Joseph Roland “Joe” Barbera was an Italian-American animator, director, producer, storyboard artist, and cartoon artist, whose film and television cartoon characters entertained millions of fans worldwide for much of the 20th century.
Through his young adult years, Barbera lived, attended college, and began his career in New York City. After working odd jobs and as a banker, Barbera joined Van Beuren Studios in 1932 and subsequently Terrytoons in 1936. In 1937, he moved to California and while working at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Barbera met William Hanna. The two men began a collaboration that was at first best known for producing Tom and Jerry and live action/animated hybrid films. In 1957, after MGM dissolved their animation department, they co-founded Hanna-Barbera, which became the most successful television animation studio in the business, producing programs such as The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Top Cat, The Smurfs, Huckleberry Hound and The Jetsons. In 1967, Hanna-Barbera was sold to Taft Broadcasting for $12 million, but Hanna and Barbera remained head of the company until 1991. At that time, the studio was sold to Turner Broadcasting System, which in turn was merged with Time Warner, owners of Warner Bros., in 1996; Hanna and Barbera stayed on as advisors.
Hanna and Barbera won seven Academy Awards and eight Emmy Awards. Their cartoon shows have become cultural icons, and their cartoon characters have appeared in other media such as films, books, and toys. Hanna-Barbera’s shows had a worldwide audience of over 300 million people in the 1960s and have been translated into more than 20 languages.