Flintstones co-creator dead at 95

Born into a Catholic family in New York's Little Italy in 1911, Joe Barbera, who co-founded the Academy Award-winning Hanna-Barbera cartoon powerhouse, has died at his Studio City, California home.

The BBC reports Joe Barbera, who made up one half of the team behind such cartoon classics as The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo and Huckleberry Hound, died yesterday of natural causes at home with his wife, Sheila, at his side.

With William Hanna, Barbera founded Hanna-Barbera in the 1950s, after the pair had earlier worked on the Tom and Jerry cartoons at MGM studios.

"Joe will live on through his work," said Warner Brothers chairman and chief executive Barry Meyer.

"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," Mr Meyer said.

Barbera first met Hanna at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio, where they collaborated on a 1937 cartoon called Puss Gets the Boot, precursor of the cat-and-mouse duo Tom and Jerry which went on to win seven Academy Awards and 14 nominations over 17 years.

The pair left MGM and formed Hanna-Barbera Studios in 1957, where they created numerous classic characters, including The Jetsons and The Flintstones, producing 300 cartoon series, with more than 3,000 half-hour shows.

"In the first grade, I was enrolled at a Catholic school called Holy Innocents. It did not take long for the nuns there to discover that I could draw," Mr Barbera later said.

"One nun, Sister Mary Nicholas, she would belt you on the back of the head," Mr Barbera said - and she may even have inspired the whacks and biffs of Tom and Jerry, some observers believe.

However, Mr Barbera originally wanted to make cartoons with religious themes.

"I first pitched the idea of doing a series of cartoons based on Bible stories. They didn't much like it," Mr Barbera, who eventually won a 1989 Personal Achievement award from the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts, once said.

"While I have never been a regular churchgoer, I'm anything but immune to the power and the majesty of the religious experience," he said.

In pride of place in his office he kept a framed photograph of himself meeting Pope John Paul II.

"He was asking me if he could become a director," Mr Barbera quipped to a Guardian reporter. "He was a Hollywood fan, I can tell you that."

Cartoon legend Barbera dies at 95 (BBC News, 19/12/06)
Creator of Tom and Jerry dies at 95 (The Age, 20/12/06)
Top cat (The Guardian, 27/12/00)
Joe Barbera (Brainy Quote)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Joseph Barbera (Wikipedia)
Hanna-Barbera (Wikipedia)
Hanna Barbera's golden age of animation (BBC News, 19/12/06)

20 Dec 2006