THE FLINTSTONESOriginal Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1960
Creator: Dan Gordon
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The creation of The Flintstones is generally credited to Hanna-Barbera storyboard artist Dan Gordon (Cookie), but the show has two important
forebears. One is the ancient sitcom The Honeymooners, which provided a model for the major characters and their relationships. The other is an even more ancient cartoon series — "Stone Age Cartoons", which the Fleischer Studio (home of Popeye and Betty Boop) produced for a brief period, and which anticipated by about 20 years the idea of having prehistoric animals substitute for 20th-century machinery.
Be that as it may, the "modern stone-age family" (Fred and Wilma — and later Pebbles — Flintstone) and their friends and neighbors (Barney and Betty — and later Bamm-Bamm — Rubble) debuted on ABC in 1960, and have been a part of the animation scene ever since. The voice actor who did Fred was Alan Reed (also Dum Dum in Touché Turtle). Jean VanderPyl (Rosie the Robot in The Jetsons) was Wilma and Pebbles, Mel Blanc (Speedy Gonzales, among others) was Barney, Bea Benaderet (Looney Tunes' Maw Bear) was Betty, and Don Messick (Scooby-Doo) was Bamm-Bamm.
The Flintstones was television's first successful prime-time animated series, pre-dating The Simpsons by nearly three decades. It sparked a brief fad of prime-time animation, most of which also followed its lead in being based on old sitcoms. For example, Calvin & the Colonel was very similar to Amos and Andy, and Top Cat was virtually a clone of Sgt. Bilko.
Unlike its imitators, The Flintsones had staying power. The original series lasted six seasons, and when it finally went off the air, the characters immediately went into a feature film, The Man Called Flintstone (1966). Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, featuring the Flintstones' and Rubbles' babies, debuted in 1971 — the first of many post-series Flintstones sppearances. And from that day to this, it's been one series, special, or feature-length movie after another. Spin-offs include, but are far from limited to, Captain Caveman, Dino & the Cave Mouse (1980-82 — the last work of the great Tex Avery, with the possible exception of Kwicky Koala), the comic book Cave Kids (1963-67) and its later animated counterpart, and even Fred & Barney Meet the Shmoo (1979-80 — in which they're paired with creatures from Al Capp's Li'l Abner), They met The Jetsons in a 1987 TV movie; and in '94 John Goodman starred as Fred with Rick Moranis as Barney, in a live-action version for theatrical release. A sequel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, was made in 2000. During the few periods in which no Flintstones series was airing, the characters still appeared regularly on network TV, in commercials for one product or another — some of which, for example Cocoa Pebbles cereal, were actually named for them.
As their screen career went, so went their career in comics. Since their first appearance in that medium, published by Dell Comics in 1961, they've seldom been out of print. Other publishers of Flintstones comics include Gold Key, Charlton, Marvel, Harvey and Archie — some of which published two or more series simultaneously. Later. DC published them occasionally as part of their Cartoon Network lineup. During the 1960s, the characters also appeared in a newspaper comic strip.
The Flintstones was not only television's first prime-time animated series — it's also the first animated TV series that really hit it big. And after all these years, it shows no sign of slowing down.