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“The Flintstones” turn 50

The first episode aired on ABC on September 30th 1960. Yup, The Flintstones turn the big five-o today. Everyone should sing Happy Anniversary to the tune of The William Tell Overture.

The image above was featured on Google all day. I really respect artist Mike Dutton but they should have gotten Scott Shaw, Pat Owsley, Marc Christiansen, John K… or quite frankly, anybody else to draw this tribute. Someone with some passion for the characters.

There have been many Flintstone articles posted on the web this week to commemorate this event – but the stupidest one I’ve seen was posted by The Christian Science Monitor: The Five Dumbest Moments on The Flintstones.

Here’s what they came up with:

5. The Flintstones Smoked – We know, we know. Everyone did back then.
4. The Great Gazoo – On the one hand I totally understand the hate for Gazoo, on the other hand he was a cool green space man who invented a doomsday machine!
3. Dinosaurs in The Flintstones – They are arguing science? It’s a cartoon!
2. The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show – I actually liked this spin-off. And Sally Struthers and Jay North seemed the right choice for the voices.
1. Sexism in The Flintstones – It was the 60s. The Madmen era. This show was portraying life in the Stone Age. Give me a break.

As usual, there’s the assumption on the writer’s part that cartoons are strictly kids stuff. What they really missed was the fact that The Flintstones was the first primetime animated sitcom, created to appeal adults and kids. And it’s done just that for exactly fifty years on the dot.

Congratulations, Fred and Barney… have a cold one on me:

(Thanks, Art Binninger)

  • Thanks, Jerry. Mike Kazaleh and I did do the 30th anniversary animated logo (through Playhouse Pictures).


    I agree about the Google tribute. I wish they’d hired someone who really knew how to draw the characters and especially Bedrock. “Google” is rather vaguely shown here, and the illustration certainly could have been a gag. Here, the characters were derived from a fairly recent publicity drawing and the buildings are painted like circus tents…and the one on the right side looks more like something from the Far East! Oh well, at least they acknowledged the anniversary more than Warner Bros. did; it treats the Flintstones like it was a dead property, even while it still provides a sizable income direct to WB’s corporate coffers.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      We should at least feel grateful for that, that at least those outside of WB otherwise didn’t forget. Really, this day could’ve passed by without a peep out of nobody (except the fans).

    • I definitely respect the feedback, Scott, and it would have been a great opportunity to work with a guest artist. However, as mentioned, the important thing is people loved seeing it, and it directed to the (higher quality) real thing. I’m sorry if the artwork offended in any way. It definitely wasn’t meant to.

    • Hey Scott, I knew it would be a bad idea for me to step into an animation forum to read what the technical folks thought of my doodle! But you know, I respect your feedback and while I agree that I’m not a Flintstones expert, I feel the doodle was a job well done and it also served its purpose — it got (millions of) people excited about the Flintstones again. They then had the option of clicking through and watching videos or stills of the Flintstones (drawn by the pros)… Obviously, as an artist judging his own work, I will agree things could have been executed better regardless of how proud I am of the results. To me, yeah, it’s maybe a little bit cereal box-ish in terms of style, but ah well.

      Also sorry to the other commenter who thinks the Google logos are “getting tackier”. I wholeheartedly disagree, but definitely respect your opinion about our work, though I hope that improves with time. :)

  • Christopher Cook

    Personally, I thought “The Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm Show” was rather cutesy but it was better than “Flintstone Kids.”

    • Funkybat

      The secondary characters on the “Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm Show” were more interesting than the ones in “Flintstones Kids.” Also, teenaged Pebbles is a lot more interesting to watch than 10 year old Fred! I actually find Flintstones Kids to be a pretty forgettable series. Still better than “Yo Yogi” though…

      For all of its animation & continuity inconsistency, “A Pup Named Scooby Doo” is the only one of these “kid version of old characters” shows from H-B that I liked. I think it was the first time they really had fun mocking the conventions of the Scooby Doo world while using those same characters. That’s now become standard operating procedure for any of the Scooby properties.

  • Happy 50th, Fred. And Barney, too!

  • The full Busch industrial reel is here: http://www.milkandcookies.com/link/68368/detail/

    Gerry Mohr is narrating; John Stephenson may be the only voice guy on it who is still around.

