About This Show
The Flintstones was the first, and the longest running, animated situation comedy shown in prime-time television. Premiering on ABC on 30 September 1960, it gained high ratings in its first season, thus establishing animation as a viable prime time format. Produced by Hanna-Barbera (Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera), The Flintstones was patterned after Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners. Designed as a program for the entire family, the program did not appear as "children's television" until its rebroadcast by NBC in 1967. Its popularity with teenagers in its 8:30 P.M. Friday time slot, however, presaged the late 1960s move to animation as the preeminent format for children's programming.
Fred and Wilma Flintstone and their best friends, Barney and Betty Rubble, lived in the prehistoric city of Bedrock but faced the problems of contemporary working-class life. After a day at the rock quarry, Fred and Barney arrived home in a vehicle with stone wheels and a fringe on top. Their lives revolved around their home, friends, and leisure activities: a world of drive-ins, bowling, and their "Water Buffalo" lodge. A baby dinosaur and a saber tooth tiger replaced the family dog and cat. In 1962 and 1963, Pebbles and Bamm Bamm appeared as the daughter and adopted son of the Flintstones and Rubbles respectively.
Aside from being the first animated series made for prime time, The Flintstones also broke new ground in that each episode contained only one story that lasted the full half hour. Until the 1960s, cartoons were generally only a few minutes long. Half-hour programs used three or four shorts (three- to four-minute cartoons) and a live "wrap-around," usually presented by a friendly "host," to complete the program. In another innovation, Hanna-Barbera produced The Flintstones using limited animation techniques. This assembly line method of creating drawings, combined with reduced and simplified body movement, made it possible to manufacture animation cells more cheaply. Because of the lowered cost and the appeal of animation to children, limited animation became the format of choice for children's television in the 1960s, a decade in which children's programming became almost entirely animated.
The Flintstones helped establish Hanna-Barbera Productions as a major Hollywood animation studio and by the late 1960s as the world's largest producer of animated entertainment films. The Flintstones also launched a multi-million dollar merchandising business with hundreds of toys and novelties placed on the market. Perhaps the most enduring product developed in this ancillary line was Flintstones vitamins, also used as a sponsor for the program. Citing the difficulties children might have in distinguishing cartoon characters from the products made in their likenesses, critics attacked the practice of advertising vitamins to children, and such ads were withdrawn in 1972.
The Flintstones characters still appear in commercials for Pebbles' cereals, and other tie ins include films (a major, live-action motion picture in 1994), traveling road shows, toys, and other children's products. The Flintstones played on ABC in prime time through September 1966. The series was rebroadcast on Saturday mornings by NBC from January 1967 through September 1970. Various spin-offs and specials also appeared on the CBS or NBC Saturday morning lineup throughout most of the 1970s, and continue to reappear until the present. The Flintstones is still available in syndication.
Fred Flintstone......................................... Alan Reed Wilma Flintstone............................. Jean Vander Pyl Barney Rubble ..........................................Mel Blanc Betty Rubble (1960-1964)................... Bea Benaderet Betty Rubble (1964-1966).................... Gerry Johnson Dino the Dinosaur .....................................Mel Blanc Pebbles (1963-1966)........................ Jean Vander Pyl Bamm Bamm (1963-1966)..................... Don Messick
PRODUCERS Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera
September 1960-September 1963 Friday 8:30-9:00
September 1963-December 1964 Thursday 7:30-8:00
December 1964-September 1966 Friday 7:30-8:00
Erik Barnouw. Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975; revised edition 1982.
Joseph Turow. Entertainment, Education and the Hard Sell: Three Decades of Network Children's Television. New York: Praeger, 1981.
George Woolery. Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981. Part 1: Animated Cartoon Series. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow, 1983.
Who Talked About This Show
Video clip: From The Flintstones episode, "Hollyrock, Here We Come" (airdate: December 2, 1960)
DVD Available: The Flintstones: The Complete Series
- Joseph Barbera on the creation of The Flintstones, and its comparison to The Honeymooners
Clip begins at: 03:21, Duration: 02m 44s
- Voice artist June Foray on how she was passed over for The Flintstones after working on the pilot and how it caused a rift between her and Hanna-Barbera for many years
Clip begins at: 03:28, Duration: 01m 24s
- ABC executive Thomas Moore on the development of The Flintstones
Clip begins at: 10:56, Duration: 04m 20s
- Joseph Barbera on merchandising The Flintstones' “Pebbles” doll
Clip begins at: 27:24, Duration: 00m 53s
- Custom car designer George Barris on his work on the 1994 live-action feature film of The Flintstones
Clip begins at: 11:09, Duration: 02m 53s
- Joseph Barbera on Hanna-Barbera’s cost-cutting technique of “limited animation”
Clip begins at: 15:23, Duration: 01m 11s
- Joseph Barbera on hiring a Honeymooners writer for The Flintstones (both Herbert Finn and Sydney Zelinka wrote for both), only to discoverthe unsuitability of the scripts
Clip begins at: 24:32, Duration: 00m 52s