William Hanna

Dafato Team | Sep 20, 2022

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William Hanna (b. July 14, 1910, Melrose, New Mexico - d. March 22, 2001, Los Angeles, California) was an Irish-born American animator, screenwriter, and cartoon producer whose characters were watched by millions of fans around the world for much of the 20th century. As a child, his family moved often, but eventually settled in 1919 in Compton, California. There he became an Eagle Scout. He graduated from Compton High School in 1928 and briefly attended Compton City College, but dropped out when the Great Depression began.

After doing odd jobs in the early months of the Depression, Hanna took a job at the Harman and Ising animation studio in 1930. During the 1930s she honed her skills and made a name for herself working on cartoons such as Captain and the Children. In 1937, while working at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios, Hanna met Joseph Barbera, and the two began collaborating, their most famous project being Tom and Jerry. In 1957 they founded Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. which became one of the most successful cartoon studios, producing animated series such as The Flintstones, The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs, and Yogi Bear. In 1967 Hanna-Barbera was acquired by Taft Broadcasting for $12 million, but the two remained the heads of the company until 1991, when the studio was sold to Turner Broadcasting System, which in turn merged in 1996 with Time Warner, owners of Warner Bros. Hanna's first employer. Hanna and Barbera stayed on as advisers.

Hanna and Barbera have won seven Academy Awards and eight Emmy Awards. Their cartoons have become cultural icons, watched globally by over 300 million people and translated into over 20 languages. Characters from these productions have also been used commercially in areas such as film sales, books and toys.

William Hanna was born on July 14, 1910 in the American village of Melrose, New Mexico,:5 as the third child of William John and Avice Joyce (Denby) Hanna. He had six sisters, and although he was the only son, Hanna stated that there was never any gender warfare or rivalry in their home. Hanna described his family as "a lively Irish American family. "9 His father was the head of a railroad construction crew, but also worked on building water and sewer systems throughout the American West, which required the family to move often.:6 At age three he moved with his family to Baker City, Oregon, where his father was working on the construction of Balm Creek Dam. Here Hanna developed a passion for outdoor activities. In 1917 they moved to San Pedro, California after living for a time in Logan, Utah.:67 Over the next two years they moved several times before settling permanently in Watts, California in 1919.:10 Here, in 1922, Hanna joined the Boy Scouts.:11 She attended Compton High School from 1925 to 1928, where she played saxophone in a dance band. This passion for music also helped him in his career as an animator, when he helped write songs for cartoon films, for example the theme song for the Flinstone Family. Hanna became an Eagle Scout at a young age and remained active throughout his life. As an adult he became a Scoutmaster and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America in 1985. Although Hanna has received many awards for his scouting career, it was this award that made him proudest. His other hobbies included boating and playing in a barbershop quartet. He studied both journalism and structural engineering at Compton City College,:6 but dropped out because of the Great Depression. On August 7, 1936, he married Violet Blanch Wogatzke, with whom he had two children, and seven grandchildren. In 1996, with the help of Los Angeles writer Tom Ito, he published his autobiography (Joe Barbera had published it two years earlier).

In the film

After dropping out of college, Hanna worked briefly as a construction engineer, helping to build the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, for example.6 He was laid off during the Great Depression, but found another job at a car wash. The boyfriend of one of his sisters encouraged him to apply for a job at Pacific Art and Title, which produced film inserts, and he was accepted. While working there, it became apparent that he was a talented draftsman, and in 1930 he took a job at the Harman and Ising animation studios, which had created the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. Although untrained in the field, Hanna soon became head of the "Drawing and Color" department. There, in addition to drawing, she wrote lyrics and composed songs. In his early years at Harman and Ising, the studio partnered with Leon Schlesinger of Pacific Title and Art, which sold Harman-Ising-produced animated films through Warner Bros. When Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising decided to give up their collaboration with Schlesinger and began producing animated films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1933, Hanna was one of the employees who followed them. He signed on for a weekly salary of $175 plus other amenities,:53 and in 1934 bought land in the San Fernando Valley, land that included 5 acres (about 2 hectares) planted with walnuts. He traded it for a lot in Sherman Oaks when he realized it was too far from work:53 On this land he built a house on which he lived for over 50 years:54

