Batchelor, Joy (1914—)

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Batchelor, Joy (1914—)

English film animator. Born May 12, 1914, in London, England; married John Halas (b. April 16, 1912), in Budapest. With Halas, Batchelor formed their own animation studio (1940).

Selected filmography:

"Train Trouble" and "Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard" (commercials, 1940); The Pocket Cartoon (1941); Dustbin Parade (1942); Digging for Victory (1942); Abu (series, 1943); Modern Guide to Health (1946); Old Wives' Tales (1946); Charley (series, 1948); First Line of Defense (1949); As Old As the Hills (1950); Magic Canvas (1951); Poet and Painter (series, 1951); Submarine Control (1951); The Figurehead (1952); The Owl and the Pussycat (1953); The Moving Spirit (1953); Power to Fly (1954); Animal Farm (1954); Speed the Plough (1955); The History of Cinema (1956); The Candle-maker (1956); To Your Health (1956); The World of Little Ig (1956); All Lit Up (1957); The Christmas Visitor (1958); The Cultured Ape (1959); The Insolent Matador (1959); Piping Hot (1959); For Better for Worse (1959); "Popeye" (first series for American television, c. 1958). Animated series for TV "The Addams Family," "The Jackson Five," and "The Osmonds" (1970s).

Shorts directed by Batchelor alone:

Classic Fairy Tales (1966); Colombo Plan (1967); The Commonwealth (1967); Bolly (1968); The Five (1970); Wet Dot (1970); Contact (1973); The Ass and the Stick (1974); Carry on Milkmaids (1974).

In the late 1930s, Joy Batchelor was working on a color cartoon called Music Man, when John Halas, a Hungarian émigré who had studied animation with George Pal, joined the team. Batchelor and Halas married, became business partners, and, as the team of Halas and Batchelor, were the most prolific and successful animators in British history.

Their company was originally formed in 1940 as an independent subsidiary of the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency, headquartered in London. During WWII, the agency wanted to develop in-house talent to make animated propaganda films. Following the war, the company intended that the animators stay on to animate in-house commercials. Though Halas and Batchelor's first two efforts, "Train Trouble" and "Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard," were soap commercials, most of the films they made between 1941 and 1945 were for the war effort. One of the first, Digging for Victory, encouraged the British citizenry to save scrap metal. Though the subject of the film was less than glamorous, it brought Halas and Batchelor together with composer Matyas Seiber who would eventually compose over 250 scores for the team. Also produced by the British war department was a string of propaganda films called the "Abu" series. Aimed at Arab audiences in the Middle East, Halas and Batchelor created Abu, a young Arab boy, who sought to dissuade his compatriots from following the Axis powers. Hitler, in particular, was portrayed looming and snake-like.

After the war, Halas and Batchelor made instructional and public-relations films. On behalf of Britain's newly elected Socialist government, Sir Stafford Cripps commissioned a film series to help the British understand the new government's intentions. The team introduced a character named Charley, a man-in-the-street cartoon character who voiced popular objections to the new legislation but, once won over, accepted the new ideas enthusiastically.

Eventually, Halas and Batchelor embarked on films that were more personally satisfying. Magic Canvas (1948) was an abstract, avantgarde film set to a musical score, a dramatic departure from anything they had done in the past. In the early 1950s, Halas and Batchelor took on their most ambitious project, adapting George Orwell's classic novel Animal Farm. Taking nearly three years to complete, Animal Farm was the first full-length animated feature to come out of Great Britain, and it brought them international fame.

In the late '50s, the team continued to make industrial or commercial projects for companies like British Petroleum but they also had become well-known in the United States. This led to the first American television series, the popular "Popeye" which ran for at least two decades in syndication. In the 1970s, the couple worked on several cartoon series for children produced by Hanna-Barbera, most notably "The Addams Family," "The Jackson Five" and "The Osmonds."


Hoffer, Thomas. Animation: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981.

Manvell, Roger. The Story of Halas and Batchelor: Animation Studio 1940–1980. NY: Visual Communication Books, 1980.

Deborah Jones , Studio City, California