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.) was an American animation studio that dominated American television animation for over three decades in the mid 20th century.
It was founded in 1957 by former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (creators of Tom and Jerry) and live-action director George Sidney in partnership with Screen Gems, a TV unit of Columbia Pictures. In late 1966, it was sold to Taft Broadcasting and spent two decades as its subsidiary. It is officially considered the very first major animation studio to successfully produce cartoons exclusively for television.
Hanna-Barbera is known for creating a wide variety of popular animated characters and for 30 years, the studio produced a succession of cartoon shows, including The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo and The Smurfs. For their achievements, Hanna and Barbera together won seven Academy Awards, eight Emmy Awards, a Governors Award, a Golden Globe Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The pair was also inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1993.
The two men and their company yielded over 3,500 half hours of animated programming for network and syndication and 31 television movies, 48 television specials, 12 theatrical films, 48 theatrical shorts and 25 direct-to-video features were also produced by the studio. Many of Hanna-Barbera's cartoons were distributed and seen worldwide in over 175 countries in 45 languages around the world. Most of the shows Hanna and Barbera created revolved around close friendship or partnership.
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 named Great American Broadcasting) by Turner Broadcasting System, who used much of its back catalog to program its new channel, Cartoon Network. After Turner purchased the company, Hanna and Barbera continued to serve as creative consultants and mentors.
Turner merged with Time Warner in 1996 and the studio became a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Animation, in which Hanna-Barbera would absorb into before Hanna died in 2001. Cartoon Network Studios continued the projects for the channel's output. Barbera went on to work for Warner Bros. Animation until his death in 2006.
As of 2017, 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. In 2005, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Hanna and Barbera with a wall sculpture of themselves and their characters at the Television Academy's Hall of Fame Plaza.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1939–57: Humble beginnings, theatrical shorts and birth of a TV studio
- 1.2 1957–69: Success with television cartoons
- 1.3 1970–79: New cartoons and live action ventures
- 1.4 International expansion and educational projects
- 1.5 Production process changes
- 1.6 1980–90: Rise, fall and decline
- 1.7 1991–96: Turner rebound and partnership with Cartoon Network
- 1.8 1996–2006: Demise of Hanna-Barbera and merge into Warner Bros. Animation
- 1.9 2016–present: New projects
- 2 Merchandise
- 3 Sound effects
- 4 List of Hanna-Barbera productions
- 5 Gallery
- 6 See also
1939–57: Humble beginnings, theatrical shorts and birth of a TV studio
Melrose, New Mexico native William Hanna and New York City-born of Italian heritage Joseph Barbera first met while working at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio in 1939. Their first directorial production and collaboration was the Academy Award-nominated Puss Gets the Boot (1940), which served as the basis for the popular 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 and Barbera in charge of the stories and pre-production.
Hanna also provided the screams, yelps, howls and yells for Tom Cat. In addition to the series being nominated for twelve more Oscars, seven of the cartoons won the Academy Award 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. Hanna and Barbera also did animated/live-action musical sequences for Anchors Aweigh, Invitation to the Dance and Dangerous When Wet and a handful of 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, 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. 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.
Hanna and Barbera, contemplating their future while completing the final Tom and Jerry cartoons, began producing animated TV commercials. During their last year at MGM, they developed a concept for an animated TV program about a dog and cat in various misadventures. 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 features (including the 1945 film Anchors Aweigh, which featured Jerry Mouse in a dance sequence with Gene Kelly) offered to serve as their business partner and convinced Screen Gems, TV subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, to make a deal with the producers.
A coin toss determined that Hanna would have precedence in the naming the new studio. Harry Cohn, president and head of Columbia Pictures, took an 18 percent ownership in Hanna and Barbera's new company, H-B Enterprises, 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. Their new cartoon firm officially opened for business in rented offices on the lot of Kling Studios — formerly Charlie Chaplin Studios — on July 7, 1957, two months after the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studio closed down.
Sidney and several Screen Gems alumni became members of the studio's board of directors. Much of the former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 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 H-B. 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.
1957–69: Success with television cartoons
H-B Enterprises was one of the first American cartoon studios to successfully produce cartoons specifically for TV broadcast. Previously, animated programming on TV was primarily of rebroadcasts of theatrical cartoons. Its first original animated TV series, The Ruff and Reddy Show, premiered on NBC in December 1957. Next was the studio's first big hit The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958, a syndicated animated series aired in most markets just before primetime. 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 ever to win an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming.
