Hanna-Barbera was an American animated cartoon production company that produced animated television programming and motion pictures for forty-five years between 1957 and 2001. Hanna-Barbera was founded in 1944 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera as H-B Enterprises, through which the pair used to do freelance television commercial production. After MGM shut down its animation studio in 1957, H-B Enterprises became Hanna and Barbera's full-time job, and the company became Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1960. For three decades, Hanna-Barbera produced many successful cartoon series, including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Yogi Bear Show, Jonny Quest, Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo, and Smurfs.
In 1991, the company was purchased by Turner Broadcasting, primarily so that Turner could use its 300-plus cartoon series library as the basis of the programming for its new Cartoon Network cable television channel.
During the late 1990s, Turner turned Hanna-Barbera towards primarily producing new material for the Cartoon Network. In 1996, Turner was bought out by Time Warner. With William Hanna's death in 2001, Hanna-Barbera was absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation, and Cartoon Network Studios assumed production of Cartoon Network output. Joseph Barbera remained with Warner Bros. Animation as a figurehead until his death in 2006.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera first teamed together while working at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studio in 1939. Their first directorial project was a cartoon entitled Puss Gets the Boot (1940), which served as the genesis of the popular Tom and Jerry cartoon series.
Hanna, Barbera, and MGM live-action director George Sidney formed H-B Enterprises in 1944 while continuing working for the studio, and used the side company to work on ancillary projects, including early television commercials and the original opening titles to I Love Lucy.
Hanna-Barbera was the first animation studio to successfully produce animated cartoons especially for television; until then, cartoons on television consisted primarily of rebroadcasts of theatrical cartoons. Other Hanna-Barbera works included a theatrical cartoon series, Loopy De Loop, for Columbia Pictures from 1959 to 1965; and the opening credits to the ABC/Screen Gems television show Bewitched. Later, H-B would use the Bewitched characters as guest stars on The Flintstones.
A man called Flintstone
The Flintstones in particular became a top-rated show. "The Blessed Event", the February 22, 1963 episode which depicted the birth of Pebbles Flintstone, was the highest-rated episode in the show's history, mirroring the I Love Lucy birth episode.
Hanna-Barbera introduced limited animation, popularized in theatrical animation by UPA, on the television series The Ruff & Reddy Show as a way of reducing costs. This led to a reduction in animation quality. The studio's solution to the resulting criticism was to go into features, producing both higher-quality versions of their TV cartoons (Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! in 1964, The Man Called Flintstone in 1966, and Jetsons: The Movie in 1990) and adaptations of other material (Charlotte's Web).
The first original Cartoon Network series to emerge from the World Premiere Toons project was Genndy Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory. Others programs followed, including Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and The Powerpuff Girls.. H-B also produced several new direct-to-video movies featuring Scooby-Doo as well as a new Jonny Quest series.
Around 1998, the Hanna-Barbera name began to disappear from the newer shows from the studio in favor of the Cartoon Network Studios name. This came in handy with shows that were produced outside of Hanna-Barbera, but that Cartoon Network had a hand in producing, like aka Cartoons' Ed, Edd, and Eddy, as well as the shows the studio continued to produce, like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and Samurai Jack.