Troll Prince: A Christmas Parable, Star Fairies, GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords, Rock Odyssey, The Biskitts and Ultraman: The Adventure Begins.

After the success of CBS's hit 1984 Saturday morning cartoon series Muppet Babies, which featured toddler versions of the popular Muppets characters, Hanna-Barbera began producing shows featuring "kid" versions of popular characters, based upon both their own properties (The Flintstone Kids and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo) and properties from other companies (Pink Panther and Sons and Popeye and Son). In 1985, the company launched The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, a weekend-only syndication package which introduced new versions of old favorites like Yogi Bear (Yogi's Treasure Hunt) and Jonny Quest (The New Adventures of Jonny Quest) alongside reruns of Saturday morning shows and brand new originals such as Galtar and the Golden Lance, Young Robin Hood, The Further Adventures of SuperTed, Paw Paws, Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone, Paddington Bear, Fantastic Max and Sky Commanders along with the block's filler segment HBTV.

Also in 1985, DC Comics named Hanna-Barbera as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for its work on the Super Friends cartoon series. New shows were introduced featuring Yogi Bear (The New Yogi Bear Show) and Scooby-Doo (Scooby and Scrappy-Doo, The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo and The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries) along with The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley and Wildfire. After two decades in reruns, the studio revived The Jetsons for new episodes, running from 1985 to 1987 in syndication. Next came Superstars 10, an anthology series of ten syndicated movies that starred Hanna and Barbera's various stable of classic characters such as the Yogi movies (The Great Escape, The Magical Flight of the Spurce Goose and The Invasion of the Space Bears), the Scooby movies (The Boo Brothers, The Ghoul School and The Reluctant Werewolf), and other features (The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, The Good, the Bad, and Huckleberry Hound and Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats).

Throughout all of this, both Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears were affected by the financial troubles of their parent company, Taft Broadcasting, which had just been acquired by the American Financial Corporation in 1987 and had its name changed to Great American Broadcasting the following year. Many of the business deals were overseen by CEO of Taft Broadcasting, Charles Mechem. Along with much of the rest of the American animation industry, Hanna-Barbera had gradually begun to move away from producing everything in-house in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Much of the Hanna-Barbera product was outsourced to studios in Australia and Asia, including Wang Film Productions, Cuckoo's Nest Studios, Mr. Big Cartoons, Mook Co., Ltd., Toei Animation, and Hanna-Barbera's own Philippines-based studio Fil-Cartoons. In 1989, much of Hanna-Barbera's staff responded to a call from Warner Bros. to resurrect their animation department. Producer Tom Ruegger and a number of his colleagues left the studio at this time, moving to Warners to develop hit cartoon programs such as Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Batman: The Animated Series.

In the late-1980s and early-1990s, the Hanna-Barbera properties were licensed to Universal Studios, the company behind the live-action film adaptations of The Flintstones (The Flintstones and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, both directed by Brian Levant), the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera film ride attraction and the theatrical feature-length Jetsons: The Movie. Hallmark, together with H-B launched Timeless Tales from Hallmark, a series of adaptations based on classic fairy tales hosted by Olivia Newton-John. David Kirschner was appointed as the head of the Hanna-Barbera studio in 1989, with Hanna and Barbera remaining as co-chairmen.[16] He launched new shows such as Yo Yogi!, the adventures of teen-aged Yogi in a city mall, The Pirates of Dark Water, a Kirschner original, and a second Addams Family series. Less than successful and burdened with debt, Carl Lindner, Jr.'s Great American put both Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears up for sale in 1990. Also that same year, the Smurfs made their final television appearance in the drug prevention special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, produced by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation.

Turner rebound

In November 1991, the Hanna-Barbera studio and library, as well as much of the original Ruby-Spears library, were acquired by a 50-50 joint venture between Turner Broadcasting – which by that time had also bought the pre-May 1986 MGM library – and Apollo Investment Fund for $320 million.[17] Turner's president of entertainment Scott Sassa hired Fred Seibert, a former executive for MTV Networks, to head the Hanna-Barbera studio. He immediately filled the gap left by the departure of most of their creative crew during the Great American years with a new crop of animators, writers, and producers, including Pat Ventura, Craig McCracken, Donovan Cook, Genndy Tartakovsky, David Feiss, Seth MacFarlane, Van Partible, Stewart St. John, and Butch Hartman and new production head Buzz Potamkin.

