“The Flintstones” was a half-hour animated sitcom that originally ran for six seasons, from September 30, 1960 to April 1, 1966.
All 166 episodes were produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, and initially aired on ABC before living on (and on and on… and on) in reruns.
Trivia time! Originally, the cartoon show was going to be called “The Flagstones.” That name was even used in 1959 in a clip used to sell the show to advertisers. The family way back then included only Fred, Wilma and a son named Fred Junior.
“Flagstones – meet the Flagstones…” Just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?
TV’s fantastic Flintstones
Come with us to beautiful Bedrock, where life is more fun than a barrel of dinosaurs
By Larry Wolters, in the Chicago Tribune (Illinois) April 2, 1961
In television, it sometimes pays to have rocks in your head. It certainly is paying off for Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, two Hollywood guys who decided to give detectives and cowboys some competition in the form of cavemen.
They call them the Flintstones, a family of prehistoric suburbanites who face all the problems of modern life, including babysitters.
Hanna and Barbera already are Emmy award winners, thanks to some of their earlier cartoon shows, Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear and Quickdraw McGraw.
Fred and Wilma Flintstone and their pals, Barney and Betty Rubble, live in the town of Bedrock, 250 feet below sea level.
Fred works as a dino (dinosaur-powered crane) operator for the Rock Head and Quarry corporation. Fred and Barney even belong to the YCMA (Young Caveman’s association), they go to the dinosaur races, and they have sports cars with stone wheels. The slogan of their construction company is “Feel secure — own your own cave.”
Bedrock boasts all the advantages of urban life, including a butcher, baker, and pizza pie maker. And they even have a newspaper, the Bedrock Bugle, which is chiseled on a stone slab.
Fred is a sort of early Fibber McGee, with the shape of Jackie Gleason. Wilma’s the Audrey Meadows type. But they’re also like Lucy and Desi. And sometimes there are ” undertones” of Laurel and Hardy. They have a paleolithic piano which, of course, is a Stoneway.
Though they are proud of Bedrock, they are also impressed with the glamour of Hollyrock. They like movies, and their favorites are Cary Granite and Rock Pile.
They can differentiate between a dinosaur’s cough and a brontosaurus’ mating call. They can light a cigar by rubbing sticks together, and they have something to replace credit cards — money.
Four of the most versatile vocal gymnasts of the radio heyday provide the voices of the major characters, as well as lesser people.
They are Alan Reed (Fred), who used to read poetry as Falstaff Openshaw on the old Fred Allen series; Jean Vander Pyl (Wilma), who played many roles; Bea Benadaret (Betty) of the Fibber McGee series, and Mel Blanc (Barney), of the Jack Benny show and many others. Perhaps the most versatile voice man in all Hollywood, Blane has been laid up with two broken legs incurred in an auto accident.
They also play other “stony ” characters. Among these are Joe Rockhead, chief of the fire department in Cobblestone county: Perry Gunnite, a detective so tough that he drinks “rocks on the rocks” and he drinks it by the quartz; Arthur McQuarry, proprietor of the local dance studio, and Pebble Bleach, a blonde with an enticing giggle.
Even the music runs along the same (hard) lines.
“I don’t know what we would’ve done without rock ‘n’ roll.” said Barbera. “If it didn’t already exist, we would have had to invent it.”
Fred himself has been hired as a singer. He wears very thick glasses and his favorite number is “Listen to the Rocking Bird.”
Fred’s favorite announcer also fits the paleolithic mood.
Hanna and Barbera, who have become the most famous animation experts since Walt Disney, achieved their phenomenal success in four short years.
They decided to go into a situation comedy series after ratings indicated that a big percentage of the viewers of Ruff ‘n’ Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw, and Yogi were adults. They settled on a satire on some of the zanier aspects of modern life.
But why a stone age milieu? They experimented with various modern settings but every time they tried to create a cartoon man and woman in modern dress “they came out looking like those TV commercials.”
But the minute they dressed them in lion skins and let Fred carry a stone age club, they got chuckles. So they decided to go stone age.
It was a “hard” decision, but one that is paying off.
Barbera and Hanna used to do Tom and Jerry cartoons for M-G-M, but during the dour days of the movies, they were dumped. That was in 1957.
They developed a new and much less costly way of cartooning but even so they could interest no one. They might have gone out and got “stoned,” but they decided to form their own company. It was a success from the start. That is, Ruff ‘n’ Reddy caught on quickly. Huckleberry Hound was a sensation.
