Ben Hardaway

Joseph Benson Hardaway (May 21, 1895 – February 5, 1957) was an American storyboard artist, animator, voice actor, gagman, writer and director for several American animation studios during The Golden Age of Hollywood animation. He was sometimes credited as J. B. Hardaway, Ben Hardaway, Buggsy Hardaway and B. Hardaway.[1]

J. B. Hardaway
Joseph Benson Hardaway

(1895-05-21)May 21, 1895
DiedFebruary 5, 1957(1957-02-05) (aged 61)
OccupationStoryboard artist, animator, voice actor, gagman, writer, director
Years active1933–1957


He started his animation career working for the Kansas City Film Ad Service. He later worked for the Walt Disney Animation Studios and the Ub Iwerks Studio. He was hired by the Leon Schlesinger studio as a gagman for the Friz Freleng unit. He was promoted to director for seven Buddy animated shorts. Afterwards he resumed working as a gagman and storyman.[2] Storymen started receiving film credits in 1937. His writing credits include Daffy Duck & Egghead and The Penguin Parade.[2]

While at the Schlesinger/Warner Bros. studio during the late 1930s, Hardaway served as a storyman, and co-directed several Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts with Cal Dalton during Friz Freleng's three-year exodus to MGM. Leon Schlesinger needed a replacement for Freleng, and Hardaway's previous experience in the job resulted in his promotion.[2] In 1938, Hardaway co-directed Porky's Hare Hunt, the first film to feature a rabbit. This as yet unnamed, embryonic rabbit was later named in an early model sheet as "Bugs' Bunny".

A new drawing of a redesigned rabbit had been requested by the story department as described by Virgil Ross, the animator of A Wild Hare in an interview published in Animato magazine issue #19.[3]

Animator Ben "Bugs" Hardaway inadvertently christened him when "his casual sketch of a proposed rabbit character" was labeled "Bugs's Bunny" by a fellow employee, as described in the Encyclopædia Britannica.[4]

When Freleng returned to Warner Bros. in 1939, Hardaway was demoted back to storyman,[5] while Tex Avery eventually created his own rabbit which would later replace Hardaway's Rabbit.[6] In 1940, Hardaway joined the staff of Walter Lantz Productions, where he helped Walter Lantz in creating the studio's most famous character, Woody Woodpecker. Hardaway wrote or co-wrote most of the stories for the 1940-1951 Woody Woodpecker shorts, as well as supplying Woody's voice between 1944 and 1949.[6]


His son, Bob Hardaway was the saxophonist for Woody Herman’s band and played woodwinds on dozens of hit records from the 1950s through the 1990s in support of musicians as diverse as Harry Nilsson, Bonnie Raitt, the Partridge Family, Dinah Washington, the Turtles, Stan Kenton, Neil Diamond and Lulu as well as leading his own jazz combos and being a member of the NBC Orchestra.

His granddaughter, Jennifer Hardaway (daughter of son Bob and vocal jazz legend Pinky Winters) is an entrepreneur and owner of Phoebe Peacock, a lifestyle brand and parfumerie in Burbank, CA. The shop is named after Hazel Hardaway's (Ben's wife's) mother. Jennifer is also an accomplished singer, especially of harmonies, and she was a member of Los Angeles bands The Clear and Superman Loses the Girl in the 1990s and early aughts and sang backing vocals with several local LA singer-songwriters.


  • Sigall, Martha (2005). "The Boys of Termite Terrace". Living Life Inside the Lines: Tales from the Golden Age of Animation. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781578067497.


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