In 1992, the studio was renamed H-B Productions Company, changing its name once again to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. a year later, the same year that Turner acquired the remaining interests of Hanna-Barbera from Apollo Investment Fund for $255 million.[18] In the early-1990s, the studio introduced new versions of classic properties such as Tom & Jerry Kids and its spin-off Droopy: Master Detective. The studio's first new live-action/computer animated special, The Last Halloween (with narration by Hanna), aired in the fall of 1991 on CBS while production assumed on TBS's Captain Planet and the Planeteers in 1993, renaming it The New Adventures of Captain Planet.

Barbera served as creative consultant for Tom and Jerry: The Movie, produced and directed by Phil Roman. The film was not well received by critics during its short run in theaters and was also criticized for giving the cat and mouse dialogue. Meanwhile, Hanna-Barbera also introduced new shows that were quite different from their signature cartoons, including Wake, Rattle, and Roll (a.k.a. Jump, Rattle and Roll), SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, Dumb and Dumber, 2 Stupid Dogs, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures, Fish Police, Gravedale High and Capitol Critters. A slew of new specials and telefilms from 1993 to 1995 first aired were I Yabba-Dabba Do!, Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby, A Flintstone Family Christmas, A Flintstones Christmas Carol, Jonny's Golden Quest, Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects, Yogi the Easter Bear, Arabian Nights, The Halloween Tree and The Town Santa Forgot. Most of these movies and specials were produced in a style that was radically different from their signature cartoon style (often emulating the Warner Bros. cartoons of the past, such as in Arabian Nights).

A new feature animation division led by David Kirschner produced Once Upon a Forest, which underperformed at the box office when released by 20th Century Fox in 1993. The feature division was spun off into Turner Feature Animation, which produced The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance. In 1992, Turner launched Cartoon Network, to showcase its huge library of animated programs, of which Hanna-Barbera was the core contributor. As a result, many classic cartoons – especially those by H-B – were introduced to a new audience.[19] In 1994, The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera finally ended, so that Turner could refocus the studio to produce new shows exclusively for the Turner-owned networks, especially Cartoon Network. In February 1995, Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network launched World Premiere Toons (a.k.a. What A Cartoon!), a format designed by Seibert. The weekly program featured 48 new creator-driven cartoon shorts developed by its in-house staff. Several original Cartoon Network series emerged from the project, giving the studio their first bona-fide mass appeal hits since The Smurfs.

The first series based on a World Premiere Toons short was Genndy Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory in 1996. Others programs followed, including Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, its spinoff I Am Weasel and The Powerpuff Girls. Hanna's first two solo written and directed shorts for World Premiere Toons were Hard Luck Duck and Wind Up Wolf while Barbera worked on two new cartoons Stay Out! and The Great Egg-Scape featuring the Flintstones' family pet Dino. Brand new direct-to-video Scooby-Doo movies from 1998 to 2001 (Zombie Island, The Witch's Ghost, The Alien Invaders and The Cyber Chase) were released while new shows The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and Cave Kids premiered in 1996. Barbera lent his voice as Tom's owner in Tom and Jerry: The Mansion Cat, first aired in 2001.

After the merger between Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner in 1996, the conglomerate had two separate animation studios in its possession. Though under a common ownership, Hanna-Barbera Productions and Warner Bros. Animation operated separately until 1998. That year, the H-B lot was closed and studio operations were moved into the same office tower as the Warner Bros. Television Animation division in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, adjacent to the Sherman Oaks Galleria.

