The Faithful Departed: Joseph Barbera (1911-2006)

A Sad Day in Bedrock: From The Bedrock Times Obituary section

BEDROCK, Dec. 19, 2006
Celebrities and dignitaries streamed into the memorial service for JOSEPH BARBERA at Bedrock Memorial Chapel today. Yogi Bear, Booboo, Fred Flintstone and Shaggy offer emotional, stirring eulogies for their creator, mentor and guide…

You’ll have a yabba-dabba-doo time
My first history lesson as a kid was something about pre-history: Brontosaurus burgers could be ordered at the drive-in way-back-then. My history teacher was Joseph Barbera and, along with my favorite family, The Flintstones, he would prove to be one of the most influential people in my young life—though I didn’t know him.

Joseph Barbera’s name will forever be connected with that of his partner, William Hanna. Together they created some of the most fun, enduring cartoon characters in the history of television—in fact, they paved the way for many TV characters to follow—from Kermit the Frog to Homer Simpson. Anyone who grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s can sing the theme song from the Flintstones, tell you about the Jetson’s robot, Rosie, or give their impression of Scooby’s “Roooby rooby roo!”

Smarter than the average bear
I’ve spent many years in Children’s Theater and I believe that my characters are informed by that early exposure to Yogi & booboo, Scooby, Huckleberry and Fred. My first experience as a performer came when, as a kid, I imitated cartoon characters form Barney Rubble to Scooby-Doo and got laughs from my friends—it gave me cache in school—and the joy that the creations of Joseph Barbera brought to so many of us continues to be an inspiration to me.

It’s funny to say that a cartoonist who pens a fake family could be an inspiration. I remember our family gathering in front of the TV to watch the Flintstones-and my mom and dad enjoyed them as much as I. I wondered if I would work at a job with a huge whistle that would blow at the end of the day. How many times do we have to gather as a family in community and laugh together ?

Yessir, Mr. Ranger, Sir
Joseph Barbara originally studied to become an accountant at a bank but lost his job during the great depression. He tried to turn his doodling ability into a career as a magazine cartoonist but found his calling in Hollywood doing animated cartoons. His career took off when he partnered with William Hanna.

Leonard Maltin wrote in his book Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. Barbera brought the comic gags and skilled drawing, while Hanna brought warmth and a keen sense of timing.”

Oh My Darlin’ Clementine
His cartoons are very simple—they are fun, funny and never get old… how many times did Fred drive past the same 3 buildings on his way to pick up the neighbors down the street? The stakes were very high for Yogi as he searched for the latest “pic-ah-nic” basket. I never doubted for a minute that Shaggy and Scooby would save the day.

I now have a little son—he’s not old enough yet to watch cartoons, but I am looking forward to the day when we can share some time together laughing at the antics of the folks in Bedrock. I’ll have to explain to him who Carey Granite was and that we won’t be able to visit Spacely Sprockets any time soon.

Well done, my good and faithful servant
A priest once told me that humor and holiness go hand-in-hand. There is something about the release of laughter that lightens the spirit and the body and makes the burdens of life easier to bear. We don’t really have evidence of the humor of the saints—only a few dry paragraphs describing their devotion to God, life of service & prayer. With Joseph Barbera, we’ll always have a thousand hours of laughs, spills, songs and complete ridiculousness to lift our spirits. That is the stuff that inspires me.