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'Yogi Bear' Creator Joe Barbera


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'Yogi Bear' Creator Joe Barbera

by Sue Manning

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Animator Joe Barbera

LOS ANGELES, California -- Joe Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that produced such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, died Monday, December 18 of natural causes at his home with his wife, Sheila, at his side, Warner Bros. spokesman Gary Miereanu said. He was 95.

With his longtime partner, Bill Hanna, Barbera first found success creating the highly successful "Tom and Jerry" cartoons. The antics of the battling cat and mouse went on to win seven Academy Awards, more than any other series with the same characters.

The partners, who teamed up while working at MGM in the 1930s, then went on to a whole new realm of success in the 1960s with a witty series of animated TV comedies, including "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons," "Yogi Bear," "Scooby-Doo" and "Huckleberry Hound and Friends."

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Animators Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna

In his book "Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons," critic Leonard Maltin wrote, "Their strengths melded perfectly. Barbera brought the comic gags and skilled drawing, while Hanna brought warmth and a keen sense of timing."

"This writing-directing team may hold a record for producing consistently superior cartoons using the same characters year after year," Maltin continued to write in his book. "And, they did it without a break or change in routine."

"From the Stone Age to the Space Age and from primetime to Saturday mornings, syndication and cable, the characters he created with his late partner, William Hanna, are not only animated superstars, but also a very beloved part of American pop culture," said Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer.

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Animators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera

In his statement, Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer continued, "While he will be missed by his family and friends, Joe will live on through his work." The statement could have proved wrong since neither Bill Hanna nor Joe Barbera set out to be cartoonists.

Hanna, who died in 2001, once said he was never a good artist but his partner could "capture mood and expression in a quick sketch better than anyone I've ever known." The two first teamed cat and mouse in the short "Puss Gets the Boot." It earned an Academy Award nomination. for the two animators.

Following that success, MGM let the pair keep experimenting until the full-fledged Tom and Jerry characters eventually were born. Jerry was even borrowed for the mostly live-action musical "Anchors Aweigh," dancing with Gene Kelly in a scene that become a screen classic.

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Joe Barbera

After MGM folded its animation department in the mid-1950s, Hanna and Barbera were forced to go into business for themselves. With television's sharply lower budgets, their new cartoons put more stress on verbal wit rather than the detailed

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