Expanding rapidly following its initial success, 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 as well as Joe Ruby and Ken Spears as film editors and Iwao Takamoto as character designer. 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 series, Loopy De Loop, followed in 1959.
Hanna and Barbera then also migrated into network primetime production with the ABC smash hit The Flintstones in 1960. Loosely based upon the Jackie Gleason series The Honeymooners, yet set in a fictionalized stone age of cavemen and dinosaurs, the show ran for six seasons, becoming a ratings and merchandising success. It was the longest-running animated show in American prime time TV history and the top-ranking animated program in syndication history until being beaten out by The Simpsons in 1996. The Yogi Bear Show, the studio's first spinoff, premiered in syndication in 1961.
Top Cat, Wally Gator, Touche Turtle and Dum Dum, Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har (the three shows part of The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series), The Jetsons and The Magilla Gorilla Show debuted in 1961, 1962 and 1963. 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 also 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.
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 after later additions, a Jetsons-like tower. Newer programs of Jonny Quest, The Peter Potamus Show, Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel and Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt came in 1964 and 1965.
The Hanna-Barbera and Screen Gems partnership lasted until 1965, when Hanna and Barbera announced the sale of the studio to Taft Broadcasting. Its 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 animation firm had undervalued the Cohns' 18 percent share in the company when it was sold a few years previously.
In 1966, an adaptation of Laurel and Hardy, Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles, which blended action-adventure with the earlier Hanna-Barbera humor and Space Ghost, which featured action-adventure, debuted. By December 1966, the litigation had been settled and the studio was finally acquired for $12 million by Taft, who would spend 1967 and 1968 folding it into its corporate structure and became its distributor. Both Hanna and Barbera stayed on to run the company. Screen Gems retained licensing and distribution rights to Hanna-Barbera's previously produced cartoons, as well as the trademarks to the characters from those shows into the 1970s and 1980s.
A number of 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 (also known as Young Samson). New TV programs arose in 1968, such as The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, The Adventures of Gulliver and The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 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, headed by Danny Hutton and distributed by Columbia Records. It featured artists 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 Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969, which blended elements of comedy, action, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and I Love a Mystery. The series centered on four teenagers and a dog solving supernatural mysteries.
1970–79: New cartoons and live action ventures
Hanna and Barbera and their studio had rapidly controlled over 80% of children's programming for television at the start of 1970s and secured the top three Saturday morning ratings as well, making them the world's biggest and largest animation company in the business. On the horizon, Hanna-Barbera produced and unleashed a steady stream of further new shows for primetime, fresh cartoons for Saturday mornings, programs featuring mystery-solving, crime-fighting teenagers with comical pets and or mascots and many spinoffs for broadcast and the air.
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 and The World's Greatest Super Friends.
The majority of American television animation was made by Hanna-Barbera and the only competition came from DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and Rankin-Bass. Filmation Associates lost ground to the Hanna-Barbera studios when the failure of its show Uncle Croc's Block led ABC president Fred Silverman to drop Filmation and give the network's Saturday morning cartoon time to Hanna-Barbera. 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. By this point in 1977, Ruby and Spears left to found their own studio Ruby-Spears Enterprises, with Filmways as its parent company.
In 1979, Taft bought Worldvision Enterprises, which would become the syndication distributor for Hanna and Barbera's cartoons. In a different venture, the studio tried its hand at producing TV shows and films entirely in live-action (for example, the realistic 1974 series Korg: 70,000 B.C.), though its success selling such programming was limited by its track record as an animation company. Hanna-Barbera had already got into the live-action stuff earlier in the late sixties (mixing it with animation). Its live-action division was spun off and renamed Solow Production Company, which immediately following the name change, was able to sell the action adventure TV series Man from Atlantis to NBC.
International expansion and educational projects
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 Italy, Hanna-Barbera's cartoons has become very popular, despite Barbera was of Italian origin. 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.
The studio's educational unit produced 26 new animated filmstrips part of its series Hanna-Barbera Educational Filmstrips, featuring its popular characters in new educated material. They were distributed to school classrooms by Barr Films and later by RADMAR from 1978 to 1980. For earthquake preparedness, Yogi Bear, one of Hanna and Barbera's most famous created stars, was chosen to be spokesman and mascot for Earthquake Preparedness Month in California and its most notable event is the Shakey Quakey Schoolhouse exhibit.
