Joseph Barbera - Biography - IMDb
Joseph Barbera Poster


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Overview (4)

Born in Little Italy, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Died in Studio City, Los Angeles, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameJoseph Roland Barbera
Nickname Joe

Mini Bio (1)

Joseph Roland Barbera was an American animator, film director, and television producer. He was the co-founder of the company Hanna-Barbera, with his longtime partner William Hanna.

Barbera was born in an Italian-American family. His parents were barbershop-owner Vincent Barbera (1889-1965) and Francesca Calvacca (1875-1969), both Italian immigrants from Sicily. Vincent was from the farming town of Castelvetrano, while Francesca was from the spa town of Sciacca (founded as the ancient Greek colony of Thermae).

Barbera was born in Little Italy, at the Lower East Side section of Manhattan. Months following his birth, Barbera's family moved to Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was mostly raised in Flatbush. Vincent Barbera grew prosperous for a while, but a gambling addiction led him to squander the family fortune. In 1926, Vincent abandoned his family, and Joseph was taken under the wing of his maternal uncle Jim Calvacca.

Barbera attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. During his high school years, he worked as a tailor's delivery boy. Meanwhile, he excelled in boxing and won a number of titles, but decided against becoming a professional boxer. He graduated high school in 1928, and started working odd jobs.

In 1929, Barbera first became interested in animation, after viewing Walt Disney's "The Skeleton Dance" (1929). Shortly after, he started working as a freelance cartoonist. Some of his print cartoons were published in Redbook, the Saturday Evening Post, and Collier's. Meanwhile Barbera took art classes at the Art Students League of New York and the Pratt Institute, hoping to improve his drawing skills.

Barbera was eventually hired as an inker and colorist by Fleischer Studios. In 1932, he was hired by the Van Beuren Studios as an animator and storyboard artist. At Van Beuren he worked on such film series as "Cubby Bear" and "Rainbow Parades". The studio's most prominent cartoon starts were a human duo known as "Tom and Jerry". Barbera worked on the Tom and Jerry series, and apparently liked the sound of the duo's name.

In 1936, Barbera left the financially struggling Van Beuren studio to work for Paul Terry's Terrytoons studio. In 1937, he left Terrytoons to work for the then-recently established Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio (1937-1957). MGM offered its animators higher salaries than what Terrytoons could offer. His first few years at the studio were not particularly notable. In 1939, he and co-worker William Hanna started working on the idea of a cat-and-mouse duo of characters. They were allowed to co-direct "Puss Gets the Boot" (1940), introducing the new duo of Tom and Jerry. It was critically and commercially successful, but studio head Fred Quimby was initially uninterested in producing a full series of Tom and Jerry films. The lack of success of other products of the studio convinced Quimby, and Barbera and Hanna became the head of their own production unit to work on the new series.

From 1940 to 1957, Hanna and Barbera co-directed 114 Tom and Jerry animated shorts. The Tom and Jerry series was very popular with critics and audience. But by the 1950s, production costs were high while the profitability of the shorts was lower than before. MGM decided to shut down its animation subsidiary. Barbera was unemployed for the first time in decades.

Barbera briefly partnered with Robert D. Buchanan (1931-) in production of an animated television series, the science fiction series "Colonel Bleep" (1957-1960). It was the first animated series specifically produced for color television. Barbera eventually left this partnership and teamed up with William Hanna again. They founded Hanna-Barbera Productions, their own animation studio. With theatrical animation in decline, they focused on the new market of television animation.

The studio's first television series was the moderately successful "The Ruff & Reddy Show". It was succeeded by the much more popular "The Huckleberry Hound Show" and "The Yogi Bear Show". Survey's revealed that the two shows had attracted an adult audience, convincing Hanna and Barbera that they could market animation to adults. Their next series was the animated sitcom "The Flintstones" (1960-1966), popular with both children and adults. Its success helped establish Hanna-Barbera Productions as the leader in television animation.

In 1966, Hanna-Barbera Productions was sold to Taft Broadcasting for $12 million dollars.Barbera and Hanna remained studio heads until 1991, when the studio was sold to the Turner Broadcasting System for an estimated 320 million million dollars. Barbera and Hanna were reduced to advisory positions, which would they keep for the rest of their lives. Barbera periodically worked on new Hanna-Barbera shows, and even provided input for the original live-action adaptation of Scooby-Doo in 2002.

In 2001, Hanna-Barbera Productions was absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation. Barbera received executive producer credits for Warner Bros. sequels and adaptations of his old series (such as "What's New, Scooby-Doo?" and "Tom and Jerry Tales"). In 2005, Barbera co-directed a new Tom and Jerry short film: "The Karate Guard". Barbera then started work on a Tom and Jerry feature film, " Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale" (2007). He died before production was completed.

