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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Joe Barbera Leaves Animation Legends

LOS ANGELES -- Joseph Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that produced such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, died Monday at 95, a Warner Bros. spokesman said.

Barbera's longtime collaborator, William Hanna, died in 2001.

The team first found success creating the highly successful Tom and Jerry cartoons. "When we started, people said, 'Cat and mouse? That's old stuff,'" Barbera recalled in a 1993 interview. "They said it had been done by everybody."

In the decades since, Hanna-Barbera entertained generations of children, filling movie and television screens with such characters as the Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Top Cat, Scooby-Doo, Johnny Quest, the Jetsons and Animal Follies.

"Joe's contributions to both the animation and television industries are without parallel -- he has been personally responsible for entertaining countless millions of viewers across the globe," friend, colleague and Warner animation president Sander Schwartz said.

Born March 24, 1911, in New York City to immigrant parents, Joseph Barbera displayed an early aptitude for drawing. Although he graduated from the American Institute of Banking, he intensely disliked his first job at the Irving Trust bank. While employed there, he took art and drawing classes and sold cartoons to Collier's magazine.

A screening of Walt Disney's 1929 "The Skeleton Dance" sparked his interest in animation. After working at the cartoon studios in New York, Barbera moved to Los Angeles in 1937 to join MGM's cartoon unit.

At MGM, Barbera met Hanna, a story man, and the two became friends. When MGM failed to establish a successful cartoon series, the two men decided to create a film of their own. The 1940 short, "Puss Gets the Boot," earned Hanna and Barbera their first Oscar nomination. The "Tom and Jerry" cartoons won seven Academy Awards, more than any other series with the same characters. Hanna-Barbera received eight Emmy Awards, including the Governors Award of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Jerry's dance with Gene Kelly in "Anchors Aweigh" has become a screen classic, and Fred Flintstone's "yabba dabba doo" and Yogi's "smarter than the average bear" became part of the language.

The creative duo's strengths melded perfectly, critic Leonard Maltin said. Barbera brought the comic gags and skilled drawing, and Hanna brought warmth and a keen sense of timing.

Hanna once said he was never a good artist but his partner could "capture mood and expression in a quick sketch better than anyone I've ever known."

(LAT, AP)