Cartoon Network Studios era

Around 1999, the Hanna-Barbera name began to disappear from newer shows from the studio in favor of the Cartoon Network Studios label. This came in handy with shows that were produced outside H-B, but Cartoon Network had a hand in producing, such as Ed, Edd, and Eddy (from A.k.a. Cartoon), Mike, Lu & Og (from KINOFILM Animation), Courage The Cowardly Dog (from Stretch Films) and Sheep in the Big City and Codename: Kids Next Door (from Curious Pictures), as well as shows the studio continued to produce such as, Squirrel Boy, Samurai Jack and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. In April 2008, Cartoon Network would create their own animation anthology not unlike Hanna-Barbera's World Premeire Toons known as The Cartoonstitute, headed by two animators who got their start on the World Premeire Toons project, Craig McCracken and Rob Renzetti, with help from McCracken's wife, Lauren Faust, who is also an animator for Cartoon Network. The project was closed down due to the late 2000s recession, however, not unlike its "predecessor", it had spun off two series, Regular Show and Uncle Grandpa, the latter of which had been originally the basis for Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, but would later become its own series.

On March 22, 2001, William Hanna passed away of throat cancer. On The Rocks (a Flintstones telefilm), first aired on Cartoon Network in late 2001, was dedicated in his honor. Barbera continued to work for Warner Bros. Animation on projects relating to the Hanna-Barbera and Tom and Jerry properties until his death on December 18, 2006.[20] Today, the company is an in-name-only unit of Warner Bros. Animation, which administers the rights to its catalog and characters. New Warner productions based upon Hanna-Barbera's "classic" properties such as Scooby-Doo or Magilla Gorilla are copyrighted by H-B though Warner Bros. Animation is the one that produces these works. Most Cartoon Network shows the studio previously produced are copyrighted by the channel itself.


Visual style

Like most animation studios, Hanna-Barbera had a particular style and appearance which it is well known for. Although they were not the pioneers of the process, Hanna-Barbera were proficient in "limited-animation" style, in order to meet the "time vs. expense" demands of television production, which gave their cartoons a unique look for the time. Their overall style consisted of appealing but simplified character and setting designs, with straight-line sides contrasting the opposing projecting mounds and rounded angles, and a bolder edge line quality, all adding to the overall stylistically flat appearance. Most of their shows involved animals as central characters, with a range of anthropomorphization, from more "realistic" animals capable of understanding human speech and concepts; to talking animals with varied fluency in the English language; to upright walking animals wearing clothes and using props. Many of their iconic classic comedy cartoon characters wore stylized interpretations of out-of-fashion hats, resembling, for example, the pork pie, along with pieces of formal wear, which became part of their trademark design style. This is likely a reference to the influence of different iconic classic physical comedic performers, in particular: Buster Keaton (pork pie); Harold Lloyd (boater); Roscoe Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy (bowler); the Marx Brothers, and Jacques Tati.

The other common styles early Hanna-Barbera is known for, used for their action- or adventure-based shows, were the result of the personal styles of artists and designers who had worked for them during the studio's growth, most notably Alex Toth, Doug Wildey, and Iwao Takamoto; and with often little or no credit at the time. Looping backgrounds were also common in the stylistically limited approach of the studio, often resulting in repeated imagery in scenes involving moving shots with longer camera holds, such as walk sequences, and especially typical of run-cycles. All of which has become part of the cliche look, often still imitated today, sometimes as parody or for humorous effect. Even after the studio's revival and subsequent merger into other still-growing studios, some of its shows maintained elements of its iconic design qualities; for example, shows like 2 Stupid Dogs, which in particular helped launch the careers of several creators, often developing and collaborating on projects together, and whose own styles still retain elements of the classic Hanna-Barbera look.

Some of them include Paul Rudish, Rob Renzetti, Genndy Tartakovsky, Craig McCracken (My Life as a Teenage Robot, Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Sym-Bionic Titan, The Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, etc.); Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, and T.U.F.F. Puppy); Miles Thompson, and Zac Moncrief. Many other creators and shows from Cartoon Network and other studios also continue to be influenced by the well established Hanna-Barbera style they grew up with, along with other limited and stylized shows by other studios of the same era. Other shows and TV specials/movies Hanna-Barbera produced during the nineties looked quite different from the classic Hanna-Barbera style, sometimes using fuller animation.