He was given the opportunity to direct his first cartoon in 1936, entitled To Spring, part of the Happy Harmonies series produced by Harman-Ising. The following year, MGM decided to end their partnership with Harman-Ising and launch their own productions:68 Hanna was among the first people MGM hired for their new cartoon studio. From 1938-1939 he was the lead director of the Captain and the Children series, based on the eponymous comic strip (a variant of the Katzenjammer Kids series, the result of a 1914 lawsuit). The series was unsuccessful, even cancelled, and Hanna was demoted to writer. :68-69 His desk at MGM was opposite that of Joseph Barbera, who had previously worked for TerryToons, and the two quickly realized they could make a good team.:Preface By 1939 they had established a partnership that lasted for 50 years. Hanna and Barbera worked with cartoon director Tex Avery, who had created Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny for Warner Bros. and directed the animated Droopy movies at MGM.:18

In 1940, Hanna and Barbera collaborated to direct Puss is on the loose, which was later nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Despite its success, the studio wanted a more diverse portfolio of cartoons, so the pair's boss, Fred Quimby, was unwilling to continue producing more cat-and-mouse animations:75-76 Surprised by the success of Puss on the loose, the pair ignored Quimby's opposition:45 and continued to develop the characters, even though all the while Hanna wanted to return to Ising's studios, to whom she felt a deep loyalty. When Hanna and Barbera met with Quimby, the latter discovered that although Ising had claimed credit for producing the film Cat's Put Out, he had made no contribution to its creation. As a result, Quimby gave the two permission to pursue their cat and mouse idea, and the result was their most famous creation, Tom and Jerry.:78-79

With characters inspired, with slight differences, from those in Puss is on the loose, the series centers around Jerry, the annoying mouse who is always fighting with his feline friend Tom. In relation to the famous cartoon, Hanna said they chose the mouse and cat theme because, "We knew we would need two characters. We thought we needed conflict, chases and action. A cat chasing a mouse seemed like a good, simple idea." Characters thus modified first appeared in the 1941 short film Midnight Snack:46 and over the next 17 years, the two animators would devote themselves almost exclusively to Tom and Jerry, directing more than 114 short films that were based on action and less on dialogue. During World War II they produced cartoons for training soldiers:92-93 Despite its popularity, Tom and Jerry was often criticized as excessively violent,:134 but the series nevertheless won its first Academy Award for its 11th cartoon, The Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943) - a wartime adventure - and was nominated for the same awards 14 more times, winning seven of them. No cartoon based on the same characters has won more awards, nor have any other series with the same character. Tom and Jerry appeared in several of MGM's studio films with actors, such as Anchors Aweigh (1945) and Invitation to the Dance (1956) with Gene Kelly and Dangerous When Wet (1953) with Esther Williams.

Quimby picked up all the Oscars without inviting Hanna and Barbera on stage, and the cartoons were released with Quimby listed as sole producer, the same practice for which he himself had criticized Ising.:83-84 When Quimby retired in 1955, Hanna and Barbera were appointed to head MGM's cartoon division. As the studio's revenues began to decline due to competition from television, MGM realized that rerunning older cartoons was more profitable than producing new ones,:2-3, 109 so in 1957 the company ordered Hanna and Barbera's business manager to liquidate the cartoon division and fire the employees by telephone.:2-3, 109 Hanna and Barbera did not understand the decision, especially since the series had been so successful.


During his last year at MGM, Hanna became involved in television, forming the short-lived Shield Production company with his friend, animator Jay Ward, :27-29 creator of Rabbit Crusader. Their partnership soon ended, and in 1957 Hanna teamed up again with his former partner Joseph Barbera to produce cartoons for television and theaters. The two contributed different skills to the company, Barbera having a talent for writing gags and drawing while Hanna had a talent for constructing the narrative, finding the right moment to introduce an action and recruiting the best artists. Important business decisions were made by both partners, and the title of president rotated between them once a year. The precedence of Hanna's name in the company name was decided by a coin toss,:Preface the studio's original name was H-B Enterprises, later changed to Hanna-Barbera Productions.

