Classic

How They Made ‘The Flintstones’: 15 Unpublished Photos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.