The H-B Productions had different segments and times for incidental tracks production. Between 1957 and 1960, the incidental track was basically by symphonic arrangements, being Ruff and Reddy's series had its own symphonic themes. These themes used in the 1958 and 1959 to 1960s seasons to the first H-B shorts with Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks, Snooper and Blabber and Augie Doggie. From 1959 to 1960 series Loopy De Loop and The Flintstones, softly orchestrated themes, some of them almost sounding concrete music and some played only by accordion, were used in other H-B cartons between 1961 and 1963 – like Top Cat, Snagglepuss, Touché Turtle, Wally Gator and the Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound 1961 seasons and all of its segments – and eventually between 1964 and 1967, and rarely then until the eighties. Other incidental tracks, organ music played as The Jetsons score themes and arrangements mostly based on polka music, they were used in cartoons like The Magilla Gorilla Show and its segments.

Most Hanna-Barbera series through 1985 had original theme music by Hoyt Curtin, with lyrics (when used) by Hanna and Barbera themselves. Incidental music for the studio's cartoons through 1960 came from stock production music purchased from Capitol Records. The studio's first original scores were written by Curtin for a short-lived theatrical cartoon series, Loopy De Loop, distributed by Columbia Pictures. These scores were re-edited to form the nucleus of an original music library, to which Curtin added new themes with each subsequent series. Curtin's comedy themes were usually arranged for a small combo. For Jonny Quest, Curtin adopted a big band "crime jazz" musical style; these themes were re-used in many other adventure-type series that followed. Another composer, Ted Nichols, added to this with themes and scores for "The Fantastic Four," "Space Ghost," and others. Incidental tracks created for Johnny Quest, Space Ghost and Herculoids were written between 1964 and 1968, and were also eventually used in cartoons like The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show and Space Kidettes or also some Peter Potamus episodes.

In 1967, another incidental tracks, between new polka arrangements and some rock/soul influences, were adopted in several cartoons as Wacky Races, Cattanooga Cats and Josie and The Pussycats. With these themes, other orchestral themes were created for Scooby Doo's incidental tracks. These themes were largely used until 1973. In the seventies, other orchestral themes, with less creative arrangements in relation to the other described above, were used in 1973 to the eighties, including 1975's Tom and Jerry seasons, new series as Hong Kong Phooey, Jabberjaw, Scooby Doo and Flintstones ~~ 70's and 80's production. In the eighties, the incidental tracks in H-B cartoons were made by keyboard arrangements, and it's used until the end of the production company.

Hanna-Barbera's musically-oriented series such as The Banana Splits, Josie and the Pussycats, and The Cattanooga Cats employed such diverse talents as Barry White, Mike Curb, and Cheryl Ladd (then Cheryl Stoppelmoor) as studio musicians, arrangers, and vocalists. The Smurfs featured music based on classical themes, re-arranged by Curtin. Also from the early 1960s up until the early 1990s, Hanna-Barbera would often recycle music between shows in another attempt of cutting back; it was not uncommon to hear some music cues from The Flintstones show up on segments in The Yogi Bear Show, or some music from Wacky Races on Cattanooga Cats.

Hoyt Curtin retired circa 1989 and his successors moved away from his jazz-oriented style to concentrate more on synthesized music. Beginning around 1993, Hanna-Barbera began to steer toward full orchestral music, more often than not matching with the actions and movements on the screen, very much like Carl Stalling's music for the Warner Bros. cartoons of the past.

Sound effects

Hanna-Barbera was also noted for their large library of sound effects. Besides cartoon-style sound effects (such as ricochets, slide whistles and more), they also had familiar sounds used for transportation, household items, the elements, and more. When Hanna and Barbera started their own cartoon studio in 1957, they created a handful of sound effects, and had limited choices. They also took some sounds from the then-defunct MGM animation studios. By 1958, they began to expand and began adding more sound effects to their library. Besides creating a lot of their own effects, they also collected sound effects from other movie and cartoon studios, such as Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Animation, and even Walt Disney Productions.