The first series launched by the new company was The Ruff & Reddy Show, which depicts the friendship between a dog and a cat. Despite lukewarm reviews for their first theatrical film, Loopy De Loop, Hanna and Barbera released two successful television series, The Huckleberry Hound Show and The Yogi Bear Show. According to a 1960 survey, half of those who watched the show were adults. This prompted the company to create a new cartoon series, The Flintstones, a parody of The Honeymooners, which depicts the daily life of a Stone Age family surrounded by household appliances, talking animals and celebrity guests. Watched by adults and children alike, it became the first prime-time cartoon to become a huge hit and the longest-running (until the Simpsons broke the record in 1997). The phrase "yabba dabba doo", uttered by Fred Flinstone, became part of everyday English, and the show propelled the studio to the top of the TV cartoon field. Buoyed by the success of the series, the company created and produced the Jetson Family - a variant of the Flintsone Family - set in space in the future. Although both series reappeared on television screens in the 1970s and 1980s, the Flintstones were by far the most successful with audiences.

In the late 1960s, Hanna-Barbera Productions was the most successful cartoon studio. Over the years, the studio released more than 3000 half-hour episodes. Among the more than 100 cartoon series and specials it produced were Atom Ant, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy (a copy of MGM's Spike and Tyke series), Jonny Quest, Josie and the Kittens, Magilla Gorilla, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks, Quick Draw McGraw and Top Cat. Although Top Cat is based on the character of Sgt. Bilko played by Phil Silvers, it has been erroneously claimed that Sgt. Bilko served as the inspiration for Yogi Bear. The Hanna-Barbera studio also produced Scooby-Doo (1969-1986) and Smurfs (1981-1989), as well as animated films based on the stories Alice in Wonderland, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cyrano de Bergerac, and the feature film Miracle of Friendship (1973).:228-230

Despite the popularity of drawings in the 1960s, artists didn't like them. Television programmes had smaller budgets than film cartoons, and this economic reality led to the closure of many animation studios in the 1950s and 1960s, with many people in the industry losing their jobs. Hanna-Barbera played a crucial role in the development of limited animation,:54 which reduced the cost of producing television programs but sacrificed artistic quality. Hanna and Barbera had first experimented with these techniques in the early days of Tom and Jerry:74, 115 To reduce the cost of each episode, the emphasis was on dialogue between characters at the expense of detailed animation. and the number of hand-drawn drawings for an episode of about 7 minutes was reduced from 14,000 to nearly 2,000. In addition, the company implemented innovative techniques such as fast background changes to enhance viewing. Critics disliked the shift from rich and detailed animation to flat (insubstantial) characters with repetitive movements. In response, Barbera said they had to adjust to television budgets that had dropped from $35,000 for a seven-minute Tom and Jerry episode to $2,700 for one with Ruff and Reddy,:75:54However, the new style did not limit the success of the cartoons, allowing the two to continue working and providing jobs for people who would otherwise have been unemployed. Limited animation became the standard for television cartoons and continues to be used today in television programs like The Simpsons and South Park.

In 1966, Hanna-Barbera Productions was sold to Taft Broadcasting (renamed Great American Communications in 1987) for $12 million.:162, 235-236 Hanna and Barbera remained at the helm of the company until 1991,:151 when it was bought by Turner Broadcasting System for an estimated $320 million; the latter company in turn merged in 1996 with Time Warner, owner of Warner Bros. This marked the beginning of a close collaboration with Cartoon Network, with Hanna and Barbera continuing to advise their former company but also working in parallel on new cartoons, such as The Cartoon Cartoon Show series and the screenings of The Flintstone Family (1994) and Scooby-Doo (2002).

Hanna died of esophageal cancer on March 22, 2001 in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, and was buried in Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest, California. After his death, Cartoon Network aired a 20-second segment on television with black dots tracing Hanna's portrait and the following text: "We'll miss you - Cartoon Network".

Many of his cartoons had a theme of close friendship and partnership; this theme is evident in the characters Tom and Jerry, Yogy Bear and Boo Boo, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, Ruff and Reddy, the Jetson family, and the Scooby-Doo friends, and is probably a reflection of the close friendship and partnership between Hanna and Barbera that lasted for nearly 60 years:214 Although their professional qualities, weaknesses, and personalities were a perfect match, Hanna and Barbera belonged to completely different social circles. Hanna's circle of friends consisted mainly of other animators, while Barbera liked Hollywood society.:52-53 By sharing work duties they complemented each other, but they did not have many passions in common, since Hanna was interested in outdoor activities and Barbera liked beaches, good food and fine drinks.:120-121 However, during their partnership that produced over 2,000 animated characters, Hanna and Barbera rarely clashed. Barbera states, "We understood each other perfectly, and each had a deep respect for the other's work."

