Joseph "Joe" Rolland Barbera, whose animation career expands from sketch artist to award winning producer; along the way Barbera was a story board artist, director, consultant and executive producer. Barbera, along with William Hanna, reached audiences aroung the world in over 20 languages. The cartoon characters that have entertained more than 300 million people, are still a powerful cultural icon as the legacy continues.
In December 2006, he died at age 95 in Studio City, California.
Born of Italian decent to immigrant parents, Joe Barbera was born, raised and lived in New York and the eldest of three sons. His father, a prosperous barber (owning three shops), squandered his earnings on gambling, eventually leaving the family where upon the young Joe turned to his uncle Jim as a father figure. Barbera married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Earl in 1935 with whom he had three children. They divorced in 1963 and shortly after he married Sheila Holden. Barbera and Holden were together until his death at the age of 95.
Barbera, a talented artist from a very young age, was also a keen boxer at the Erasmus High School, winning several amateur titles. Attended the American Institute of Banking, and art classes at the Art Students League of New York and the Pratt Institute before collecting an abundance of rejection slips for his art work, until a magazine eventually showed interest.
Whist Barbera had been at high school, he made a little support money as a tailor's delviery boy. After school he worked in a bank while attempting to publish his work by offering his art (cartoons), to various magazines before finding success with Collier's. His first real art job was at the Fleischer Studios in the Paint Department before improving his career at the Van Buren Studios as an animator and scriptwriter. Van Buren Studios shut in 1936 and Barbera relocated to Terrytoons.
In 1937 Barbera moved camp to join Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), where he met William Hanna. The pair began their collaborative journey at MGM when they founded Hannah-Barbera Enterprises, producing the infamous Tom and Jerry cartoons. Over their seventeen year span in the animation department of MGM, the two men created award winning material for film and also produced advertisements at the studios request. Eventually the studio decided that it would make budget cuts, the axe felling the animation department in a dramatic and abrupt end. MGM had thought the option of re-runs over new material being the better of the two.
The Hanna-Barbera Years
Having put the depression and regular work behind them, Joe Barbera and William Hanna decided their future lay as independents, and produced what would become a portfolio that could not easily be matched. In 1957 they produced a host of humorous animation starting with The Huckleberry Hound Show and introducing the world to a syndicate of TV programs along with it. The spectrum of Hanna-Barbera entertainment included; The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Pixie and Dixie, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs and many more.
The company changed hands several times, each time headed by it's original co-founders. Despite their deaths, the name Hanna-Barbera continues to endorse the original shows and the new releases based on the originals, along with the previous and current merchandise.
- Seven Oscars
- Eight Emmy Awards
- Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, 1976
- Golden IKE Award
- Pacific Pioneers in Broadcasting, 1983
- Pioneer Award
- BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), 1987
- Iris Award-NATPE Men of the Year, 1988
- Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1988
- Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Governors Award, 1988
- Jackie Coogan Award for Outstanding Contribution to Youth through Entertainment Youth in Film, 1988
- Frederic W. Ziv Award for Outstanding Achievement in Telecommunications, Broadcasting Division, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, 1989
- Elected to Television Academy Hall of Fame, 1991
The Huckleberry Hound Show had produced the first Emmy Award for a cartoon, but more than that it had the largest adult appeal of any TV cartoon show; partially due to its air time but also due to its syndicate of inclusive material that at the very least abated the stress of an aftermath of World War II, and better touched the hearts of hundreds of millions around the world. Joseph Barbera leaves the world with continued enjoyment through a gamut of cartoon characters that satisfied the basic humor need from early life, through the formative years and on to adult.