Barbera died in December 2006, at the age of 95. He had never fully retired and was still working at the time of his death. His legacy includes more than a 100 television series, and a large number of enduring characters.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I

Spouse (2)

Sheila Holden (25 September 1964 - 18 December 2006) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Dorothy Earl (? - 1964) ( divorced) ( 3 children)

Trivia (10)

Longtime partner of William Hanna.
Inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1994 with his creative partner William Hanna.
Autobiography: "My Life In Toons" (1994).
Father of children Jayne, Neal, and Lynn, from his first marriage.
With partner William Hanna, left MGM in 1957 to start Hanna-Barbera Studios.
Born on the East Coast, he started his career in animation at the Van Beuren studios. When Van Beuren closed, he was able to go to Rochester and get a job with Paul Terry ("Terrytoons"). He moved to the west coast when MGM offered him a job with a substantial raise in pay.
He created Tom and Jerry, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones and also worked on The Smurfs.
In 1957, Hanna-Barbera formed their own production company and sold their first new cartoon, "Rough and Ready", to television.
Before becoming an animator, he worked in banking and as a magazine illustrator. He also tried his hand at amateur boxing and playwriting. He sold a sketch to Collier's magazine who then encouraged him to become a cartoon artist. Barbera began his career on the East Coast but eventually ended up in California at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's animation unit, where he met Hanna.
He died at his home in Studio City, Los Angeles with his wife, Sheila, by his side.

Personal Quotes (40)

[on the advantages of syndication vs. network programming] These days even Charles Chaplin couldn't get his material past a network.
Animation is a relief from what's going on in the world. You get up in the morning and turn on the radio and you hear a bridge goes out in Albany, a bomb has exploded here and there's a flood on the East Coast. Then you turn on the TV and see it all visualized. In living color, no less. Where's the relief? That's what we do: Provide relief in fantasy product. It's important to make people forget what's really happening.
I cannot say who, precisely, came up with the idea of a Stone Age family.
I hope we don't get to the point where we have to have the cat stop chasing the mouse to teach him glassblowing and basket weaving.
My marriage had been impulsive. That marriage should have been short-lived instead of the 23 years it spanned.
What about Mickey Mouse? Disney tried very hard to make him a star. But Mickey Mouse is more of a symbol than a real character.
Publicity gets more than a little tiring. You want it, you need it, you crave it, and you're scared as hell when it stops.
After I had done a handful of cartoons I was satisfied with, I started submitting them to the magazines.
High-level, big-deal publicity has a way of getting old for me, but what never fails to thrill me is when I make personal appearances.
My last days at MGM were like the fall of the Roman Empire in fast motion.
That's what keeps me going: dreaming, inventing, then hoping and dreaming some more in order to keep dreaming.
Making cartoons means very hard work at every step of the way, but creating a successful cartoon character is the hardest work of all.
Los Angeles was an impression of failure, of disappointment, of despair, and of oddly makeshift lives. This is California? I thought.
My biggest kick comes from the individual fans I run into. Middle-aged men ask me when we're going to do more Johnny Quest cartoons.
Friends don't necessarily made good business or creative partners.
I was 82 years old before Who's Who thought I was enough of a big shot to do a piece on me.
I hate fishing, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to hike when you can get in the car and drive.
In those days, boxing was very glamorous and romantic. You listened to fights on the radio, and a good announcer made it seem like a contest between gladiators.
While I have never been a regular churchgoer, I'm anything but immune to the power and the majesty of the religious experience.
Bill Hanna and I owe an awful lot to television, but we both got our start and built the first phase of our partnership in the movies.
Despite the rejection, and in violation of all the rules, I came back year after year.
Faced with the choice of enduring a bad toothache or going to the dentist, we generally tried to ride out the bad tooth.
I don't know that I spent any more time alone than any other kid, but being by myself never bothered me.
I learned long ago to accept the fact that not everything I create will see the light of day.
When animators weren't sleeping, they were drinking.
Among the great glories of the MGM lot were the vast outdoor sets that had been constructed over the years.
Except for me, no one in my family could draw.
I don't know anyone who enjoys going to the hospital. To help remedy this, I got an idea to create what a Laugh Room in the pediatric ward of hospitals.
Ted Turner sailed into the meeting, and I mean sailed. He holds himself as if he were at the helm of his sailboat, in the process of winning the race.
There is no law that says a man who earned a hundred million dollars in his first half-dozen years on the job has to be a decent human being, but Mike Eisner is that and more.
I never got tired of Tom and Jerry, but I did have a dream of doing more with my life than making cartoons.
I was convinced there as only one actor to play Templeton the Rat, and that was Tony Randall.
What the real world of 1941 needed most was the release and relief provided by laughter.
Creating fantasy is a very personal thing, but you can't take the process too personally.
I first pitched the idea of doing a series of cartoons based on Bible stories. They didn't much like it.
You keep pitching. Most of the pitches run wild. A few are caught.
Not once in six years did I make it to the office by 9 on the dot.
I have spent a lot of years on the outside looking in.
One of the most attractive things about writing your autobiography is that you're not dead.
Parents look at me like I'm somebody pretty important, and say, We were raised on your characters, and now we're enjoying them all over again with our children.

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