    I’ll take a pass on Gazoo and any cartoon with a coach’s whistle in the theme song. But any cartoon with Mike Maltese “anniversary” lyrics, a guy named 88 Fingers Louie and Frank Nelson as a piano store clerk can’t be all bad.

  • s.w.a.c.

    When I was five or six, I loved the Great Gazoo. I remember imitating Harvey Korman’s voice and the greeting, “Hello, dum-dum.” My parents hated it, but I thought it was hilarious.

    Besides, we all know Gazoo and his ilk built the pyramids… ;)

  • The Flintstones is still one of my favorite cartoons, and I still watch it on occasion (being fortunate enough to actually get Boomerang on my cable lineup).

    I also thought “Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm” was OK. Gazoo didn’t bother me as it did others, but can see why others consider him a shark-jumping moment…

    Re: the Google drawing: still wonder why Bamm-Bamm was on the car’s roof when there was room in the back seat with his parents. The crudities of primitive motoring? ;-)

  • So, the fact that there were dinosaurs on the show is a problem, but not that the Flintstones celebrate Christmas, even though it won’t exist for another number of years.

    • Vzk

      Perhaps they were celebrating the birth of Raptor Jesus?

  • I fully believe THE FLINTSTONES is largely responsible for people’s irrational belief that people and dinosaurs co-existed… and that dinosaurs make for great pets, too.

  • Mark Morgan

    I think the basic problem of Gazoo is that he added a science fiction premise to what was basically a character driven sitcom. He was new and different and after he appeared the show was not nearly as grounded and it did get very silly (not that the Flintstones wasn’t silly to begin with, but there are several degrees of silliness and the Gazoo took them to new depths.)

    However, was Gazoo a bad character? I mean, has anyone ever tried to divorce him from the rest of the show and just look him over? His design isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s not bad. He’s not ugly to look at. Is he unfunny? You’re kidding right? They guy’s hilarious. Let’s check the voice actor … Harvey Korman? Ah, heck yes! How can you not love someone who’s named after a kiddie comics company!

    I like Gazoo. Rather than look at him as a setback, I appreciate him for what he was, a way to explore new stories after so many seasons on the air had depleted the creator’s plot ideas. Heck, now I find myself wishing they had written him into the last season of King of the Hill! Imagine it! Dale Gribble and the Great Gazoo! Was there ever a more perfect match?

    I also appreciate the “Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show” in the fact that it was an original way to revisit the characters without doing a remake of the classic series. It was a new take on an old idea and while it can hardly hold a candle to the original, it was still a fun show for what it was worth … in a cheesy Saturday Morning cartoon kind of way.

    • Funkybat

      Interesting to see so many comments about The Great Gazoo. I had almost forgotten about him, even though I remember seeing a lot of episodes involving him when I was a kid. The elements of The Flintstones the stand out to me today revolve more around the core characters and the kinds of situations typical to the early episodes.

      I can certain see the appearance of Gazoo as a “jump the shark” point for the show, but I don’t really think the original series ever really fell flat. I would say the late 70s kiddified versions were where things went of the rails. And like many people here, I enjoyed the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show for what it was. I’m actually kind of surprised to not see any rants about how it was a “desecration to the original” etc. etc. I’m glad to see most other people remember it fondly. I guess people’s opinions of H-B spinoffs are more passionate when it comes to Scooby Doo than The Flintstones.

  • Carl

    Who really cares? The Flinstones was always a dull and cheap cartoon, serving up old bits from The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy.

    • Scarabim

      Yeah, but the voice cast was top-notch.

      • David Breneman

        H-B had good audio across the board. Voices, effects and music. That was to compensate for the cheap (as opposed to creative) limited animation. They were the “radio show accompanied by a Powerpoint presentation” studio, after all.

  • It really bugged me, how off-model the Google doodle was. It’s not like there aren’t a dozen cartoonists on the internet who could have come up with an on-model Flintstones gag drawing. Scott Shaw has drawn the characters enough that he could probably have knocked a drawing out in his sleep.

    • Those Google drawings seem to get vaguer and tackier each time.

  • Mark McD

    One aspect that is never mentioned is that in “Flintstone Kids,” Freddy and Wilma had black friends. When they grew up, they appeared to have moved into a more “restricted” part of Bedrock. ;^)

    Agree about the annoying “Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm” theme song. Not to mention how times they tried to work the word “gro-o-o-ovy” into the series. Folks, the 60s were over by then.

