Before I ever worked for Jack, I wrote him while researching an article about MGM cartoons. Here's what he replied:
Thanks for your letter. Yes I did work with Harman and Ising. Started with them in 1931 as an animator (I was never an inbetweener!). $40 per week. Worked on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and "Bosko" both for Hugh and Rudy. I left H + I in 1933 to come to N.Y. and work for Van Beuren Corp. making Toonerville Trolley etc. Van Beuren closed in 1936. I worked for Paul Terry for about a year.
Had a call from Max Maxwell who said they were starting a cartoon dept. at MGM and could I help him with people. I rounded up Dan Gordon, Ray Kelly, Joe Barbera and Mike Meyers and we went to Calif. in the fall of 1937.
Bob Allen and Bill Hanna had left H + I to start MGM. They were the two directors and Max Maxwell was the production manager. Fred Quimby was the "Boss."
The first pictures were terrible. So during the next few years MGM hired everyone they could think of to make it work, including Milt Gross, Harry Herschfeld, High and Rudy, each of which lasted for a year or less. Finally in 1940 Hanna and Barbera hit on Tom and Jerry which was an immediate success. At that time I was animating the mouse which I did for 2 yrs. Tex Avery ran his other unit very successfully.
Animators there were Pete Burness, Emery Hawkins, Bill Littlejohn, Ken Muse, Irv Spence, J.Z. and others in and out.
Hugh and Rudy left and business went on as usual. I don't recall what they left to do, but Quimby (who knew nothing about the business) was generally unsatisfied with their efforts.
When Bob Allen and Bill Hanna left H + I they took the key men with them in 1937 leaving H + I very high and dry.
Friz Freleng was also a director at MGM. His brother was a "gag man."
Heck Allen, Bob's brother, was also a "gag man."
In 1942 I enlisted and came to N.Y. to work in the Signal Corps.
There's lots more info. Too bad you can't drop in for a short talk.
Thanks for your interest.