Joseph Barbera

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Joseph Barberra

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Most people know him from the famous Hanna-Barbera studios cartoons, such as The Flintstones, The Smurfs, and Scooby-Doo, but there was much more to the man’s career.

Family and early life

Joseph Barbera was born in the Little Italy section of Manhattan, to Sicilian parents. (Wikipedia) He had a knack for drawing but wanted to be a banker. He went to New York University and the American Institute of Banking where he majored in accounting. He worked at the Irving Trust Company upon graduating. He continued to draw in his spare time and tried to sell them to publishers. Eventually Collier bought a cartoon from him and he left his career as banker behind him.

Career outline

Published in Collier’s magazine in 1928, and off-and-on while working for the Bankers’ Trust Company in New York. In 1932, he joined Van Beuren Studio in New York, remaining until it closed in 1937. For a short while afterward, he worked for the Terrytoons (Paul Terry) studio before moving out west that summer because of a tempting salary increase.

He would eventually settle in Hollywood and establish partnership with Bill Hanna, as part of the animation department at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Hanna and Barbera would create Tom and Jerry, producing a number of shorts under the direction of Fred Quimby until his retirement in 1956, at which time Hanna and Barbera became joint directors. That lasted less than a year, however; in the summer of 1957, MGM closed its animation department, and soon afterward, both would establish Hanna-Barbera Productions, in time becoming the leading studio for TV animation. 

In 1967, Barbera and Hanna sold their studio to Taft Broadasting.  In 1994, he published his memoir, “My Life in Toons: From Flatbush to Hollywood in Less than a Century” (Turner Books/Andrews & MacNeel).

Honors and awards

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1977  Hanna and Barbera’s 17-year partnership on the Tom & Jerry series resulted in 7 Academy Awards for Best (Cartoon) Short Subject, and 14 total nominations, more than any other character-based theatrical animated series. In 1977, Barbera was honored with a bronze star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 




  • Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2006.

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