Production process changes
Hanna-Barbera have produced nightly primetime, Saturday morning and weekday afternoon cartoons for all three major networks and syndication in the U.S. from 1957 to 1995. The small budgets that TV animation producers had to work within prevented them, and most other producers of American TV animation, from working with the full theatrical-quality animation the duo had been known for at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While the budget for a seven-minute Tom and Jerry short 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.
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". 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. An executive who worked for Walt Disney Productions said, "We don't even consider [them] competition". 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. Besides copying their own works, Hanna-Barbera would draw inspiration from the works of other people and studios. 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. 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.
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 features. It produced six theatrical features, 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. Wang Film Productions got its start as an overseas facility for the studio in 1978.
1980–90: Rise, fall and decline
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 most popular smash hit show The Smurfs, based on the characters and comics by creator and 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 for nine seasons, becoming a significant ratings success, the top-rated program in eight years, the longest-running Saturday morning cartoon series in TV history and the highest for an NBC program since 1970. Fresh animated shows of Pac-Man, The Little Rascals, The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour, Jokebook, Shirt Tales and The Gary Coleman Show first aired in 1982.
The Dukes, Monchhichis, The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show and The Biskitts came in 1983. Hanna-Barbera had set up a computerized digital ink and paint system at the studio around 1983 and 1984, and for its time, it was really innovative. It was one of the first to use digital coloring long before Disney and other animation studios started using the process as well. It did not require as much effort as the time consuming labor of painting on cels and photographing them. The studio did use it on some of its cartoons but not on all of them however. 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 made their 1984 debut airings. 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. The New Adventures of 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. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, The New Yogi Bear Show, Fantastic Max, The Further Adventures of SuperTed and Paddington Bear followed in 1988 and 1989. Worldvision was sold to Aaron Spelling Productions and ownership of its programming assets except for Hanna-Barbera's library, which remained owned by Great American. It continued to own H-B until a new owner was found. The staff got a call from Warner Bros. to resurrect its animation department and Tom Ruegger and his colleagues left to develop new TV programs there.
Meanwhile at Hanna-Barbera, David Kirschner was appointed new CEO, with Hanna and Barbera remaining as co-chairmen of the company. In 1990, under Kirschner's direction, the studio formed Bedrock Productions, a unit for various movies and TV shows for adults and children. Great American put Hanna-Barbera, along with Ruby-Spears, up for sale after being less successful and burdened in debt. New cartoon shows of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda, Tom and Jerry Kids, Wake, Rattle, and Roll (later as Jump, Rattle, and Roll), Rick Moranis in Gravedale High and Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone first aired for broadcast.
1991–96: Turner rebound and partnership with Cartoon Network
In 1991, Young Robin Hood, The Pirates of Dark Water and Yo Yogi! 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. This was with the intention of launching an all animation based network aimed at children and younger audiences. 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. In 1992, renamed as H-B Production Company, it made new shows, such as Fish Police, Capitol Critters and a second Addams Family series. 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.
In 1993, it changed its name once again to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. a year later as well as Turner acquiring the remaining interests of Hanna-Barbera from Apollo Investment Fund for $255 million while new cartoons of Droopy, Master Detective, The New Adventures of Captain Planet, 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 first aired, then came What a Cartoon! (known as World Premiere Toons), an animation showcase led by Frederator Studios founder Fred Seibert.
It featured new creator driven shorts developed by its in-house staff. Several 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. Regular new Hanna-Barbera shows of Cave Kids and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest premiered in 1996. Also, Turner merged with Time Warner that same year.
1996–2006: Demise of Hanna-Barbera and merge into Warner Bros. Animation
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 The Powerpuff Girls as the final new television series produced by Hanna-Barbera along with the Tom and Jerry televised short The Mansion Cat from the company, it was absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation in 2001 while its name disappeared from new programs by the studio in favor of the Cartoon Network Studios label.
This of course came in handy with new animated TV shows that were produced outside the company during the late 1990s and early 2000s (most notably Stretch Films' Courage the Cowardly Dog, Curious Pictures' Codename: Kids Next Door and Renegade Animation's Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi and many others), but Cartoon Network had a hand in producing and creating as well as more fresh cartoons the studio continued to produce (ex.: Regular Show, We Bare Bears, Camp Lazlo and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends).
After a prolific partnership of 60-plus years in animation together, Hanna died of throat cancer on March 22, 2001 and Barbera would then move on to work at Warner Bros. Animation on new TV cartoon shows of What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! and Tom and Jerry Tales along with the theatrical animated short The Karate Guard until his passing on December 18, 2006.