Hanna is considered to be one of the greatest animators of all time, on par with Tex Avery. Hanna and Barbera were among the first animators to realize the enormous potential of television and to adapt perfectly to the changes it brought to the industry. Leonard Maltin said the Hanna-Barbera team "holds the record for producing high-quality cartoons using the same characters year after year, with no breaks or changes in routine. Their characters are not only animated superstars, but a beloved part of American popular culture." The two are often considered Walt Disney's only rivals in the art of cartoon creation. Hanna and Barbera have had a lasting impact on television cartoons, with 16 of them often ranking among the best in the business. Many of the characters they created have appeared in films, books, games and other products, and their cartoons have been watched worldwide by more than 300 million people and have been translated into more than 20 languages. The films were not only praised for their animation, but also for their music, with The Cat Concerto (1946) and Johann Mouse (1952) both winning Academy Awards and being called "masterpieces of animation" - largely due to the classical music:133

In total, the Hanna-Barbera couple won seven Academy Awards and eight Emmy Awards, with:32 The Huckleberry Hound Show receiving the first Emmy for an animated series in 1960. They have also received the Golden Globe Award for Achievement in Television (1960), the Golden IKE Award - Pioneers of Broadcasting -, the Iris-NATPE Award - People of the Year (1988) -, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Governors Award (1988), the Jackie Coogan Award for Outstanding Contributions to Young People through Entertainment in Film (1988), the Frederic W. Ziv Award for Distinguished Achievement in Telecommunications and Broadcasting - of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (1989) -, star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1976), several Annie Awards:170 and numerous other honors leading to their induction into the Television Hall of Fame in 1994. In March 2005, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Animation, dedicated a bronze bas-relief to them at the Television Academy's Hall of Fame Plaza in North Hollywood.


  1. William Hanna
  2. William Hanna
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hanna, William (Bill), Who's Who in Animated Cartoon (2006 Applause Theatre & Cinema Books ed.)[*][[Who's Who in Animated Cartoon (2006 Applause Theatre & Cinema Books ed.) (2006 edition of the encyclopedia by Jeff Lenburg)|​]]
  4. ^ a b c Hogan, Sean (23 martie 2001). „William Hanna”. The Irish Times. p. 16. Arhivat din original la 6 decembrie 2012. Accesat în 17 august 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing. ISBN 1-57036-042-1. .
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Hanna, William; Tom Ito (2000). A Cast of Friends. Emeryville, California: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80917-6.
  7. ^ a b c d e Gifford, Denis (March 24, 2001). "William Hanna: Master animator whose cartoon creations included Tom and Jerry and the Flintstones". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing. ISBN 1-57036-042-1. Archived from the original on December 15, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Erickson, Hal. "William Hanna—Biography". allmovie. Archived from the original on April 26, 2006. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d "Hanna Obit". City News Service—Los Angeles. March 22, 2001. There are also reports that Hanna attended UCLA but this is unconfirmed.
  11. a b c d e f g h i Vallance, Tom (24 de marzo de 2001). «William Hanna». The Independent (en inglés). UK. Archivado desde el original el 17 de julio de 2010. Consultado el 21 de julio de 2012.
  12. a b c Barbera, 1994, pp. 68-69
  13. a b c d e f Moore, Ron (24 de marzo de 2001). «Toons King Dies; Hanna's Magic Touch Brought Us Fred, Yogi, and Scooby-Doo» (en inglés). Daily Record.
  14. a b c d Kerr, Alison (24 de marzo de 2001). «William Hanna; Cartoon scriptwriter with a natural gift for gags and comic timing» (en inglés). The Herald (Glasgow). p. 16.
  15. a b c d e f g h et i (en) Barbera, Joseph, My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century, Atlanta, GA, Turner Publishing, 1994 (ISBN 1-57036-042-1).
  16. a b c et d (en) « Hanna Obit », City News Service—Los Angeles,‎ 2001.
  17. a et b (en) Richard Natale, « Toon titan Hanna dies at 90 », Daily Variety,‎ 2001
  18. (en) « William Hanna », The Times, UK,‎ 2001

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