The Flintstones

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Long before there was Bart Simpson, ABC did something no one thought made any sense, they put a cartoon on during prime-time. The Flintstones was the first animated show [ever] to be broadcast during that prime-time slot. The show debuted on September 30, 1960, and ran all the way to April 1, 1966.

The show was originally titled The Flagstones but due to another script with the same name, Hanna-Barbera changed the name to The Flintstones and it was off to the races. The show ran for 6 seasons with 166 total episodes. Check out the history of the show below.

From the great characters like The Great Gazoo, Bad luck schlep rock, The Gruesomes, The Hatrocks, Dino, Mr. Slate, Barney, Fred, Wilma, Pebbles, Bam Bam, Betty, Wooly and all the others, there was never a show like it.

Fred Flintstone physically resembles both the first voice actor who played him, Alan Reed, and Jackie Gleason, whose series, The Honeymooners, inspired The Flintstones. The voice of Barney Rubble was provided by voice actor Mel Blanc, except for five episodes during the second season (the first, second, fifth, sixth, and ninth); Hanna-Barbera regular Daws Butler filled in and provided the voice of Barney while Blanc was incapacitated by a near-fatal car accident. Blanc was able to return to the series much sooner than expected, by virtue of a temporary recording studio for the entire cast set up at Blanc’s bedside. Blanc’s portrayal of Barney had changed considerably after the accident. In the earliest episodes, Blanc had used a much higher pitch to the point of portraying Barney as a smart-aleck. After his recovery from the accident, Blanc used a deeper voice, quite similar to the voice of the Abominable Snowman he performed in other cartoons and was shown as somewhat dopier than before.

Reed based Fred’s voice upon Gleason’s Honeymooners interpretation of Ralph Kramden, while Blanc, after a season of using a nasal, high-pitched voice for Barney, eventually adopted a style of voice similar to that used by Art Carney in his portrayal of Ed Norton. The first time the Art Carney-like voice was used was for a few seconds in “The Prowler” (the third episode produced).

In a 1986 Playboy interview, Gleason said Alan Reed had done voice-overs for Gleason in his early movies and that he had considered suing Hanna-Barbera for copying The Honeymooners, but decided to let it pass. According to Henry Corden, a voice actor and a friend of Gleason’s, “Jackie’s lawyers told him he could probably have The Flintstones pulled right off the air. But they also told him, ‘Do you want to be known as the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air? The guy who took away a show so many kids love and so many parents love, too?'”

Henry Corden’s voice became Fred’s after Reed’s death in 1977, starting with A Flintstone Christmas. Corden had previously provided Fred’s singing voice in The Man Called Flintstone and later on The Flintstones children’s records. Since 2000, Jeff Bergman, James Arnold Taylor, and Scott Innes (performing both Fred and Barney for Toshiba commercials) have performed the voice of Fred. Since Mel Blanc’s death in 1989, Barney has been voiced by Jeff Bergman, Frank Welker, and Kevin Michael Richardson. Various additional character voices were created by Hal Smith, Allan Melvin, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler, and Howard Morris, among others.

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Source: Sal Amato
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