William Denby “Bill” Hanna was an American animator, cartoonist, director, producer and voice actor. He was one of the finest 20th-century entertainers whose works such as Tom and Jerry,
and Scooby-Doo touched millions of hearts around the globe. William Hanna was born in Melrose New Mexico, U.S. on 14th July, 1910. His father, William John was a construction superintendent while his mother, Avice Joyce (Denby) Hanna was a homemaker. They were seven siblings in all of whom he was the third child, and he was a cancer zodiac sign. Due to his father’s profession, the family had to move frequently before settling in Watts, California in 1919. Here, Hanna joined scouting and became an Eagle Scout. He continued to remain active in scouting throughout his life. Hanna studied at Compton High School (1925-1928).
Here he found his passion for music which helped him in the future to write songs for his cartoons like The Flintstones theme song. He joined Compton City College and studied journalism and structural engineering. Hanna got married to Violet Blanch Wogatzke on August 7, 1936. They had two children, a boy David William and a girl, Bonnie Jean. Amidst the Great Depression, Hanna had to leave college and started working with his father to build the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. After working at a car wash, he joined the Pacific Title and Art. Working here helped Hanna to enhance his drawing skills. As a result, he joined the Harman and Ising studio in 1930. This studio produced prominent cartoons like the Looney Toons and
. Harman and Ising started producing cartoons for MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) in 1933.
Hanna got his first chance to direct an animated story called ‘To Spring’. Soon in 1937, MGM decided to start production of cartoons, independently and Hanna was one of the first people who got hired. He worked for different cartoons like Captain and the Kids and Katzenjammer Kids. Hanna met who worked with Terrytoons before. Hanna and Barbera directed Puss Gets the Boot together which got nominated in Academy Awards. Ignoring the disagreement of supervisor Fred Quimby to produce more cat and mouse cartoons, Hanna and Barbera continued to work and created the famous cartoon show called Tom and Jerry. Tom and Jerry first aired in 1941 and got nominated for 14 Academy Awards winning seven awards. Following the huge success of Tom and Jerry, Hanna and Barbera directed 114 different cartoons.
In 1957, Hanna and Barbera co-established Hanna-Barbera Productions,formerly known as H-B Enterprises. It was a result of MGM closing down the animation division. With both their skills complementing perfectly, they created short-lived The Ruff and Reddy Show and the Loopy De Loop. But the first big success of the company was The Huckleberry Hound Show and The Yogi Bear. The company then created The Flintstones which was a huge success with Fred Flintstone’s signature dialogue “yabba dabba doo” being frequently used by the audience. Hanna-Barbera Productions went on to become a huge success. In the 1960s, the company produced various cartoon shows and series like The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs,
, Quick Draw McGraw, Jonny Quest, Magilla Gorilla, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks, and many more.
Due to the high cost of television animation, many animation studios were shut down during the 1950s and 1960s. Hanna and Barbera came up with an economic alternative of limited animation which stressed less on animation and more on dialogue. Although this technique got cold response, it did not affect the success of the shows produced by the company. Taft Broadcasting, now: Great American Communications bought Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1966. However, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera remained the head of the company till 1991. After that Hanna and Barbera stayed the advisors of the venture. After living for 90 years, William Hanna died due to throat cancer in North Hollywood, Los Angeles California on March 22, 2001. He rests at the Ascension Cemetery located in Lake Forest, California. Cartoon Network aired a 20-second animation tracing William Hanna’s portrait accompanied with the words- “We’ll miss you-Cartoon Network” in his tribute. William Hanna lives on with his cartoons, unquestionably entertaining us and the future generations for time immemorial.