It’s hard to believe that the very first primetime animated sitcom premiered 50 years ago today.
The Flintstones debuted on September 30, 1960 on ABC. A knock-off of the classic Honeymooners sketches, the show revolves around Fred and Wilma Flintstone and their best friends, Barney and Betty Rubble. The animated series stars the voices of Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benaderet, Gerry Johnson, Don Messick, and John Stephenson. It inspired many spin-off shows over the years and was the longest-running primetime animated sitcom until 1992 when The Simpsons surpassed it.
In celebration of the anniversary, the Boomerang cable channel is rerunning the very first episode tonight at 8:30pm, the same day and time as the original debut. That’ll be followed by a few more Flintstones episodes and the 1966 feature film, The Man Called Flintstone. On Saturday, Boomerang will run a 24-hour marathon of Flintstones programming.
Google is also tipping their hat to the animated series by featuring a custom image of the characters (above) on the Google homepage. If you really look hard, you can kind of see the shapes of the letters of Google’s name.
Below is a video of the demo film that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera used to sell the series to ABC. The series was initially going to be called The Flagstones. Some of the characters had different designs and voices before they settled on the ones we know and love today. In the demo, that’s June Foray playing Betty, Daws Butler as Fred and an unknown performer as Barney (though some believe it’s Butler as well). Vander Pyl was always Wilma. (Thanks to Mark Evanier for the info.)
What do you think? Do you have any favorite episodes? Who’s your favorite character?