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Cartoon Culture

The Hanna-Barbera Workout

3400 Cahuenga Blvd. Thursday, 4.19.07, 2:40pm

I was driving south on Cahuenga this afternoon and snapped this pic from my moving car with my cell phone. The signage was just erected. It’s official: The former Hanna-Barbera Studio is now an LA Fitness location.

Very depressing.

  • amid

    Here’s a photo tour of the old studio. I like how the building is being turned into a public space instead of a private office building. Wouldn’t it be great if lots of artists signed up and turned this LA Fitness into a hang-out for the animation community. Let’s keep the cartoon tradition of the building alive.

  • If the building houses a fitness club, it will be responsible for more motion now than it ever was when it housed Hanna-Barbera. Looking at it as an animator, the building got a promotion.

  • Tinker

    That is depressing.

  • If you use the treadmills there, you can run past the same window over and over, just like Fred Flintstone!

  • They could at least have some kind of Jetson’s treadmill that you can walk your dog on and also get spun around on it. For memory’s sake…

  • and what an incredible joy it was for me, 22 years ago, to “stumble” across going inside! It was, literally, “across the street” from Universal Studios!! One of the big thrills of my adult life!

  • jordan reichek

    hey amid…

    your suggestion was what we brought to the city council a few years ago when we halted the bulldozers.

    i know the surroundings suck, but you must give the city council and yes, even the developer credit for agreeing to protect the main studio structure.

    our plan was to have a asifa-esque musuem space that would house all hollywood animation history as well as workshops and the like. didn’t happen but at least the building was spared.

    floyd…nice visual gag there buddy!

  • Now, now… let’s not be mean. Hanna-Barbera didn’t kill animation. They just held a pillow over its face ’til it stopped moving.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Depressing indeed, but thanks to some here for the nice little knocks we come to expect here. :-) (too many places I know in town have
    become fitness establishments so it’s not funny personally)

  • Amid said, “Let’s keep the cartoon tradition of the building alive.”

    The only way that’s gonna happen is if the ghost of Bill Hanna haunts the workout room, chanting, “Cheaper! Faster”, while the ghost of Joe Barbera haunts the women’s showers.

    Seriously, it kills me to see my old stomping grounds with such a makeover, but I guess it was inevitable. After all, by the time H-B built and moved into the Cahuenga studio, they’d already made most of their classic stuff. But I sure have fond memories of working there with some of the greatest cartoonists ever.

  • amid

    Jordan – Thanks for the background info. I should have figured you’d have been involved in helping save the studio.

    Scott – The old UPA studio is now a parking lot. In this case, the buildings are being preserved and more importantly they’re open to the public. I’m not sure I understand the sadness. Plus, H-B barely exists today, at least in any capacity that would justify occupying the building. So what would the alternative be? I haven’t seen how they’re going to remodel the studio, but in theory I think it’s a great idea to give the structure a new lease on life. A much sadder fate has befallen many other animation landmarks in LA.

  • “…and one, and two, and three – feel the burn, Scoob – and four…”

    …well, at least they’re finding a use for the building and saving it.

    When they tore down the Donovan building in Detroit, which was last in use as an office for Motown, people found old album covers, Motown order forms, and Marvin Gaye’s desk and personal papers (!) Is there any chance that a few Scooby or Jonny Quest related items were left behind in the H-B building?

  • Paul

    So it’s worse that the building survived and was turned into a gym rather than being torn down entirely? I don’t get the logic.

  • Tom Minton

    That building was constructed on seismically dubious land to begin with. The basement routinely leaked water, which is where H-B once stored its negatives. Unless they’ve done proper retrofitting, LA Fitness can boast a unique sub street level lap pool in about six months. The coolest historical aspect of that piece of real estate is that it once housed a monkey farm.

  • rorschach

    From the photo, it kinda looks like the building on the right is the actual HB studio, if the link to the older pic is correct. Did it end up getting bought up by LA Fitness next door to it?

  • Didn’t the New York Fleischer Studios locale get turned into a bunch of apartments about a year or so ago?

  • Bill Perkins

    Sad in a way. I grew up watching the “Classic” Hanna Barbara stuff like we all did and first stepped inside the studio in 1976. A portfolio review by Bob Singer got me started in the business and to me being there was a very big deal. I spent a couple of years at Cal Arts and would routinely go down to H and B with friends just to poke around. Met some great people and at that time the internal phone list read like a who’s who of animation. You could go office to office and talk to all kinds of veterans. It was truly fascinating too meet a lot of those guys and they appreciated people wanting to talk too and interested in what they did.

    I’m pragamatist when it comes to some periods in animation history. In fact, I remember the eighties quite fondly. Sure we all worked on He-Man, The Care bears, My little Pony whatever BUT we had work, we were practicing our craft and that stuff paid a lot of bills till Roger Rabbit came along. As well, a lot of people who worked on Roger Rabbit and into the nineties got started at H and B as well as Filmation.

    I worked at H and B in the mid eighties and as silly as it’s going to sound to some I achieved a real professional and personal goal by doing that. When I was a kid Hanna Barbara was all the rage and it was by seeing publicity photos of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbara in the back of an old Dell four colour H and B comic book – which to this day I wish I had kept – that it dawned on me that Hanna Barbara were two guys that looked a lot like my father and they did THIS for a living ! Son of a gun!… and so the seed was planted.

    Anyway by coincidence I was standing outside World Art Supply on Cahuenga the morning ( 2002) construction crews took down the large Hanna Barbara signage that was above the penthouse and clearly visible from the street or freeway for years. I thought to myself THAT was an end of and era. I’m with Amid, I’m glad that the building was saved but would have been happier to have seen it turned into a museum and or at least given Historic site designation.

    Whatever you want to say a lot of us owe H and B.


    Hey…I’m an LA Fitness Member..you mean I can go in and run around the old place whenever I want? Are they open 24/7

    You’re right it’s sad…but hey… I need a good excuse to hit the gym…this is the best one I’ve came across in a while!

    Thanks for the (sad) news…

  • When I first started traveling to LA in the late 70s I’d get a chill going past the building, wondering what kind of magic went on behind the concrete screens. Just the name in plain black type up top screamed out to me. Working there in the 90s we worked like hell to make the building special; one of the happiest days of my life was when Bill Hanna came into my office (originally his) and exclaimed, “Wow! It really *looks* like a cartoon studio now!” Here’s the last picture I have that caught that moment: http://frederatorblogs.com/media/3259. A vital city needs to keep changing, as does a industry and its architecture, and most studios completely disappear, but props out to Jordan Reichek for all the hard work he did to keep it up. It’ll still be nice to get a sense memory of the place, more than we can say for a lot of other homes of great work in the town.

  • Anne D. Bernstein

    The building that housed the Fleischer Studios was demolished and a huge sparkling new condo building rose up to take its place. I think there is an M and M store in the base. Here is the flashy site if you want to check it out: http://www.1600broadway.com/

  • Michael Oberg

    Does anyone out there know if an HB archives exists. I am interested in looking into the history of some of the films HB made in the 1960s for groups like the American Cancer Society.

  • Doug Simpson

    The building on the right side of the photo is NOT going to be part of LA Fitness.
    It’s being refurbished for D/R Added Value, a market research company with offices currently in Eagle Rock.
    Our company has designed the new interior to emphasize the animation history of the building. It should be quite nice and fit the historical aspects of the original occupants.
    Please stop by when the building has been completed.

  • I would love to see this former studio become a cartoon museum. I would like to start this project, but I don’t know how to start nor any funds.