Full Name:

Irv (also credited as Irvin or Irven) Spence

Occupation / Title:


Date of birth:


Date of death:



United States


Irv Spence was an American animator, sometimes credited as Irven or even Irvin Spence. Spence was best known for his work on MGM’s famous Tom and Jerry, cat and mouse series, but got his start in this month’s featured cartoon working for Ub Iwerks in Flip the Frog.

Family and early life

The fifth of seven children, Irven Spence was born to an American father and a Swedish mother. Spence had a love for drawing and illustration at a young age, and in fact went to the same high school as William Hanna, Compton high-school, both working at the same newspaper. 

Career outline

After getting his start working for Mintz’s Wrinkler Pictures, Spence worked for the now-famed animator Ub Iwerks for his series Flip The Frog. Ub Iwerks recruited many animators from the East Coast, including Spence, and brought them down to Los Angeles. In 1936, Spence worked for Leon Schlesinger Productions under the leadership of Tex Avery, and later followed Avery to MGM.

At MGM, Spence first started out working on the new series Captain and the Kids with Harman-Ising and Freleng, but eventually moved under the unit of Hanna-Barbera to work on their new series, earning his first Academy Award nomination for the Tom and Jerry short The Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943). Spence helped create the memorable cat and mouse duo, and he would stay at MGM studios for many years, eventually going along with Hanna-Barbera when the duo opened up their own animation company. In the ’70s, Spence would greatly contribute to the development of various Hanna-Barbera characters, including that of The Jetsons, The Flintstones and Yogi Bear. 

Personal style

Known for his wild off-model style and exaggerated drawings, Spence liked to animate large eyes and expressive mouths that were full of life. He developed Egghead – who would be a pre-prototype Elmer Fudd and his first credit with Tex Avery was on the short Egghead Rides Again. 

At MGM, Spence has been described as being a prankster as a rivalry developed between him and Harvey Eisenberg, and shenanigans occurred.


“Irven Spence.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Feb. 2014. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irven_Spence>.

“Likely Looney, Mostly Merrie.” : I’m Just “Wild” About Irven…. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. <http://likelylooneymostlymerrie.blogspot.ca/2012/04/im-just-wild-about-irven.html>.

“AnimationResources.org – Serving the Online Animation Community.”AnimationResourcesorg Serving the Online Animation Community. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. <http://animationresources.org/?p=6082>.

Suggestions are not enabled for this post.