William Hanna, a native of Melrose, New Mexico; and Joseph Barbera, born of Italian heritage in New York City, first met at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in 1939, while working at its animation division (thru its Rudolf Ising unit) and thus began a partnership that would last for over six decades. Their first directorial production and collaboration was the Academy Award-nominated Puss Gets the Boot, featuring a cat named Jasper and an unnamed mouse, released to theaters in 1940. It served as the basis for the popular long-running Tom and Jerry series of short subject theatricals. Hanna and Barbera served as directors of the shorts for over 20 years, with Hanna in charge of supervising the animation and Barbera in charge of the stories and pre-production.
Puss Gets the Boot – 1940
Puss Gets the Boot is a 1940 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the first short in the Tom and Jerry cartoon series, though the duo are not identified as such in this short. It was directed by William Hanna, Joseph Barbera and Rudolf Ising, and produced by Rudolf Ising and Fred Quimby. As was the practice of MGM shorts at the time, only Rudolf Ising is credited. It was released to theaters on February 10, 1940 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The Midnight Snack – 1941
The Midnight Snack is a 1941 Tom and Jerry cartoon produced by Fred Quimby and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with musical supervision by Scott Bradley. It is the second cartoon in the series.
Dog Trouble – 1942
Dog Trouble is a 1942 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the fifth Tom and Jerry cartoon released. It was produced in Technicolor, released to theaters on April 18, 1942 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and reissued for re-release on June 21, 1952. It was animated by George Gordon, Irven Spence, Jack Zander, Cecil Surry and Bill Littlejohn.
The cartoon introduces the character of Spike, who would later become a recurring supporting character in the Tom and Jerry and later Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer shorts. In this cartoon, Spike serves as the main antagonist, forcing Tom and Jerry to team up for the first time to overcome him.
Sufferin’ Cats! – 1943
Sufferin’ Cats! is a 1943 American one-reel animated cartoon, is the 9th Tom and Jerry animated short released. It was produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on January 16, 1943 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and re-released on June 4, 1949. This is the final cartoon to have Clarence Nash voice Tom Cat, though he would later voice the vicious cats in Mouse in Manhattan. After this cartoon, Tom or any other MGM cat character would just yelp in pain whenever they get hurt. Tom’s yelps were done by creator William Hanna.
The Lonesome Mouse – 1943
The Lonesome Mouse is a 1943 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the 10th Tom and Jerry cartoon released. This is notable for being the first speaking role of the cat and mouse duo, and the only one with such extensive dialogue. It was created and released in 1943, and re-released to theatres on November 26, 1949. It was directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and produced by Fred Quimby.
The animators of the cartoon were not credited (typically for Pre-1943 MGM Cartoons), and this was the last Tom and Jerry cartoon to follow this trend. All future Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts credited the animators. The original opening theme was “Runnin’ Wild”, as heard in Barney Bear’s Wild Honey. It was replaced by the later Tom and Jerry theme (used the next time originally on the 1949 ‘Love that Pup’ and on all Hanna-Barbara episodes into the 50’s and even widely used in the early 60’s by Gene Deitch) on the re-issue. This cartoon is animated by Kenneth Muse, George Gordon, Jack Zander and Irven Spence, with additional animation by Pete Burness and Al Grandmain.