William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
By April 1938, Hanna and Barbera were a team. Barbera declared, "We understood each other perfectly, and each of us had deep respect for the other's work." Hanna's views were similar: "I always wanted to be a director. So did Joe. Our only problem was finding the big chance." This "big chance" was "Puss Gets the Boot"! For seventeen years, from 1940 to 1957, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera devoted themselves almost wholly to Tom and Jerry creating, under Fred Quimby's guidance, a series of fine cartoons, their excellence defined by the direction of Hanna and Barbera.
William Hanna was born in 1911 in Melrose, New Mexico. He studied journalism at UCLA, became an engineer for a short time, but left his job to become a draftsman. In 1931 he was hired to work for Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising on a temporary basis. In 1937, he became a full-time employee. He has defined his first tasks as follows: "To go for coffee, sweep up, wash the cells and drown the bosses in ideas." He eventually became the director and story editor. He directed the second cartoon, "Blue Monday" (1938), of the Captain and the Kids series, but production was called off due to the lack of adequate public response.
Joseph Barbera was born in New York in 1905 to Vincent and Frances Barbera of Palermo, Italy. Educated at New York University and the American Institute of Banking, he went on to work at the Irving Trust Company in New York, drawing during his free time and regularly receiving rejection slips from the various publications he submitted his work to. Colliers finally accepted a drawing and Barbera became a regular contributor to various magazines, ultimately leaving the world of finance. "Animation was something I really wanted to do," he confessed. He wrote to Walt Disney, who did not grant him an interview. "I'm glad he didn't," he remarked. "I would probably have become a devoted member of his team and would still be at the Disney Studios today." Barbera became a draftsman, and then an animator for Van Beuren Associates, a cartoon studio in the Bronx. In 1937 he was hired by MGM to work on Harman and Ising's productions.
Hanna and Barbera Post-MGM
Three years after Tex Avery's departure in 1954, Hanna and Barbera left MGM. While working on the Tom and Jerry series, they also made "Good Will to Men", a CinemaScope remake of "Peace on Earth", and two cartoons with Spike and Tyke.
Hanna and Barbera turned to television, then in full swing. On 7 July 1957, together with George Sidney, they formed Hanna-Barbera Productions Inc., with their own Hollywood studio at 3400 Cahuenge Boulevard. Joseph Barbera was president and William Hanna was vice-president. Their first production, "Ruff and Reddy", the story of a cat and dog, imposed new shooting standards and a budget that was much reduced in comparison to those at MGM: $2800 instead of $50,000 for each short film.
Hanna and Barbera head a veritable empire of eight hundred employees. Their animated films are distributed in more than eighty countries. In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera sold their studio (while retaining its directorship) to Taft Broadcasting and became part of Taft Entertainment Company. Barbera is president of the Greek and Huntington Hartford theatres, and chairman of the executive board of the Los Angeles City and County Earthquake Preparedness Committee. Hanna has a strong interest in navigation. Both men are involved with many charity organizations.