2016–present: New projects
In early 2016, Warner Bros. announced plans for a shared universe of new animated films based on various Hanna-Barbera characters, starting with Scooby, a reboot of the Scooby-Doo film series, scheduled for theatrical release in May 2020.
Hanna-Barbera released its early VHS titles through Worldvision Home Video. During the shakeup at then owner Taft, which was transformed into Great American Communications, Worldvision was sold off. Accordingly, the animation company got 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 merger between Turner and Time Warner, Warner Home Video would handle the home video releases of the cartoons and later by Warner Archive.
DC Comics announced a comic book initiative titled Hanna-Barbera Beyond, to re-imagine some of the company'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. New titles arrived in March 2017 crossing over with the DC Universe. On June 29, Warner Bros. celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the formation the studio with a Hanna-Barbera Diamond Collection.
Besides its famous cartoon shows and characters, Hanna-Barbera was also noted for their large library of sound effects. Besides cartoon-style sound effects (such as ricochets, slide whistles, etc.), they also had familiar sounds used for transportation, household items and more. When Hanna and Barbera started their studio in 1957, they created a handful of sound effects, and had limited choices. They also took some sounds from the then-defunct Metro-Goldwyn Mayer animation studio and from various cartoon/movie studios like Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Animation, and Walt Disney Productions. By 1958, they began to expand and added more sound effects to their library.
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.
There are also some other sound effects like the crazy laugh sound done by veteran voice actor Daws Butler, a boing drum combined with a wiggle device for when something bounces off, other drum and cymbal crashes, a big bite performed by the voice of Muttley himself, a high frequency spring plucked four rapid times for when a laser gets shot, a big stone bell heavily bonked by another big stone for a Bronk effect, and a musical instrument vinged seven times for a slow motion replay of a clip, called Charlie Brown's Slo-Mo Take.
The cartoons also used Castle Thunder, a thunderclap sound effect that was commonly used in movies and television shows from the 1940s to the 1980s. 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. Starting in the 1960s, other studios began using the sound effects, including Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Universal Animation Studios, Disney Television Animation, Film Roman, MGM Animation, Cartoon Network Studios, DiC Entertainment, Hasbro Studios, Warner Bros. Animation and others.
By the 21st century, almost every animation studio was using the sound effects. Like Hanna-Barbera was in the 90s, they are used sparingly, while some cartoons and non-animated movies and shows like Warner Bros. Animation's Krypto the Superdog, Nelvana's The Magic School Bus, Disney's Bonkers, Spumco's Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, and A&E's Parking Wars, make heavy use of the classic sound effects, mostly for a retro feel. Some Hanna-Barbera sounds show up in various sound libraries such as Valentino and Audio Network. Hanna-Barbera Records (the studio's short-lived record division) released a set of LP records in the late 1960s entitled Hanna-Barbera's Drop-Ins, which contained quite a few of the classic sound effects.
This LP set was only available for radio and television stations and other studios. In 1973, and again in 1986, Hanna-Barbera 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 1992, a more vast collection compared to the early LP releases (including the sounds H-B had borrowed from other studios). 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 1996, more of the sound effects were available on The Turner Entertainment Co. Sound Effects Library .
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 Hanna-Barbera characters, and was hosted by Fred Flintstone. In 1996, it was reissued with the Pic-A-Nic Basket of Cartoon Classics CD set, which also contained three other CDs of Hanna-Barbera television themes, 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, such as Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, Gravedale High, Fish Police, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron and Johnny Bravo as well as the 1994 special Arabian Nights, the sound effects were virtually nonexistent, being replaced with newer, digitally recorded sounds (mostly from Sound Ideas), along with the Looney Tunes sound library by Treg Brown. A few early 1990s cartoons continued to use the sounds, such as Tom & Jerry Kids and The Addams Family. By 1996, each series from the studio typically had its own set of sound effects, including some selected from the classic H-B sound effects library, as well as some newer ones and some from various Disney and Warner Bros. Cartoons. (This was especially true of Dexter's Laboratory and Cow and Chicken).
Several of the classic Hanna-Barbera sound effects still pop up from time to time in many of Cartoon Network Studios' productions. 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 Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!) and a Looney Tunes series Wabbit, the Hanna-Barbera sound effects are very rarely used.
List of Hanna-Barbera productions
- Main article: List of works produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions