The Flintstones: Cartoon Icons of American TV
The Flintstones is an animated, prime-time American TV series that ran from September 30, 1960 to April 1, 1966, on the ABC network.
Produced by the team of Hanna-Barbera, The Flintstones follows the lives and adventures of two working-class Stone-Age families, the Flintstones and the Rubbles. Though telecast in black-and-white during its first two seasons, it was filmed in color from the start.
A clever juxtaposition of modern everyday concerns in a Stone Age setting, The Flintstones takes place in the "modern" metropolis of Bedrock. (In some of the earlier episodes, it was referred to as "Rockville.”) In this fantastic vision of the ancient past, dinosaurs, saber-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths, and other long-extinct animals co-exist with barefoot cavemen who drive cars.
Like their 20th-century counterparts, the cavemen of Bedrock listen to records, live in split-level homes, and eat out at restaurants, yet their technology is made entirely--and often quite inventively--from pre-industrial materials, largely powered through the use of various animals.
For example, the cars are made from stone, wood, and animal skins, and powered by the passengers' feet. ("Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet" is part of the lyric that many people have not been able to decipher over the decades when they listen to the theme song.)
Other commonly seen gadgets include instant cameras (inside which a bird carves the picture on a stone tablet with its bill), baby woolly mammoths that double as vacuum cleaners, elevators (that raise and lower by ropes around brontosauruses' necks), "automatic" windows (powered by monkeys), bird "car horns," "electric" razors (made from clam shells; the vibrating provided by a honey-bee inside), a washing machine (that’s actually a pelican with a beak full of soapy water), and a record player (that uses a woodpecker--his beak, actually--to play the records.
Arguably the star of The Flintstones, Fred Flintstone, works for Slate Construction Company as a dinosaur-powered steam shovel operator, and lives in a comfy middle-class cave with his wife Wilma. Their next door neighbors are the Rubbles, Barney and Betty. Best buddies, Fred and Barney regularly bowl (with stone bowling balls) and sometimes munch on “bronto” burgers while speculating at the dinosaur race track. Meanwhile, both Wilma and Betty are best girl-chums.
To the delight of fans, midway through season three, Wilma gave birth to a baby daughter they named Pebbles (episode "Dress Rehearsal" aired on February 22, 1963), and the following year the Rubbles (making The Flintstones the first animated series in history to address the issue of infertility) adopted an orphan boy named Bamm Bamm (“Little Bamm-Bamm” aired on October, 3, 1963) "the world's strongest baby."
One of the coolest features of this highly popular animated TV show (which for many seasons drew a higher rating with adults than kids) is the wide range of lampoons of current sociological developments and pop-culture fads and icons. Both Elvis Presley's Colonel Tom Parker and the Beatles' Brian Epstein were satirized (the latter as "Eppy Brianstone"), while Wilma and Betty's favorite movie stars included Cary Granite and Stoney Gherkins, while the "Jackie Kennelrock" (Kennedy) look was the epitome of high fashion.
Additionally, "Ed Sulleyrock/Sulleystone" (Ed Sullivan), "Rock Pile/Quarry/ Hudstone" (Rock Hudson), "Ann-Margrock" (Ann-Margret), "Jimmy Darrock" (James Darren), "Alvin Brickrock" (Alfred Hitchcock), "Perry Masonary/Masonite" (Perry Mason as played by Raymond Burr), "Mick Jadestone and The Rolling Boulders" (Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones), and "The Beau Brummelstones" (The Beau Brummels) were known to drop by on this fashion-forward show. And among the most popular cave-era TV shows were "Hum Along With Herman" (a spoof on the popular Sing Along With Mitch) and "Dripper" (a nod to Flipper).
Remaining on ABC's nighttime schedule until September 2, 1966, The Flintstones ran for 166 episodes, a record for prime-time animation that would remain unbroken until The Simpsons in the 1990s. Following the show's cancellation in 1966, a film based on the series, The Man Called Flintstone, was created, a musical spy caper that parodied James Bond and other secret agents of the era. The series also resulted in numerous cartoon spinoffs including The Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm Show and Fred and Barney, Meet the Shmoo, as well as a collection of real people-action theatrical features the first of which starred John Goodman as Fred, Rick Moranis as Barney, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma, Rosie O'Donnell as Betty, and famed actress Elizabeth Taylor as Wilma's mother.
A particular milestone, The Flintstones was the first American animated show to depict two people of the opposite sex (Fred and Wilma; Barney and Betty) sleeping together in one bed, although Fred and Wilma are sometimes depicted as sleeping separately. The first live-action depiction of this in American TV history was in television's first-ever sitcom: 1947's Mary Kay and Johnny.
The Flintstones celebrated its 50th anniversary on September 30, 2010.
Fred Flintstone: Alan Reed; Henry Corden (singing voice in The Man Called Flintstone only)
Wilma Flintstone/Pebbles Flintstone: Jean Vander Pyl
Barney Rubble: Mel Blanc; Daws Butler (season 2; episodes 1, 2, 5, 6, and 9 only)
Betty Rubble: Bea Benaderet (seasons 1–4); Gerry Johnson (seasons 5–6)
Bamm-Bamm Rubble: Don Messick
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