Flintstones! Meet The Flintstones! They're the modern Stone Age family!
From the town of Bedrock, The Flintstones are heading to MeTV at 6 p.m. weekdays starting Monday, Sept. 30 in Cincinnati on WLWT-TV Channel 5.2 and in Dayton on WHIO-TV Channel 7.2.
That's the 59th anniversary for The Flintstones premiere on ABC on Sept. 30, 1960, when America first met Fred and Wilma Flintstone and neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble.
They were the modern Stone Age family because of all the 1960s pop cultural references packed into their prehistoric lives: a Stoneway piano; a turntable (with a bird's beak for the record needle); a vacuum cleaner (a baby elephant); a television; TV host Ed Sullystone (Ed Sullivan); actress Ann-Margrock (Ann-Margret), movie director Alvin Brickrock (Alfred Hitchcock); and actors Stoney Curtis (Tony Curtis), Rock Quarry (Rock Hudson) and Cary Granite (Cary Grant).
The Flintstones have deep roots in Cincinnati. Cincinnati's Taft Broadcasting owned Hollywood's Hanna-Barbera Studio and worked closely with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. Hanna-Barbera also produced The Jetsons, The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Top Cat, Tom and Jerry, Banana Splits, Josie and the Pussycats, Magilla Gorilla and Scooby-Doo.
When Taft opened Kings Island in 1972, the popular animated characters were used for everything from naming children's rides and roving the park to labeling parking lot rows.
(Side note: In case The Flintstones theme song is still looping through your head, here are the lyrics.)
Several times I interviewed Barbera about his cartoon creations. He freely admitted that some of his best characters were based on popular TV entertainers: Blustery Fred Flinstone and buddy Barney Rubble were patterned off Jackie Gleason and Art Carney on The Honeymooners; scheming "Top Cat was Sgt. Bilko," he once told me, referring to Phil Silvers' Army motor pool sergeant who loved to con fellow soldiers on The Phil Silvers Show.
Barbera was a master at ripping off TV and movies. Hanna-Barbera cranked out cartoons called The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show; Frankenstein Jr.; Laurel and Hardy; Harlem Globetrotters; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids; The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang; The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour; The Dukes (of Hazzard); Gary Coleman Show; Teen Wolf; Martin Short's Ed Grimley character from Saturday Night Live (The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley); Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure; and Dumb & Dumber.
MeTV has a fun quiz about Hanna-Barbera characters here. (I got eight of 11 correct.) And here's MeTV's list of 15 Yabba-Dabba True Facts About The Flintstones.
The Flintstones aired six seasons on ABC (1960-66). It was the first successful primetime animated series until The Simpsons shattered the record back in 1997.
After Taft morphed into Great American Broadcasting, the Hanna-Barbera studio and library was sold in 1991 to Turner Broadcasting System for use on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. When Turner merged with Time Warner in 1996, Hanna-Barbera became a part of Warner Bros. Animation, which still produces new content.
MeTV shows include The Andy Griffith Show, Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, The Brady Bunch, The Carol Burnett Show, Charlie's Angels, Cheers, Columbo, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Diff'rent Strokes, The Doris Day Show, The Facts of Life, Gilligan's Island, Gomer Pyle USMC, Green Acres, Gunsmoke, Hogan's Heroes, The Jeffersons, Leave It To Beaver, The Love Boat, The Lucy Show, M*A*S*H, Matlock, Maverick, My Three Sons, Night Gallery, The Odd Couple, Perry Mason, The Rifleman, Saved By the Bell, 77 Sunset Strip, Taxi, The Twilight Zone and Wonder Woman.
WKRP in Cincinnati left MeTV in April after one year.