LOS ANGELES (October 10, 2006) — Ed Benedict, a legendary animator who put life, love and laughter in TV cartoon characters like Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and Yogi Bear, has died at the age of 94.
Benedict died in his sleep on Aug. 28 in Auburn in Northern California, his longtime friend and fellow animator David K. Sheldon confirmed Tuesday.
“He was quite an interesting fellow, that’s for sure,” Sheldon said. “He was the main character designer for all the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw.”
Benedict, who worked at MGM, Universal and other studios on short, theatrical cartoons, joined Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera soon after the pair launched their groundbreaking Hanna-Barbera TV animation studio in the late 1950s. Among his many designs for them were the characters for their first series, 1957’s “The Ruff & Reddy Show.”
For “The Flintstones,” the story of a “modern Stone Age family,” Benedict not only designed the hapless cavemen Fred and Barney, but also their long-suffering wives, Wilma and Betty, and the show’s clever array of Stone Age houses and gadgets, including the characters’ foot-powered cars.
“The Flintstones,” one of the first cartoon series created for adults as well as children, debuted in 1960 and was an immediate hit. Forty-six years later, Fred and Barney remain squarely in the public consciousness as pitchmen for various products, including Flintstones’ vitamins.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that a large part of H-B’s success in TV animation is owed to Benedict’s incredibly appealing and fun character designs,” cartoon historian Jerry Beck wrote in a tribute posted on the Web site cartoonbrew.com
Without the time and budget that were lavished on classic theatrical cartoons, TV animated comedies had to leave out beautiful backgrounds and lifelike movement in favor of witty dialogue and stories with vivid characters.
“Benedict’s designs are both simple they needed to be to accommodate the strenuous demands of limited TV animation and highly sophisticated, containing that indefinable drawing quality that gives a drawing charm and personality,” Amid Amidi wrote in his book “Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation.”
Before joining Hanna-Barbera, Benedict worked for another cartoon legend, Tex Avery, at both Universal and MGM studios. At MGM, where Hanna and Barbera also worked, he was the lead layout artist and designer on “Deputy Droopy” and other popular theatrical shorts.
He also worked with “Woody Woodpecker” creator Walter Lantz on several shorts, including “The Dizzy Dwarf” and “Unpopular Mechanic.”
Benedict, who was preceded in death by his wife, Alice, had requested that his ashes be scattered over California’s Carmel Bay.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.