History of The Flintstones

This iconic and groundbreaking series began entertaining television audiences on September 30th, 1960. Created by Hanna-Barbera's legendary productions studio, it proved that an animated series could conquer prime time with a perfect mix of satire and slapstick. Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look back at the town of Bedrock, its lovable characters, and the storied creation of "The Flintstones."
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History of The Flintstones

They’re your modern stone-age family! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be exploring the history of The Flintstones.

The iconic and groundbreaking series “The Flintstones” began entertaining television audiences on September 30th, 1960. Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, it was produced by their legendary Hanna-Barbera productions studio. During its six-season run, the show proved that an animated series could conquer prime time.

The show was originally titled “The Flagstones;” however, a copyright claim from an existing strip caused the creators to change its name to the iconic title we know today.

“The Flintstones” became the first animated program to include one self-contained story during the half-hour runtime. Up to that point, animated shows were made of multiple segments. With this revolutionary focus and the intensive release schedule, the studio was forced to develop an assembly-line form of production based on simplified drawings and reduced body movements. This helped form the show’s distinct style.

“The Flintstones” took place in the city of Bedrock, and was centered on modern prehistoric working-class life. Fred and Barney were often seen at the bowling alley, held memberships at the Water Buffalo Lodge, and were usually participating in outrageous schemes that always resulted in trouble from their wives.

The town of Bedrock itself was a stylish and fantasy-based interpretation of the past. It merged long-extinct animals with cavemen, and even contained prehistoric version of modern appliances and vehicles powered by animals and physical strength. The dinosaur lawnmower, mammoth shower, bird alarm clock and foot-powered skin-topped convertibles were all popular items.

Even their version of a newspaper caused laughs: it was a stone tablet, and was usually thrown at Fred’s head by the paper boy. Keeping with the prehistoric theme, everything was made of stone, wood and animal skins. Even better: all names were wordplay on different rocks and minerals.

“The Flintstones” was originally intended as a program for the entire family; however, its ads were deemed not appropriate for children. For example, its end-of-show bumper promoted the series’ primary sponsor: Winston Cigarettes. When the show was refocused more towards children, these were pulled, and the show was rebroadcast by NBC in 1967.

But what really made the show so adored were its memorable characters. These included its star Fred Flintstone, who was a loudmouth quarry worker in a leopard skin tunic. Like the rest of the cast, he was inspired by the popular 1950s sitcom “The Honeymooners,” and took his cues from the show’s star Jackie Gleason. Like Gleason, Fred was short-tempered, grouchy, loud and prone to get-rich-quick schemes, but somehow he still remained softhearted and lovable. Fred was joined by his lovely and level-headed wife Wilma, and his loyal friends Barnet and Betty Rubble.

The extended cast included the Flintstones’ pet dinosaur Dino, Fred’s boss Mr. Slate, Wilma’s mother, and an alien called the Great Gazoo.

Several years into the show’s run, each of the main families was given a child: Pebbles Flintstones and Bamm Bamm Rubble. With that move, the Flintstones became the first animated program in history to show a couple sharing a bed. Not only that, it was also the first cartoon to have a lead character become pregnant, and this spawned multi-episode story arcs that led up to the births.

Since its debut, “The Flintstones” launched a multi-million dollar merchandising machine, with hundreds of toys and products released each year, including cereal endorsements and children’s vitamins. There were also several specials and animated feature films, including two live-action Hollywood flicks.

In 2011, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane began the dubious task of producing a modern remake of the iconic series for a new generation to discover.

“The Flintstones” was the perfect mix of satire and slapstick. It continues to entertain a wide audience in syndication, several decades after the world first heard Fred’s iconic catchphrase!
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