Flintstones, The


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tabs

About

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.

-Alison Alexander

CAST (Voices)

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

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

ABC

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

FURTHER READING

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.

Highlights
Custom car designer George Barris on his work on the 1994 live-action feature film of The Flintstones
02:53
Who talked about this show

Joseph Barbera

View Interview
Joseph Barbera on the creation and sale of The Flintstones, and on basing the show on The Honeymooners
08:51
Joseph Barbera on the longevity of his partnership with William Hanna, and on the creation of "Pebbles Flintstone" on The Flintstones
04:34
Joseph Barbera on the live action feature version of The Flintstones, and plans for other live action versions of his animated characters
01:40

George Barris

View Interview
Custom car designer George Barris on his work on the 1994 live-action feature film of The Flintstones
02:53

Lucille Bliss

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Lucille Bliss on voicing characters on The Flinstones
01:18

Sam Bobrick

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Sam Bobrick on writing for The Flintstones, and on how he came to write for The Andy Griffith Show with Bill Persky
03:43

June Foray

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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
02:15

Chuck Fries

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Chuck Fries on Screen Gems producing The Flintstones created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
05:18

Harvey Korman

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Harvey Korman on voicing "The Great Gazoo" on The Flintstones
03:32

Thomas W. Moore

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Thomas W. Moore on programming and developing The Flintstones
04:25

Howard Morris

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Howard Morris on doing voiceover work for Hanna-Barbera for shows like The Jetsons and The Flintstones
05:01

Joyce Randolph

View Interview
Joyce Randolph on how The Honeymooners impacted television
01:21

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