The Flintstones originally aired between September 1960 until April 1966 and has been an iconic cartoon ever since. As the first ever animated series to be broadcast in a primetime slot, the series was set during the Stone Age and followed the family through exciting and hilarious adventures in a very different time.
We take a look behind-the-scenes and share secrets of the successful series that will make you feel all kinds of nostalgia.
Fred and Barney originally looked like real cavemen
Ed Benedict was one of the original designers of the characters and his vision of Fred and Barney was to draw them to resemble real cavemen. He noted that they appeared as “cave people wearing long beards, with scraggly, unkempt hair and in slightly distorted, hunched-over shapes.”
However, this wasn’t the vision of producer Joseph Barbera and their appearance was changed. Fred lost two spots from his loincloth and added a necktie while Wilma gained a stone necklace.
Alan Reed came up with “Yabba Dabba Doo”
Who doesn’t know the phrase “Yabba Dabba Doo?” The internationally known words weren’t meant to be in the series at all and it was just something the voice of Fred, Alan Reed, experimented with while in the recording studio.
Apparently, Reed’s mother said the words “A little dab’ll do ya,” which led Alan to make his own adaptation of it. Reed asked Joe Barbera if he could change “yahoo” to “Yabba Dabba Doo” and the small change became iconic.
The Flintstones was almost The Flagstones
Joe Barbera originally wanted to call the show The Gladstones or even The Flagstones before finding out that there a comic strip existed with the same name. In 1959 a 90-second pilot of the show was filmed but it never aired and the name was officially changed to The Flintstones.
Years later, in 1993 Cartoon Network found the original pilot in a storage warehouse in New York with the head of programming of the network claiming it was “like the search for the Holy Grail.” The pilot was aired in 1994.
Pebbles was supposed to be a boy
Pebbles was the adorable little girl and youngest member of the Flintstone family, but initially she was supposed to be a little boy. Show-runners and producers all agreed on a boy until the Ideal Toy Company changed it. The head of merchandising at the company called Barbera and said how he heard they were adding a baby.
When the individual then heard it was going to be a boy, he replied “That’s too bad. I have the ideal toy. If it was a girl.” Barbera changed the gender there and then and Pebbles dolls went on to sell over three million in the first few months.
Fred and Wilma were one of the first couples on TV to share a bed
Today, there isn’t much that is held back on TV and people don’t bat an eyelid to couples sharing a bed, but back in the 50s, it was almost unheard of. These were the times that couples would share a room, but have different beds on opposite sides.
Considering it was a cartoon, it was pretty tame and people didn’t make too much of a fuss about it.
They didn’t always know it would be set in the Stone Age
Hanna Barbera always knew they wanted to make a primetime animated sitcom about a family, they just didn’t know where and who. When brainstorming ideas about the show, they came up with a hillbilly family, a pilgrim family, a Native American family and a Roman family.
Eventually, when they settled on the Stone Age, the production company saw the success soar and later launched the 1972 show The Roman Holidays, focusing on a family living in Rome in 63CE.
The famous theme tune wasn’t used until season three
“Flintstones, meet the Flintstones…” the theme tune that everyone knew and loved became famous from the TV show, but the song wasn’t actually heard until the third season.
For the first two seasons it aired, the opening was just an instrumental piece of music called “Rise and Shine.” When the producers changed it up by the third season, fans couldn’t get enough of the catchy tune and it went on to be remastered in the live-action Flintstones movies.
They tackled some serious and real issues
Most TV shows, especially animated sitcoms in the 60s were lighthearted and fun and never really delved into serious issues. The Flintstones changed all of that when they showed couples sharing beds and also discussed the topic of infertility.
This was dealt with then Betty Rubble found out she couldn’t conceive which led her to adopt Bamm-Bamm. The show was definitely more progressive and ahead of its time than the other shows on air.
Networks didn’t believe in it at first
Joseph Barbera and everyone at Hanna Barbera always believed that The Flintstones was going to be a hit show, but the same couldn’t be said for everyone else.
Joseph struggled pitching the idea to networks and spent eight weeks in Manhattan meeting different networks and sponsors. It was all going terribly until the last day in the big apple when ABC decided to pick it up. It certainly paid off for them in the end.
