May 8, 2017 posted by

Hanna Barbera 1960s Production Notes (Part 3)

Still more Hanna-Barbera material from the Hal Humphrey file at USC. First up, this press release announcing the prime time debut of Jonny Quest

Next up is this article from The Saturday Evening Post from December 1961. You can click the first two pages to enlarge the text, for better visibility. These contain an “alternative history” (as opposed to “alternative facts”) on the Flintstones story and other boo-boos of things we know better now… but entertaining and worth a read nonetheless. Enjoy!

It’s 1965, and this Press release gives a nice overview of Hanna Barbera Productions at the eight year mark. It’s the golden age of HB and things could not be better. The future looks bright.

A ten year overview from 1967. Prime time programming is over and Hanna Barbera have cashed it all in to become a dominant force on Saturday morning…

(Thanks to Ned Comstock at USC)


  • Thanks for posting this treasure-trove of information on the early years of Hanna-Barbera. What I most appreciate is how it evokes the excitement of that time period, when these shows, all old warhorses now, were brand new to the public. It was a real thrill in those days to turn on the TV for Jonny Quest, The Flintstones, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, and the other shows produced by this extremely prolific team. I don’t believe that they represented a decline in quality of animated cartoons–Hanna and Barbera were amazingly resourceful in adapting from the more elaborate style of the theatrical shorts to the more economical style required of television animation. With more emphasis on voices and verbal humor, the cartoons went from being slapstick to more thought-provoking. By having to limit their animation, Hanna and Barbera adapted by creating a brand of entertainment that could appeal to “adults of all ages.”

  • I was most intrigued by their purchase of five or six live action studios one as stated in one of the articles. Did they get full use out of them?

    “Jack and the Beanstalk” was a mixture of live action and animation — so that’s one production. Did H&B produce the live action portions for “The Banana Splits”? If so, that’s two productions. But I can’t imagine they really needed so many live action TV studios.

    • Unless I’m not reading the same sentence you read – I think it says “five or six live action series” – not “studios”.

      That leads to a question of what series are they referring to. I think they were putting money into development of such series – and perhaps none of them sold. Huckleberry Finn, perhaps? Maybe Yowp found a trade article that outlines what these plans were.

  • The only one of the five unsold live-action pilots (THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN was the only sale they made, and that’s probably because it was partly animated) currently listed on is “We’ll Take Manhattan,” which aired on NBC on April 30, 1967 (the networks used to play off their unbought pilots during the summer in those halcyon days). This sitcom involved a lawyer (Dwayne Hickman) who was hired by a 140-year-old native American (Allan Melvin) to regain the property his tribe sold to the U.S.–the island of Manhattan. Supporting cast included Ben Blue, Leslie Perkins and Walter Woolf King. It was written by Larry Markes and Michael Morris and directed by James Neilson. I vaguely recall some of the others airing (I noticed the Hanna-Barbera production credit and the Screen Gems logo), but I remember no details. But somewhere online, I also recall running across a list of them somewhere, perhaps in one of those books about unsold pilots that popped up a decade or two ago.

    One thing the Saturday Evening Post interview revealed was that Touche Turtle was definitely intended to be the eponymous star of the woud-be TOUCHE TURTLE SHOW, and that Wally and Lippy and Hardy were not. I know it aired in L.A. and Milwaukee under that title, though other parts of the country used one or the other segments as the title. Still seems like Touche was the obvious choice, but my opinion is clearly biased because that’s what I knew when I was a kid. (By the way, the 13-series total mentioned in the JONNY QUEST article counts Touche, Wally and Lippy as three separate series–which is fair, since they were exactly the same length as the RUFF & REDDY cartoons, and that counts as H-B’s first.)

    It’s hilarious to me that the Disney reaction to Hanna-Barbera’s series was that they were beneath their contempt. By the end of the decade, not only had Disney adapted some of the H-B production techniques for some of their TV animation, by all of the theatrical cartoons being issued by every other studio (WB, Paramount, Lantz, DePatie-Freleng) looked like nothing so much as H-B knockoffs, though not as well designed or funny.

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