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Tom & Jerry, Yogi Bear (Orso Yogi), The Flintstones (Gli Antenati), The Huckleberry Hound Show (Braccobaldo Show), Top Cat, Scooby-Doo, The Quick Draw McGraw Show (Ernesto Sparalesto), The Smurfs (I Puffi), Wacky Races (Le corse pazze), Hair Bear (Napo Orso Capo), Magilla Gorilla, Motormouse and Autocat (Mototopo e Autogatto), The Jetsons (I Pronipoti) and many more cartoons have one person in common: Joe Barbera.

Joseph Roland "Joe" Barbera was born on March 24, 1911 at 10 Delancey Street in the Little Italy section of Manhattan, New York. His father, Vincent Barbera, and his mother, Francesca Calvacca, were born in Sciacca, in the province of Agrigento, Sicily.

The Barbera family moved to Flatbush, Brooklyn, when Joe was four months old. Vincent and Francesca had two more sons, Larry and Ted, and the future looked good for the young family because Vincent was a good barber and he owned three barbershops. But Vincent was also a serious gambler and he ended up depleting the family fortunes. He abandoned them when Joe was 15.

Young Joe displayed a talent for drawing and boxing. At Holy Innocents, a Catholic elementary school, he was given the task of drawing Christ's entry into Jerusalem on the class blackboard in colored chalks. While he attended Erasmus Hall High School, in Brooklyn, he became editor of the school newspaper, The Dutchman, filling it with joke cartoons. He also won several boxing titles, but he soon lost interest in the sport: he wanted to be a cartoonist. Unfortunately, it was during the Great Depression, so, at 17, he worked at the Irving Trust Bank on Wall Street during the day, deep in the basement, and continued to draw and pursue publication for his cartoons during lunch-breaks and after his shifts. Two years later his drawings finally began to be published in Redbook, Saturday Evening Post, and Collier's.

Joe took art classes at the Art Students League of New York and the Pratt Institute to sharpen up his talent. When he was 21, he joined the Van Beuren Studios as an animator and storyboard artist. When Van Beuren closed down four years later, Joe moved over to Paul Terry's Terrytoons Studio.

In 1937 he was offered a better paid job at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) cartoon unit in California, a great opportunity. By that time he had a wife, Dorothy Earl, his high school sweetheart, and a young child. He left New York to follow his dream. At MGM he met Bill Hanna and other distinguished artists like animator Tex Avery, who had created Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny for Warner Bros. and directed Droopy cartoons. Joe and Bill knew they would make a great team: Joe was a skilled gag writer and sketch artist, while Bill had a gift for story construction.

In 1940, they directed Puss Gets the Boot, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best (Cartoon) Short Subject. The cat-and-mouse theme worked and Tom and Jerry was born. Over the next 17 years, Joe and Bill worked exclusively on Tom and Jerry, directing more than 114 cartoon shorts. The series won its first Academy Award for the 11th short, The Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943)—a war-time adventure, and it was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, winning 7.

In 1957, Joe and Bill decided to produce cartoon films to release on television and movie theaters. The first was The Ruff & Reddy Show, followed by Loopy De Loop, Huckleberry Hound Show, The Yogi Bear Show, and The Flintstones. By the late 1960s, Hanna-Barbera Productions was the most successful television animation studio in the business.

Joe died at the age of 95 at his home in Studio City, Los Angeles, on December 18, 2006, ending a seventy-year career in animation. His second wife, Sheila Holden, was at his side.







English: Meeting Joseph Barbera 1993
Date 28 June 2008
Author Kerry Cisneroz