Some of their famous sound effects included a rapid bongo drum take used for when a character's feet were scrambling before taking off, a "KaBONG" sound produced on a guitar for when Quick Draw McGraw, in his Zorro-style "El Kabong" crime fighting guise, would smash a guitar over a villain's head, the sound of a car's brake drum combined with a bulb horn for when Fred Flintstone would drop his bowling ball onto his foot, an automobile's tires squealing with a "skipping" effect added for when someone would slide to a sudden stop, a bass-drum-and-cymbal combination called the "Boom Crash" for when someone would fall down or smack into an object, a xylophone being struck rapidly on the same note for a tip-toeing effect, and a violin being plucked with the tuning pegs being raised to simulate something like pulling out a cat's whisker. The cartoons also used Castle Thunder, a thunderclap sound effect that was commonly used in movies and TV shows from the 1940s to the 1970s. Other common sounds such as Peeong (a frying pan hitting sound with a doppler effect) and Bilp were used regularly in all of its cartoons. Eventually, other cartoon studios began using the sound effects.

Hanna-Barbera Records (the studio's short-lived record division) released an LP record in 1965 entitled Hanna-Barbera's Drop-Ins, which contained many classic sound effects and dialogue clips from H-B characters. Only available for radio and TV stations and other production studios, it was meant to be the first in a series of records. In 1973, and again in 1986, H-B released a second sound effect record set; a seven-LP set entitled The Hanna-Barbera Library of Sounds, which, like the previous set, contained several of the classic sound effects. Like the previous set, this was only available to production companies and radio/TV stations. The 1986 version was also available as a two compact-disc set. In 1993, the last president of the studio, Fred Seibert recalled his early production experiences with early LP releases of the studio's effects, and commissioned Sound Ideas to release a four-CD set entitled The Hanna-Barbera Sound FX Library, featuring nearly all of the original H-B sound effects used from 1957 to 1990, a more vast collection compared to the early LP releases.

The sound effects were digitally remastered, so they would sound better on new digital soundtracks. A fifth CD was added in 1996, entitled Hanna-Barbera Lost Treasures, and featured more sound effects, including sounds from Space Ghost and The Impossibles. Also in 1994, Rhino Records released a CD containing some of Hanna-Barbera's famous sound effects, titled simply as Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Sound FX, and also included some answering-machine messages and birthday greetings and short stories starring classic Hanna-Barbera characters, and was hosted by Fred Flintstone. In 1996, it was reissued with the Hanna-Barbera's Pic-A-Nic Basket of Cartoon Classics CD set, which also contained three other CDs of H-B TV theme songs and background music and songs from The Flintstones. Here, the CD was relabeled as The Greatest Cartoon Sound Effects Ever.

In the 1980s, Hanna-Barbera slowly began to cease using their trademark sound effects. This was especially true with the action cartoons of the time such as Sky Commanders. By the 1990s, with cartoons shows such as Fish Police, SWAT Kats and the animated specials The Halloween Tree and Arabian Nights, the sound effects were virtually nonexistent, being replaced with newer, completely different sounds (mostly from Sound Ideas's Series 6000 "The General" library), as well as the Looney Tunes sound library by Treg Brown.

A few early 1990s cartoons continued to use the sound effects, such as Tom & Jerry Kids and The Addams Family. The H-B/Cartoon Network Studios output of the late 1990s typically had its own set of sound effects (to make them distinctive from each other), including some selected from the classic Hanna-Barbera sound library, as well as some new ones and various sounds from Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons (this was especially true of Dexter's Laboratory and Cow and Chicken). Several of the classic H-B sound effects are still used occasionally in several Cartoon Network Studios' productions (typically comedy-themed). However, on the recent Warner Bros. produced Scooby-Doo shows (What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated) and direct-to-video movies, the Hanna-Barbera sound effects are very rarely used. Ironically, Warner Bros. does use them more often on The Looney Tunes Show rather than Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.

List of Hanna-Barbera productions

See also




  • Barbera. Joseph (1994). My Life in 'Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta: Turner Publishing. 157-036042-1
  • Burke, Timothy and Burke, Kevin (1998). Saturday Morning Fever : Growing up with Cartoon Culture. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-16996-5
  • Hanna, William (1999). A Cast of Friends. New York: Da Capo Press. 0306-80917-6
  • Lawrence, Guy (2006). Yogi Bear's Nuggets: A Hanna-Barbera 45 Guide.


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.