Dino was constantly changing colors
The Flintstone’s pet dinosaur, Dino, popped up officially in the fourth episode of the first season of the show. From then, there wasn’t an episode that went by when Dino wasn’t featured, but fans noticed something strange about the dinosaur.
He had multiple color changes throughout the seasons, going from purple to slightly red and even a hint of blue. Mel Blanc was responsible for Dino’s noises for 27 years, which were also used in in the live-action remakes.
What happened to The Great Gazoo?
In the final season, alien The Great Gazoo was introduced after being exiled from his home planet Zetox after making a dangerous weapon. Fred and Barney discovered him when his UFO crashed and he was forced to serve them as part of his exile.
He often referred to them as “dumb dumbs” and caused problems for them. In the animated series his storyline was never resolved, but he popped up again in the 2000 movie, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, and was still living with Fred and Barney.
The first movie wasn’t made until nine years later
When a TV show is successful, a movie is almost always in the works quite quickly. However, it took nine years for the first Flintstones movie to hit theaters.
When the live action movie came out in 1994, it made over $341 million at the worldwide box office, but it took a long time to get green-lit. Despite being a hit in numbers, it wasn’t very well received by the critics.
The Flintstones promoted cigarettes
Putting cigarettes into an animated show is totally taboo nowadays, but in the 60s, one of The Flintstone’s main sponsors was Winston cigarette manufacturer.
The characters would always be seen smoking at the end of the show and Fred and Barney were even featured in an advert for Winston cigarettes. Unfortunately for Winston, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1970 stopped all of this.
Mel Blanc still voiced Barney after a near-fatal car accident
Barney was always voiced by Mel Blanc, but after he was involved in a terrible head-on collision in 1961, all of this was put in jeopardy. Amazingly, this wasn’t going to stop Mel from doing what he did best and after being released from hospital to go on bed rest, he insisted on working from home.
Surrounding his bed were plenty of wires with a speaker to talk to producers, Blanc went on to record an astounding 40 episodes.
Wilma’s voice over was convinced Wilma and Fred were actually in love
Jean Vander Pyl was Wilma’s voiceover from the first episode of The Flintstones up until her death in 1999. While the couples in the show had their fair share of arguments, ultimately they cared about each other.
Pyl said of their relationship “Sure, Fred was a yahoo and I got mad at him all the time. But we really loved each other. Our romance was one of the things that made us so popular. We were real.”
Jackie Gleason almost sued The Flintstones
If you are familiar with both The Honeymooners and The Flintstones, you may have noticed there are some similarities between the two of them. As a result, creator of The Honeymooners, Jackie Gleason, said in an interview that he wanted to sue Hanna Barbera for copying his show.
In the end, he decided against it and didn’t want to be labeled as the guy who got rid of The Flintstones. He took it as a compliment, saying “Well, if you compare Flintstones to Honeymooners, that’s the biggest compliment you can give me.”
Seth MacFarlane wanted to make a reboot
In 2011, there were rumors swirling that Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane, wanted to create a reboot of The Flintstones. Just a year after this was announced, Seth said that the show was “already on life support.”
He later explained that the reason it didn’t go ahead was because he couldn’t differentiate Fred Flintstone from Peter Griffin on Family Guy and he didn’t want it to become Family Guy in the Stone Age. There is a resemblence when you think about it.
Modern things in prehistoric times
One of the funniest parts about The Flintstones is that they seemed to live like people from modern times, just in prehistoric times. Of course, there was no running water, electricity or TV, but the Flintstones still had a dishwasher and a TV.
Instead of being powered by electricity, they were powered by dinosaurs who seemed to help out around the house a lot. The vacuum cleaner was a small mammoth on wheels and Fred’s car ran from his feet.
A record-breaking cartoon
The Flintstones was truly something special when it appeared in the 60s and it paved the way for other cartoons to reach huge success. It was the first ever primetime cartoon and running for so many years allowed it to hold its title for longest-running cartoon.
For a few decades, six years, six seasons and 166 episodes made The Flintstones the most successful cartoon. The record wasn’t beaten until The Simpsons came around and beat everything else.