    I thought maybe Bamm-Bamm on the car roof was a nod to him and Pebbles sitting on Dino’s head to watch a drive-in movie in the familiar opening sequence. Then I wondered what all the suit cases were for.

    Our local news station had a Flintstones-themed quiz question yesterday: “What kind of an animal was the Flinstones’ pet?” Their answer was “dinosaur.” Wonder if they’d have counted someone wrong if he’d have given the correct answer of “a Snorkasaurus” (who talked in his debut episode).

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Lord knows I’d be pissed if I get that wrong even if I said it was a Snorkasaurus and had to have a big discussion about that with the heads over there like some irritated fanboy with needs to get out in the sun more!

    • I don’t consider the Dino in “The Snorkasaurus Hunter” to be the ‘official’ Dino, just a way for The Flintstones to get in a Phil Silvers impersonation. Also, Dino’s debut was in the fourth episode, “No Help Wanted.”

      I should point out that I’m not anal over H-B cartoons, or else I’d question why Quick Draw McGraw can hold a gun and point despite not having an obvious hand.

  • Torsten

    Happy birthday, Fred & Barney, Wilma & Betty, you were and still are great!

  • Russell H

    I was reminded by the recent death of Tony Curtis (“Stony Curtis”) that, decades before THE SIMPSONS, THE FLINTSTONES invented stunt-casting in animated TV cartoons.

    • David Breneman

      Back in the 60s, when any show was in trouble, they brought in celebrity cameos. “I Love Lucy” started that, didn’t they?

      • Funkybat

        Yeah, except in the case of the Flintstones, they did it while their ratings were good. Same thing with The Simpsons. I would say it’s more often live action where stars are brought in as a ratings-boosting “stunt.” In animated shows, it’s just as much about the comedy potential of turning them into a cartoon and having them interact with the toon “stars” as it is about ratings…

  • yabadabadooooooooooooooooooooooo

  • crazy?yabadabadooo

  • Michael F.

    I am not a fan but I am willing to forgive those five things the CSM listed. Besides, there were lots of shows back then that were just as implausible (Bewitched, Mr. Ed, I Dream of Jeannie….My Mother the Car, anyone?)

    Also, the Google logo was pretty neat but my favorite is still the playable Pacman logo.

  • Justin M. Durden

    I still don’t see the “e”.

  • Robert Barker

    I had a Marx Toys Flintstone playset with all the houses and characters and stars of the show. I had more fun playing with it than watching the show, which was just a tired sitcom in disguise. With canned laughter!

  • The Gee

    When I went through that period of When I Was So Much Older Then, “The Flintstones” and other HB shows from the 60s were lackluster in comparison to what I thought they should have been.

    But, thank God that period of life doesn’t last very long.

    It is a good show. All of the aspects of it which could be easily dissed aren’t exactly things which could also cause the downfall of civilization as we know it. The cycling backgrounds don’t matter because the city of Bedrock was never really completely defined. It isn’t like what was eventually developed with “The Simpsons” where there is essentially a map of the town.

    The Great Gazoo. That little, big-noggined alien lives up to his name. It is a great character. Think about it: it pretty much came out of nowhere and only Fred could see it. And, Fred interacted with it for comedic purposes. There is some weird melancholy aspect to that relationship. The fact that is is so disjointed, so absurd, is like icing on a cake. The entire show’s concept was always a little bit off. And, there’s nothing wrong with that because it is a cartoon.

    The canned laughter. Well, why not? It was in primetime during the 60s. Like Scarabim mentioned, the Voice Acting was really good. One of the great things about the show is that the characters had distinct laughs. Those laughs were perfect for the characters and in animated cartoons to have the characters laughing is rare. Why that is, I dunno. But, it was additive. It was a good thing.

    An aspect that is probably taken for granted is that the show, in trying to demonstrate just how modern the society was in the Stone Age, was quite inventive. The appliances and gizmos that they used to make life easier were rather clever. You don’t see that much if ever in any cartoons these days. And, almost all of the concepts they used were funny.

    As for the subsequent adventures of Fred and Barney and Pebbles and BamBam….enh. H-B sure milked the property. But, if it is a cash cow, why shouldn’t it be milked?

