A less-animated world: On the passing of Joseph Barbera and Chris Hayward

Today’s New York Times brought to the sad news of the deaths of two men who had some fun in their lives making our lives more fun.

Joseph Barbera, Half of Cartoon Duo, Dies at 95:

Joseph Barbera, an innovator of animation who teamed with William Hanna to give generations of young television viewers a pantheon of beloved characters, including Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and the Flintstones, died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 95.

Mr. Barbera and the studio he founded with Mr. Hanna, Hanna-Barbera Productions, became synonymous with television animation, yielding more than 100 cartoon series over four decades, including “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?,” “Jonny Quest” and “The Smurfs.”

On signature televisions shows like “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons,” the two men developed a cartoon style that combined colorful, simply drawn characters (often based on other recognizable pop-culture personalities) with the narrative structures and joke-telling techniques of traditional live-action sitcoms. They were television’s first animated comedy programs.

Over the next 17 years, the occasionally sadistic antics that Mr. Barbera and Mr. Hanna devised for their anthropomorphic rivals — rechristened Tom and Jerry — would earn MGM another 13 Oscar nominations and seven statuettes.

Chris Hayward, 81, TV Writer and a Creator of ‘Munsters,’ Is Dead

Chris Hayward, an Emmy-winning writer for television whose work was once banned in Canada because of the painful inadequacies of one of its leading men — the righteous, square-jawed and stupendously slow-witted Mountie Dudley Do-Right — died on Nov. 20 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Mr. Hayward, who was also a creator of “The Munsters,” was 81.

Mr. Hayward was for many years a writer for Jay Ward Productions, creators of the subversive animated cartoons starring Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. Originally broadcast on ABC in 1959 as “Rocky and His Friends,” the program, renamed “The Bullwinkle Show,” moved to NBC in 1961; it returned to ABC from 1964 to 1973.

A sophisticated cold war spoof (moose and squirrel are locked in endless battle with the perfidious Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale), the show attracted an ardent cult following and has been blessed with eternal life in syndication. It comprised various segments, including “Fractured Fairy Tales,” narrated by Edward Everett Horton, and “Peabody’s Improbable History,” starring a cerebral dog.

Mr. Hayward worked on all the segments but was most closely associated with “The Adventures of Dudley Do-Right,” which followed the hapless royal Canadian Mountie in his ceaseless pursuit of Snidely Whiplash, a very naughty man.

Because the Dudley Do-Right segments were deemed harmful to the national esteem, the Rocky and Bullwinkle shows were initially not broadcast in Canada.

With Allan Burns, Mr. Hayward also conceived of “The Munsters.” The show, which chronicled the twisted fortunes of a family of ghouls, was broadcast on CBS from 1964 to 1966. At first, the two men received no credit for creating it. Only after the Writers Guild of America took up their case with the producer, Universal Studios, were they awarded credit and financial compensation.

uring the 1950’s, he worked for Mr. Ward on the animated series “Crusader Rabbit.”

But no subsequent job could match the peculiar charms of working for Jay Ward, a rogue cartoon producer famous for his economy. Jay Ward Productions was no Hanna-Barbera: Mr. Hayward often worked in a freezing basement, for little compensation beyond the joy of writing deliciously bad puns for the masses.

“The pay was low and the insecurity great,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1988. “Jay felt the writers should pay him. His theory was ‘Never show a profit or else you’ll have to pay people.’ ”

I remember the Flintstones and Yogi Bear quite well. I had lots of fun watching those cartoons.

But I have even fonder memories of Crusader Rabbit and especially Dudley Do-Right, himself the subject of a recent post DUDley Snideley on Software – shutdown shot down.

One of my favorite films is Sullivan’s Travels by Preston Sturges. It’s about a successful film director who wants to make a film about poverty, but he is told no because he doesn’t know enough about poverty. So he takes to the road and encounters numerous adventures, the most memorable of which result in his winding up in a labor camp watching a cartoon with his fellow prisoners. His hearing their laughter and seeing the joy on their faces makes him realize that comedy is important — what better gift than to make another person laugh?

Sullivan was played by Joel McCrea, one of my favorite actors ever. I probably first saw him in Four Faces West, but I most enjoyed his radio series, Tales of the Texas Rangers; I listened to it every week. My mother worked the the theater company in Albuquerque and once, when she noted he was taking the train from his home to Texas to Los Angeles, she arranged for me to meet him and shake his had when the train stopped in Albuquerque. (She also arranged for me to meet both Dwight Eisenower and Adlai Stevenson during the 1956 campain. She said it was hilarious in that as you saw them going down the line of well-wishers, each had to bend down noticeably to shake the hand of young Master Shields.)

Joseph Barbera, Chris Hayward — may their memories be a blessing, as well as Preston Sturges and Joel McCrea.


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