Happy Anniversary to The Flintstones

a couple dressed as Fred Flintstone and Wilma Flintstone
The Flintstones never go out of style.
(cc) Nathan Rupert

The Flintstones, created by Hanna-Barbera for ABC television on Friday nights, introduced the world to pre-historic Fred and Wilma Flintstone who live and work in the thriving town of Bedrock (circa 1 million B.C.) Along with their next-door neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble, they enjoy all the modern conveniences of average Stone Age family life that frequently runs amuck when the boys get involved in one harebrained scheme after another.

“I don’t think anyone would argue that The Flintstones stand as a true milestone in the development of animation for television,” said Stacy Isenhower, senior vice president of programming for Cartoon Network and Boomerang. “The ‘Modern Stone-Age Family’ setting and characters are just as indelible today as they were when they first appeared in prime time in the ’60s. You still see them every day on cereal boxes and vitamin jars–even the theme song remains one of the most-recognized around the world. It’s an honor to pay tribute to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s first half-hour animated series. We trust families all over the country will appreciate seeing their favorite episodes across this special anniversary celebration.”

Critics and fans alike agree that the series was an animated homage to The Honeymooners, with rock puns and animal-powered gadgets thrown in. Earning an Emmy nomination in 1961 for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor, The Flintstones aired during an era when color television was becoming popular in America; its popularity also rested heavily on the juxtaposition of modern-day concerns in a Stone Age setting. The original series presented 166 half-hour episodes, and inspired multiple animated series spinoffs, TV movies and specials, as well as two live-action feature films.

Some highlights …

“The Flintstone Flyer” (1960) — Fred learns that Barney is inventing a flying machine, but Fred has doubts whether this thing really works. After seeing Barney successfully riding the machine, he promptly names it The Flintstone Flyer. Afterwards, Wilma reminds Fred that this is Opera night–but Fred wants to go bowling! He devises a plan to stay home by pretending to be sick and Barney offers to stay with him. Free from the girls, Fred opts to fly to the Bowling Alley with the Flintstone Flyer. It works alright, but little does he know the Bowling alley is next to the Opera House.

“The Hot Piano” (1961) — For their wedding anniversary, Fred wants to give Wilma something other than the usual bouquet of flowers: a baby grand piano. Going to the music shop, he is interested in a genuine, but pricey “Stoneway” piano. A strange character named “88 fingers Louie” offers him the same piano for just 50 bucks. Not knowing that this is a “stolen piano,” Fred seals the deal and asks Barney to help with the piano. But installing the piano overnight without Wilma knowing it is quite a challenge, especially when a suspicious cop gets in the way.

two men dressed as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble
The ultimate in renewable energy transportation.
(cc) Joe Shlabotnik

“The Blessed Event” (1963) — In the series’ most famous and highest-rated episode, Fred stages several “dress rehearsals” for the arrival of his and Wilma’s baby. But when the time comes, virtually all of Fred’s meticulously planned preparations go wrong … and it looks as though Wilma is going to give birth several miles from the Rockopedic Hospital. A quickie spoof of the 1960s medical series Ben Casey precedes the episode’s unforgettable climax, in which viewers meet baby Pebbles for the very first time.

The Man Called Flintstone (1966) — In a spoof on 1960s spy films, Fred fills in for a wounded American spy, Rock Slag, and draws the Flintstone family into a dangerous game of prehistoric espionage. Asked to capture the villainous spymaster, Green Goose, and his seductive accomplice, Tanya, Fred quickly discovers that being a spy is far more difficult than his day job at the rock quarry. Luckily, the real Rock Slag recovers in time to zip to Fred’s aid. In true James Bond fashion, The Man Called Flintstone contains a number of original songs, such as Louis Prima’s “Pensate Amore,” that complement the madcap action.

“Ann-Margrock Presents” (1963) — Fred and Barney learn that local talent is being sought for the Bedrock Bowl’s premiere event, a television special starring Ann-Margrock (voiced by Ann-Margret). The boys go home and prepare for an audition, and are aided by Ann-Margrock herself (whom they fail to recognize), who comes in to the Flintstones’ home to use the phone after her car breaks down. While there, she gets attached to baby Pebbles, and determines to help the guys with their musical act. Later that night, they are stunned to learn they’ve been assisted by the “real” Ann-Margrock.

“Little Bamm-Bamm” (1963) — Fred gets tired of Barney and Betty coming over every night to entertain Pebbles. As he throws them out of the house, Wilma is infuriated and reminds Fred that the Rubbles don’t have a child of their own. Fred apologizes to them, however, Betty and Barney still wish upon a shooting star. The next morning, Barney stumbles into a basket containing a little boy, whom they name Bamm-Bamm. The Rubbles want to adopt the toddler, however, the Bedrock Adoption Agency has another person on the list to adopt Bamm-Bamm: the ultra-rich Mr. Rockerfeather.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation, and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world. Boomerang is Turner’s 24-hour cable/satellite network offering the best in classic animated entertainment. Cartoon Network, currently seen in more than 97 million U.S. homes and 166 countries around the world, is Turner’s ad-supported cable service offering the best in original, acquired, and classic entertainment for kids and families.