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William Hanna, the cartoonist who transformed animation, dies aged 90

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

A series of catch phrases may be a strange way to be remembered. But when your legacy includes lines as memorable as "Yabba dabba doo", "Scooby - where are you?" and "Wilma!" no one is going to forget you quickly. William Hanna, the pioneering cartoonist whose creations included Yogi Bear, Tom and Jerry and Fred Flintstone, has died at home in Los Angeles after suffering from ill health for several months. The innovator - who with his partner, Joseph Barbera transformed the world of animation - was aged 90.

A series of catch phrases may be a strange way to be remembered. But when your legacy includes lines as memorable as "Yabba dabba doo", "Scooby - where are you?" and "Wilma!" no one is going to forget you quickly. William Hanna, the pioneering cartoonist whose creations included Yogi Bear, Tom and Jerry and Fred Flintstone, has died at home in Los Angeles after suffering from ill health for several months. The innovator - who with his partner, Joseph Barbera transformed the world of animation - was aged 90.

Sarah Baisley, the editor in chief of Animation magazine, said: "Most in the entertainment industry credit the two men with having engineered the possibility of TV series animation. They invented the system that really introduced animation for television."

Hanna, who trained to be an engineer, started his animation career during the Depression when he worked in the ink and paint department of a Los Angeles studio. It was there he met the man who would be his working partner for more than half a century. The two men created the battling cat and mouse team of Tom and Jerry and, over the next 15 years, they turned out 113 cartoons featuring the pair. Tom and Jerry won seven Academy Awards.

Hanna, who died on Thursday, once said: "On the Tom and Jerrys, Joe and I would sit across a desk from each other and develop the story. Joe would do the storyboard and I'd do the timing and direction of the animation. I would go over the scenes with the artists and tell them what I wanted.

"We used to make one six-minute cartoon about every six weeks. I enjoyed doing the Tom and Jerry cartoons and if we had never done anything else I would have been happy."

But they did much more than that, creating characters as diverse as Quick Draw McGraw, Top Cat, Magilla Gorilla and Scooby Doo. In total they produced more than 3,000 half-hour shows and 150 different series. Their cartoon classics have been turned into live-action feature films, including 1994's The Flintstones, starring John Goodman, and Scooby-Doo due out next year from Warner Bros.

Betty Cohen, the president of Cartoon Network, which still showcases the Hanna-Barbera library, said: "We are saddened by the death of one of the most influential animators of our time. Bill was a cartoon scientist and a genius at timing. The cartoons of Hanna-Barbera have influenced and entertained generations of kids and adults and will serve as a legacy to his talent."

Hanna is survived by his wife, a son and daughter and seven grandchildren. Barbera, is also 90 this month and still lives in California.

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