    I’d take a primetime Flintstones with all of its quirks even if it ran out of ideas after several years over any primetime cartoon that tries to be more of an over-the-top live action sitcom than a cartoon. It was a well written show where all of the talent that went into showed though because it was well-rounded. Simple sometimes, cliched other times but it was a good package.

  • benhamen

    I need backup regarding an urban legend quite common in Hungary. It calims that the hungarian translation (done by a famous poet called József Romhányi)of The Flintstones was so unique, that the series was redubbed in the States according to that translation. What is so special that it is written genially in poem, using word play, rhimes, etc. I can easily imagine that it’s simply made up by the proud hungarian fanatics, sill, i haven’t found anything to prove or confute the theory.
    Anyvay…Happy anniversary!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Either way, that’s quite a creative urban legend if I ever heard of one!

  • Fran

    Old enough to remember the initial commercials for the then-new Flintstones show, which were run during the program of Harveytoons also shown on ABC Friday nights. I believe the word “refreshing” may have spoken by the voiceover announcer, since the cartoon was being touted as something completely different in network programming.

    Did anybody else who watched the Busch beer film notice that it seems Barney’s voice inadvertently came out of Fred’s mouth briefly, about halfway through?

  • Jorge Garrido

    Still the best adult animated sitcom ever.

  • Andyman

    I always thought “The Great Gazoo” was H/B ripping off “My Favorite Martian”. Not that they ever did such things, mind you…

  • Andyman

    And one more thing – the voice-work on all of H/B’s early shows was outstanding. Not to diss the very talented group of 10-20 actors who seem to voice everything nowadays, but there was a diversity and a warmth back then that is lacking today. Or is it just me?

    • The Gee

      On your comment about Gazoo…that’s probably the most likely influence. For a show which pretty much ripped off “The Honeymooners” that wouldn’t be surprising to find out that it was intentional.

      (The thing is, in my opinion, the Flintstones sorta pushed The Honeymooners back into the corner of being a ( very good ) televised stage play. It one upped what influenced it. in my opinion.)

      As for the voices…”warmth” is a good word for it. I ain’t good at describing sound but that word and “rounded” and “bellow” and “bouncy” come to mind when I think of some of the voice actors who worked in cartoons of that era. Again, think of the laughs of the four main characters. They were “real” funny laughs which worked for each character.

      The voice acting is definitely better than some of these newer shows where characters’ voices are virtually indistinguishable from the voices in commercials.

  • To be fair, Chris Gaylord is a technology editor for CSM. The arts aren’t his main gig, so I allow him his assumptions.

    Gaylord brings up the issue of Flintstones spinoffs. The Flintstones was once almost on par with its volume of spinoffs as Scooby-Doo. Remember Fred and Barney Meet the Thing?

    Odd thing is, Scooby-Doo keeps going, while The Flintstones has been left alone for several years. For all its sitcom trappings, The Flintstones is more imaginative than a bunch of kids and their magic dog unmasking people in monster suits.

  • An inspiration to many and it will always be a classy show in my heart – Happy Aniversary!!

    Incidentally, If i werent for all the articles being written on this subject – I never would have learned about THE BLACKSTONES

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3045296012/

    Crazy – some things are better left to the imagination

  • James E. Parten

    Andyman has a point, although I would think that “ripoff” is a trifle strong a word there.

    Television of that time was full of shows with fantastic premises. Besides “My Favorite Martian” (which was later adapted into a Saturday morning cartoon, and became plural in the process), there was “I Dream Of Jeannie” (also adapted later into kiddie fodder), “My Living Doll” (featuring Miss Statuesque herself, Julie Newmar), and “Mr. Ed”. Also, reruns of the old 1950’s version of “Topper” were still unspooling on local stations across the country.

    So, it makes sense that H-B’s writers would see which way the wind was blowing. Had the show lasted a season more, they would surely have had their “Batman” spoof, just as they had already done at least one super-spy spoof episode (and were working on “The Man Called Flintstone”).

  • Joe did an interview with a Contra County Cal. paper many years ago, in connection with an exhibit of Flintstones artwork, that Fred & Barney were more influenced by Laurel & Hardy’s movies in which they were henpecked husbands, most notably “Sons of the Desert.”

