Massachusetts’ Norman Rockwell Museum To Present “Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning” – Animation Scoop

Massachusetts’ Norman Rockwell Museum To Present “Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning”

Before the rise of basic cable, Saturday mornings for many children in America were spent watching cartoons on one of three available television channels. From 1958 through the 1980s, a majority of those cartoons bore the imprint of Hanna-Barbera. Creating scores of popular series such as The Yogi Bear Show, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, and Scooby-Doo, Hanna-Barbera was an animation powerhouse and its bountiful creativity is beloved to this day. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass, will pay tribute to the art of the award-winning studio with the new exhibition Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning, on view November 12th, 2016 through May 29th, 2017.

“We are thrilled to present the first museum exhibition on the work of Hanna-Barbera,” notes Jesse Kowalski, the Museum’s Curator of Exhibitions. “This show will provide a comprehensive look into the animation team that collaborated for more than 60 years. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with a group of the most gifted animators and writers in the business, created thousands of memorable characters over the years. They brought animation from the movie theater into the home, forever changing the landscape of American television and popular culture.”

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“This exhibition continues our look at visual storytelling in its many forms,” adds Museum Chief Curator Stephanie Haboush Plunkett. “Illustration and cartoons are the people’s art, and we look forward to further exploring their creatively-rich history.”

Jayne Barbera, daughter of Joseph Barbera and long-time producer at Hanna-Barbera, notes, “I worked for Hanna-Barbera Productions for thirty years alongside these two gentlemen. To be in a room with both of them at the same time was to experience an extraordinary genius. We were able to create happiness, adventure, and joy in the process of entertaining children.”

Hanna Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning will focus primarily on the golden years of the studio—from the premiere of their first cartoon, The Ruff and Reddy Show, in 1957 and The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958 to the debut of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969. Hanna and Barbera’s early work on Tom and Jerry will be explored, in addition to the scores of TV and film animation and live-action projects created by the studio between 1970 and 2001. Included within the exhibition will be original animation art, sketches, model sheets, photographs, and archival materials that detail the process of bringing the studio’s creations to life.

Also included in the exhibition, Hanna-Barbera-related toys and other commercial products, and an interactive installation that will draw from the vast library of sound effects created by the studio. An exhibition video, produced by Norman Rockwell Museum, will include commentary from original Hanna-Barbera animators Tony Benedict, Jerry Eisenberg, Willie Ito, and Bob Singer. An exhibition catalogue will include a foreword by Jayne Barbera, daughter of studio founder Joe Barbera, and essays by animation historians Jerry Beck and Michael Mallory.

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Hanna Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning was developed in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and has been sponsored, in part, by Keator Group, LLC.

For more information relating to this exhibition, please check the Museum’s website.

Jerry Beck

Jerry Beck

Writer, cartoon producer and author of more than 15 books on animation history. A former studio exec with Nickelodeon and Disney; currently on the faculty at both CalArts in Valencia and Woodbury University in Burbank.
Jerry Beck
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  • I kind of wish they would explore the early days of Cartoon Network (Which began their second renaissance).

  • Jesse Kowalski

    There will be artwork on display through Powerpuff Girls, and the catalogue will address the complete history of Hanna-Barbera up to Hanna’s death in 2001.

  • Ray Pointer

    To be specific, Hanna-Barbera became the leading force in Saturday Morning programming following their lost position in Prime Time television in 1965. Since then they became a supplier for all three networks of new and rerun programming that current generations are familiar with. This is the basis of the impression of this theme, The Architects of Saturday Morning Television.

    Hanna-Barbera’s first show in 1957, “The Ruff N’ Reddy Show” did run on the NBC Saturday schedule at 10:30 a.m., starting this cycle. But the following year, a syndication deal through the Leo Burnett Agency, representatives of Kellogg’s started them on their biggest path of success starting with THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW (1958) and QUICK DRAW MCGRAW (1959), followed by THE YOGI BEAR SHOW (1961), These were bicycled to local television stations, shown in the early evening hours, usually 6-7 p.m. in various markets. And it was in the year 1959 that what began as H-B Enterprises, that Hanna-Barbera Productions was formed.

    The following year, H-B expanded into Prime Time on ABC with THE FLINTSTONES, and continued to develop half hour Prime Time programs including TOP CAT, THE JETSONS, and JONNY QUEST until the 1964-1965 season. Once THE FLINTSTONES ended its Prime Time run in 1966, the studio became the “King of Saturday Morning” cartoon due to the tremendous momentum already established.

    But like anything that reaches excess, something had to suffer, and this was the quality of the product in terms of writing and animation even for the Limited Animation techniques that put them on the map. Regardless, it is undeniable that the Hanna-Barbera legacy has been a major element in the history of television as well as American culture with characters as beloved as any that came from the Disney Studio.