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Friday, February 13, 2009

William Hanna

William Hanna
The Story of a Legend

You may not be aware of the first time that you encountered William Hanna or one
of his many cartoons. Chances are that it was a Saturday morning and you were
probably curled up on the couch with a big bowl of Trix. Or maybe it was a
Wednesday afternoon and you were sprawled on the floor, relaxing from a hard day
of school when The Flintstones, The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, The Shirt Tales, Scooby-Doo
or any number of other multicolored characters ran across your TV screen. You
may not have realized it at the time, but these cartoons, produced in part by
William Hanna, would come to represent not only a certain form of entertainment,
but they would also become markers of your youth. Such is the genius of William
Hanna, one of the few entertainers whose work is not only entertaining and
influential in it's
time, but also holds a timeless importance in influence and entertainment.

Hanna was born in Melrose,
New Mexico on July 10, 1910. His father was a construction engineer who moved
the family from job to job before finally settling them in Los Angeles in 1919.
Nearly immediately, William encountered one of his true loves: The Boy Scouts.
He joined the new organization quickly and remained an active participant in it
through his entire life. It was here where he also started down the path he was
born to take. While assisting his father with the construction of the Pantages
Theatre, he learned that Warner Brothers was going to be starting an animation
division. With strong natural talents and no formal training, he went looking
for work.

He landed himself a job
and rose quickly through the studio; he was soon putting in time as the head of
the Ink and Paint Department. Hanna continued to work and grow and in the
mid-1930's, he found himself in the position of director in the animation unit
at MGM (his directorial debut was 'To Spring' in 1936).

At this point, MGM had
been 'outsourcing' their animated films but in 1937, they decided to bring their
production directly under the MGM roof.

One of the first people
they hired was Bill Hanna who was given the position of Director of Animation.
He, of course, needed people to direct, so MGM went looking for animators. It is
here where Joe Barbera steps into the picture. Barbera and Hanna 'latched on' to
each other early on. The two of them couldn't have been any more different, but
it might be safe to say that each man saw his own potential in the other.

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