MY LIFE IN 'TOONS by Joseph Barbera


From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century
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 Barbera's animated characters--Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, and the Jetsons--may have kept American kids entertained for the past 30 years, but don't expect a side- splitting memoir here. Rather than laughter, his autobiography inspires bored yawns and knowing nods; it's jammed with dull details and horror stories that confirm Hollywood's dog-eat-dog reputation. Barbera begins his story with the 1960 Flintstones odyssey: Holed up in a New York hotel for eight weeks, he peddled the denizens of Bedrock to ad agencies and TV networks with no luck until his very last prospect (ABC) bought the show, which went on to be wildly successful. Barbera wasn't an unknown doodler when he went door-to-door with the Flintstones in 1960--he and Bill Hanna had won seven Academy Awards and created a major Hollywood studio--but in the media business, he tells us, each venture is a fresh battle. Of more interest than Barbera's depiction of his Lower East Side childhood, struggling apprenticeship, and California lifestyle (earthquakes, brush fires, pool parties) is his view of Hollywood creativity and deal making. He reveals that many of his best inventions were improvised; Fred Flintstone's famous ``Yabba-Dabba-Do,'' for instance, was a last-minute suggestion by the voice actor. ``My whole life...has been determined by perfectly casual, almost thoughtless decisions and actions,'' writes Barbera. Unfortunately, ``casual'' and ``thoughtless'' are adjectives that can also be applied to this book's structure. Random recollections and asides disrupt the narrative, which seems to name every animator and ad man the author met during a 50-year career. MGM producers always picked up the Oscars won by Hanna-Barbera cartoons. If Barbera had been able to step up to the podium, maybe his memoir would read less like a long acceptance speech. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-57036-042-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994


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