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How They Made ‘The Flintstones’: 15 Unpublished Photos

In November 1960, LIFE magazine published an article about the breakout success of Hanna-Barbera’s seminal primetime animated series The Flintstones. The piece featured three photos of the studio, but what they didn’t publish is even more amazing. Photographer Allan Grant took 850 photographs for the magazine assignment, documenting every part of the studio’s operations. Remarkably, all of those photos are now available to view online in the LIFE Photo Collection.

Grant chose about twenty scenes to document, so there are dozens of slightly-varied photos of the same people and scenarios. Nevertheless, the images offer a revealing look at Hanna-Barbera just before it became the largest animation outfit in the world. It’s positively refreshing to see the two bosses—Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera—assuming such hands-on roles in their productions. Hanna and Barbera understood every step of the animation process inside-out, thanks to nearly two decades of creating Tom & Jerry theatrical shorts at MGM, and during the early years of their own company, they were deeply involved to ensure a consistent final product. These photos are a tribute to their professionalism and expertise in creating memorable animated characters that are still beloved by audiences half a century later.

Here are some of the highlights from the LIFE collection. Click on any image to enlarge:

An inker working on an unpainted Fred Flintstone cel.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound soap containers being manufactured at a Los Angeles factory.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Bill Hanna overseeing a music recording session.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Mel Blanc (left) and Alan Reed recording the voices of Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone, respectively.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Joe Barbera relaxing poolside with his family at home.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
A story meeting. Standing, left to right: Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna, Warren Foster. Seated, l. to r.: Dan Gordon, Alan Dinehart, unidentified, Michael Maltese, Alex Lovy. (Thanks, Yowp, for further idents.)
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Joe Barbera at a “Flintstones” voice recording session with Mel Blanc, Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl and Bea Benaderet.
Joe Barbera at a "Flintstones" voice recording session with Mel Blanc, Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl and Bea Benaderet.
Blow dryers used to be an animation production tool.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Joe Barbera’s secretary Maggie Roberts reading something to him.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Cameraman (possibly Frank Paiker) shooting Flintstones cels under the camera. (Thanks, Yowp, for the ident.)
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
An inker working from home.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Bill Hanna grilling steaks for his family.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Animator Carlo Vinci acting out a scene.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
Even in the early years, the studio made more than one show at a time. Here, Joe Barbera (right) reviews concept artwork for Touché Turtle, most of which appear to have been drawn by Ed Benedict.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’
The studio’s bowling team “The Yogi Bears” heading out for a match.
How They Made ‘The Flintstones’

UPDATE: For further analysis of photos from the LIFE collection, the fantastic Hanna-Barbera blog Yowp has done a follow-up post that is well worth reading.

  • Jack Rabbit

    Ha ha…..it looks like they drew on a fresh brand new blackboard never before used.

  • Yowp

    The two guys in the left of the storyboard meeting are Dan Gordon and Dalton Sandifer.
    It looks like they’re discussing the Hairbrain Hare and Lippy the Lion shows. Hairbrain kind of morphed into Touche Turtle (I have a blog post on all this next Tuesday).
    I think the cameraman is Frank Paiker; the other camera guys at the studio then were fairly young.

    Thanks for posting these, Amid.

    • AmidAmidi

      Thanks, Yowp! I’ve updated the piece with your idents.

  • Guest-a-mate

    Wow!! These are really something! Great post!

  • …maybe they could do a Mad Men version for the animation industry. That would’ve been something to see. lol

    These are amazing photographs, to see the history behind one of the great animation studios during its era. Seriously though, it’d be nice to have a film be made about these guys and getting their success on screen. Thanks for the share Amid!

    • Gilf Milferson

      They did a TV show way, way back called ‘Duck Soup’ about a young animator who goes to LA to help save his uncles failing animation company… the star was Jim Carrey!

      • Richard Freeman Eze


    • Mary Jane Kelly

      That’s a splendid idea!

  • MrMackle

    Great photos. I’ve got one of those Yogi Bears on my shelf..but its a money box.

  • Goat

    It’s like they reached into my brain and pulled out images that represent the fictional “awesome workplace” that’s been bouncing around in there for decades. So great. Thank you for posting these!

  • Sam Kujava

    They DID do a Mad Men version of the animation industry…sort of. It was called The Duck Factory and it was the first starring role for Jim Carrey. Unfortunately for a sitcom about animation, it wasn’t all that funny.

  • AmidAmidi

    Thanks again! Also updated with a link to your post about the pics. Really fun to learn more about these pics!

  • AmidAmidi

    Judging by some of the other photos in the collection, it appears to be an ink-and-paint studio that was run out of a home, because there are other women working in there too.

    • Ray Pointer

      I understand that since there was so much work they couldn’t do it all in house and farmed a lot of it out like that. What’s interesting is that there seem to be more behind the scenes photos covering THE FLINTSTONES and very little if anything on TOP CAT AND THE JETSONS.

    • John Vinci

      A lot of women from the Disney Ink and Paint Department actually left Disney because Hanna Barbera gave them the option to work from home if they wanted to.

      • Wayne Jimmy Bryan

        John, would I be incorrect to suggest you are related to the great Carlo Vinci?

  • JT

    The camera is rotated in the wrong direction for what is being shot, unless the show was shot in Vistavision.

    • Uli Meyer

      Vertical VistaVision? Rostrum cameras had side mounted ‘Mickey Mouse ears’ for easy reach.
      I love those old rostrums. We used to have one and when everything went digital, we couldn’t give it away…

  • Ray Pointer

    That was an odd show, and frankly a bit depressing.

  • Pudleiner

    Great Post Amid :-)

    It’s great seeing this history.

  • Janie Palubin

    Back when cartoons were funny.

  • John Vinci

    Thank you for this!!!

  • MaskedManAICN

    too cool :)

  • Wayne Jimmy Bryan

    Like many, the photos invoked thoughts of Mad Men. By many accounts, Joe Barbera was the Don Draper of cartoon business back then. While I’m sure some of photos were staged I really get feeling it was labour of love for people who worked on those early Hanna-Barbera shows. You gotta love pics of those ladies at home in their kitchen or bedroom inking and painting cels which were to become part of so many people youth and adult hood. Too often HB cartoons were unfairly compared to Disney when in fact they should be measured up against the classic TV (animated or live action) shows of the era. For my money, The Flintstones, Top Cat, The Jetson’s and Jonny Quest more than measured up because here we are discussing them 50 years later.

  • DarlieB

    Oh god I love this!

  • I often think a Mad Men take on an animation studio in the mid 20th Century would be kind of interesting if it showed such challenges between the ‘old guard’ who got their starts in the 1920’s and 30’s to the young upstarts who try to find their way through the door to whatever possible dream that seemed far away from the realities of their time.

  • Wow! This is truly amazing!

  • DBreneman

    I remember those shampoo bottles. They were marketed by Avon.

  • Mac

    Odd that when taken to the Google Cultural Website,the photos are listed under “hanna-barbara”.Spelling “hanna-barbera” correctly yields only one image.

  • I’m just guessing but isn’t that John Stephenson (Mr. Slate and numerous Scooby Doo villains), seated with his back to the camera, to the right of Mel Blanc, in the recording session picture at the top? It certainly looks like him.