Hugh Harman
Born(1903-08-31)August 31, 1903
DiedNovember 25, 1982(1982-11-25) (aged 79)
Years active1922–1963
FamilyFred Harman (brother)
Walker Harman (brother)
Hugh harman signature.png

Hugh Harman (August 31, 1903 – November 25, 1982) was an American animator. He was known for creating the Warner Bros. Cartoons and MGM Cartoons[1] and his collaboration with Rudolf Ising during the golden age of American animation.


He began his work with Walt Disney in 1922, working on Disney's early Laugh-o-Gram Cartoons.[2][3] When that company went bankrupt, Harman and partner Rudolf Ising tried to start a new series based on the Arabian Nights, but were unable to obtain funding.[4] Disney called them back when he began work for Charles Mintz, producing the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. After a dispute over pricing, Mintz forced out Disney and kept Harman and Ising on for another year, when they in turn were forced out by Carl Laemmle and replaced by a young Walter Lantz.[5] Harman, Ising, and a few other ex-Disney animators put together a pilot short, "Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid", which was used by producer Leon Schlesinger to obtain a contract with Warner Brothers' studios to produce animated cartoons. Harman and Ising started the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, and produced them for three years. After another argument over money (this time with Schlesinger), Harman and Ising left Warner Brothers for MGM in 1933.[6]

MGM Cartoons and later career

They produced quite a few "Happy Harmonies" for MGM until yet again they left over another financial arrangement. After MGM, Harman & Ising formed their own studio, where they made Cubby Bear cartoons for The Van Beuren Corporation, but was ultimately unsuccessful.[7] MGM hired them back, with them continuing where they left off with the Happy Harmonies, with the distribution contract for Harman ultimately ending in 1937.[8] Peace on Earth was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost.[2] The same year his contract ended, Disney borrowed the Harman-Ising Ink and Paint unit for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the whole entire studio animated on a Silly Symphonies short called Merbabies.[9] However, his last cartoon for MGM was The Field Mouse, produced in 1940. By the time the cartoon was released he formed his own studio.[10]

In 1943, the duo signed a deal with Orson Welles to adapt The Little Prince. Welles would've played the role of the aviator while a random child actor would act as the prince. A few months later, Welles fell ill with hepatitis, nearly dying while recovering in Florida. After this, the deal fell through and the film was scrapped.[1][9] From 1945 to 1947, his production company would produce various cartoons for the army and for educational films.[11][12] After a two year hiatus, Harman returned to the animation industry with The Littlest Angel, a collaboration between his company and Coronet Films.[13] Harman's final film he did (albeit incomplete and entirely shipped to Coronet, completed by Gordon A. Sheehan) was Tom Thumb in King Arthur's Court. Harman worked on the film extensively with Mel Shaw, but ultimately gave production to Coronet because he couldn't complete it.[14][9]

Later life

Harman was in constant poverty, having to borrow money from colleagues Friz Freleng and Roy O. Disney in the 1970s to keep afloat. He could no longer afford a car and lived in a ramshackle house. Harman received a monthly allowance from his brother Fred until his death in February 1982, and when that happened, his friends, like animator Mark Kausler and historian Jim Korkis, who both met him through Bob Clampett, put him up in a house on Chatsworth.[15][9]

On November 25, 1982, Harman died after a long illness in his home.[2]


  1. ^ a b Barrier, Michael. "Hugh Harman, An Interview". Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Hugh Harman, 79, Creator Of 'Looney Tunes' Cartoons". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Korkis, Jim (March 22, 2017). "The Laugh-O-gram Story: Part One". MousePlanet. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  4. ^ Barrier, Michael (1999). Hollywood cartoons : American animation in its golden age. p. 43. ISBN 978-0195037593.
  5. ^ The History of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Part Two
  6. ^ Barrier, Michael (1999). Hollywood cartoons : American animation in its golden age. pp. 154–164. ISBN 978-0195037593.
  7. ^ Harman/ Ising’s “Mischivous Mice” (1934)
  8. ^ Those MGM Jazz Frog Cartoons
  9. ^ a b c d "Cartoon Logic Episode 10: Mark Kausler Remembers Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising". January 6, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  10. ^ Hugh Harman’s “The Field Mouse” (1941)
  11. ^ Hugh Harman’s “Easy Does It” (1946)
  12. ^ Hugh Harman’s “Winky the Watchman” – and How to Do a Great Commentary Track
  13. ^ Coronet Films “The Littlest Angel” (1950)
  14. ^ Hugh Harman and Gordon Sheehan’s “Tom Thumb in King Arthur’s Court” (1963)
  15. ^ Korkis, Jim. "Animation Anecdotes #292". Retrieved April 15, 2022.