And now the Flintstones are rolling and gathering no moss. The two are already the world’s biggest cartoon company, with an income of $3,500,000 last year, and $20,000,000 in prospect this year from merchandising sales.
“Meet the Flintstones” opening & closing credits with theme song
Flintstones theme song lyrics (opening)
Flintstones — meet the Flintstones, They’re a modern stone age family.
From the town of Bedrock, They’re a page right out of history.
Let’s ride with the family down the street, through the courtesy of Fred’s two feet.
When you’re with the Flintstones, have a yabba dabba doo time, a dabba doo time, we’ll have a gay old time!
Flintstones theme song lyrics (closing)
Flintstones — meet the Flintstones They’re a modern stone-age family.
Come on, down to Bedrock. It’s a place right out of history.
Someday, maybe Fred will win the fight, and the cat will stay out for the night.
When you’re with the Flintstones Have a yabba dabba-doo time A dabba-doo time We’ll have a gay old time!
About that theme song – and the TV show’s musical themes (1961)
From The Boston Globe (Massachusetts) May 28, 1961
Music lovers: Do you detect the Wagnerian motif in the cartoon series, “The Flintstones”?
Musicman Hoyt Curtin, 38, put it in. As musical director for the cartoon favorite, Curtin believes this is the first time in any TV series that the Wagnerian approach has been applied so extensively to a score.
“For the devout, this is known as theming the characters. In other words, each main character has his own theme. This is then orchestrated and handled to fit the situation as it occurs. Each theme is woven into the musical pattern as a character identifying tag,” says Curtin.
The characters in the ABC cartoon strip include Wilma and Fred Flintstone and Betty and Barney Rubble. Each week, they cavort through a series of hilarious adventures in Stone Age Suburbia.
Bea Benadaret and Mel Blanc, top entertainers in their own right, provide the voices for Betty and Barney. Jean Vander Pyl and Alan Reed are the voices behind Wilma and Fred.
“The old ‘Dum-de-dum-dum’ theme of Dragnet and the Wyatt Earp music used some of the same technique,” Curtin commented. “But there is a tendency these days to score TV shows even closer to main characters. This may be common practice in the near future,” he added.
Curtin works 60 hours a week at this sort of thing — applying music to characters. He has won an Emmy for “Huckleberry Hound” and an Oscar for “Magoo Flew.”
Twenty-two bandsmen are used for the music work on “The Flintstones.” Some have come from the hot jazz cliques, such as Buddy Cole, Nick Fatool and Pete Candoli.
“We seek brightness in sound,” says Curtin, who received a Master’s Degree in composition at the University of Southern California in 1947.
For the men in the show — Fred and Barney — the dominant instrument is a bass clarinet. For the women — Wilma and Betty — it’s woodwinds.
Picking the music and instrument to fit the character and situation of a Flintstone episode can be trying at times.
“After all, you have to figure out what kind of music does a caveman play? We decided it couldn’t be progressive jazz and not the sound of the ’20s, or Glenn Miller. Anything dated is out,” concluded Curtin.
Pebbles and Bamm Bamm’s smash hit: “Let The Sunshine In” (1965)
Open up your heart… and let the sun shine in. Can 40 million viewers be wrong? Hanna-Barbera Records
In color! When the Flintstones joined NBC Saturday morning lineup (1966)
From The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois) – November 5, 1966
“The Flintstones,” a half-hour color cartoon series spotlighting life in the Stone Age, will join the NBC-TV Network’s Saturday morning program schedule on Jan. 7, 1967 in the 9 to 9:30 am. time period on Channel 6.
“The Flintstones” is set in the prehistoric suburb of Bedrock, the home of Fred and Wilma Flintstone, their daughter Pebbles, and the family’s pet dinosaur, Dino. Barney and Betty Rubble, the Flintstones’ next-door neighbors, join Fred and Wilma in a series of adventures and misadventures back in the days when dinosaurs on the roads caused traffic jams, and men walked softly but carried big clubs.
Character voices for “The Flintstones” are performed by Alan Reed (Fred), Jean Vander Pyl (Wilma), Mel Blanc (Barney) and Bea Benadaret (Betty).
The Flintstones in 1975
Thanks to some TV-style magic, here you can see that by the time Pebbles should have been 12 years old, she was neither. There were, in fact, young and old versions of Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles, plus four more animal friends: Wooly, Baby Puss, Snoots and Hoppy.