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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 23:52 GMT
Obituary: Joseph Barbera
Joseph Barbera close-up
Barbera started out with Tom and Jerry
According to his long-time partner, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera had the "ability to capture mood and expression in a quick sketch better than anyone I've ever known".

Tom and Jerry, the Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Mutley were but a few of the characters he created.

While Hanna took care of the technical side, it was Barbera who did the sketching.

His love of drawing began at his Catholic elementary school in New York from which his mother withdrew him because he spent more time drawing pictures of Jesus than studying him.

Despite his ambitions as an artist, he was persuaded to pursue a "proper" job. At the age of 16, Barbera put his drawing to one side and took a job as a bank clerk.

Yet his sketching had become an addiction. In his spare time, he continued to draw, earning extra money submitting cartoons to Collier's magazine.

After losing his job in the Depression, in 1937 he joined the newly-formed cartoon department of MGM with which he was to make his name.

Fred Flintstone
From the town of Bedrock, Fred Flintstone
Almost immediately, he met William Hanna. The two gelled instantly. It's said that they hardly exchanged a cross word in more than 60 years of working together.

Success was not long in coming. 1940 saw the release of their first film, a cat and mouse caper entitled Puss Gets the Boot. Audiences and critics loved it, ensuring that this character combination would not be a one-off.

The characters evolved into Tom and Jerry, and their appeal has never dated.

By 1957, the cost of producing these cartoons had spiralled out of control and the studio was closed.

'Yabba dabba doo!'

The pair formed a new production studio, this time using less detail and movement, more stock footage, and fewer drawings.

While this style of cartoon production was criticised by animation-purists, Hanna-Barbera enjoyed almost instant success, making their fortune with the adult-friendly cartoon The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958.

In 1960, a second mildly satirical series, The Flintstones, became the first cartoon to occupy a prime-time slot on American television. Prefiguring The Simpsons, it consistently ranked within the top 20 shows.

Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry were his favourite characters
In 1962, they capitalised on the "yabba dabba doo" factor with the release of The Jetsons, a space-age version of The Flintstones. However, it was the combination of four school children and their canine companion in the series, Scooby-Doo, that proved to be the duo's final enduring success.

In 1966, at the peak of the studio's popularity, with Hanna-Barbera cartoons attracting global audiences of more than 300 million, the two men sold their company to Taft Productions for a then staggering $25 million.

Rest in peace Joseph
Ali Zaid, Sana'a, Yemen

Despite this, Barbera remained active in the entertainment industry well into the 1990s. As recently as 1993, Barbera made his acting debut in the live action Flintstones feature film and a year later published his autobiography, My Life in Toons (Turner Publishing, 1994).

Joseph Barbera and William Hanna, who died in 2001, received no fewer than eight Emmys. The pair are remembered both on the Hollywood Walk and in the Television Academy Halls of Fame.

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