    That “Blackstones” piece is astonishing, if Joe’s claim that wanted to introduce them in 1967 as Fred’s new neighbors is true, that’s even more astonishing. The fact that ABC balked and H-B introduced the “Gruesomes” instead is par for the course on network TV.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Still, it’s a shame they didn’t go further on that, further breaking down the cartoon barriers for equal rights in Bedrock!

  • That was an annoying trend I found in ever single article and newspaper I read where it mention the Flintstones turned fifty. It’s not a kids cartoon people.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Back in the 50’s everyone knew beer and cigarettes and steak for breakfast lunch and dinner cured cancer ( and probably AIDS if it existed back then )

  • Andyman

    @Chris – WOW! Thanks! I had heard of “The Blackstones” but never saw any concept art. Looks like a mid-70’s H/B “take” (as opposed to “rip-off”) on “The Jeffersons”. @Mark – 1967? I don’t think so. Joe B. was full of sh*t more often than not. That’s what made him a great salesman.

    • Funkybat

      The style of character design, as well as the font treatment on the name, definitely feel more like early-to-mid 70s than mid-to-late 60s to me. Given H-B’s penchant for hopping onto trendy bandwagons, I would be surprised if this was created before either Good Times or The Jeffersons premiered.

  • Funkybat

    I’m frankly puzzled by Wb’s apparent disinterest,if not active supression, of any kind of 50th anniversary hoopla about The Flintstones. Like others here, it’s gratifying to see other media outlets and Google commemorate them, but it seems like no one back at corporate has any interest.

    I remember there being quite a revival of Flintstones-related properties in the early-to-mid 90s, and even the “new” 50s-style character designs pushed in the late 90s. Then….nothing. It was as if they had become Unpersons according to HB/Cartoon Network.

    I’m sure some of that was to draw a line between old HB and the new era of CN, but if Scooby Doo can still put butts in the seats, why not everyone’s favorite stone-age family? If it were the Jetsons, I might understand it. After all, we are now living in the “future” that they supposedly inhabited. I guess WB just doesn’t want to spread their properties too thin. With the various new Scooby properties, and now a CG Yogi bear film, they may just want to keep The Flintstones in their quiver for later use.

    • Eli

      I was kind of surprised myself. Usually, the 50th anniversary of a show is one of the biggest events in the entertainment industry. I thought that ofr such an important show, they would pull out all the stops as it were. But… I guess the unexpected happened.

      Personally, I would have liked if, for old times sake, that they would have aired the first episode on its debut date on ABC. It would have been such a novelty to see it all come full circle; to see The Flintstones, as famous as ever, air again on its original network. Oh well, maybe we can try that another year.

      I personally think that Cartoon Network (and WB) were surpressing the hoopla to save themselves some humiliation. Look at most of the programs they have on now. For example, there is one named “MAD”, a show which that I find devoid of all artistic ability and creativity. At least with The Flintstones, (even though, like MAD, it has limited animation) there was a certain charm and beauty in the drawings (especially the early episodes), while with MAD, I don’t find that whatsoever. In conclusion, if the Flintstones were to have side by side with MAD, its ratings would drop faster than a meteor to the ground.

  • Martin Juneau

    The Flintstones was one of the first cartoons franchise to be dubbed in french by Quebec voice artists and with The Simpsons, they did some of the most memorable voices who beat the original voice cast (Tough i like the original casting, they lacking personality from seasons.). Besides to be dubbed in Quebecois, they do it by respect of their language which the modern dubbings don’t since it’s now corporated by Teletoon Canada.

    I agree that WB now call Flintstones like a dead franchise. Perhaps it’s time that some artists who really like it take control of this series? Along with the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Shout Factory can did the job better than Warner now.

  • 50 years later and still so popular!

  • mandi witt

    so…sexism in the flinstones can still be valid. no matter what era is trying to be portrayed, the show was still being put together in the ’60s, which means that they had the traditional way of thinking and probably transferred that to the show. the show is basically a family living in the stone age…but when the creators all live in the’60s, the way their families work is just transferred to a time where there are dinasours. there were no cars in the time of cave people, yet there are cars in the show. and they don’t even live in caves!!

  • Steve Carras

    The Gazoo and Pebbles-Bamm Bamm babies singing and other Season 6 episodes must have really also pushed ABC and H-B and Columbia;s buttons, as they didn’t appear in the mid 60s to very early 70s syndication until around 1971…:)