“Yabba Dabba Doo!!” must be one of the most famous exclamations of all times — here comes exuberant Fred Flintstone, the dad and main character on the 1960s American TV cartoon show The Flintstones.
Set in a quirky cartoon-style Stone Age, burly Fred, his stylish wife Wilma, their baby daughter Pebbles and pet dinosaur Dino drive cars made of logs, go to prehistoric drive-in movies and pick up take-out dinners — that is huge brontosaurus ribs — at their neighborhood drive-in burger place. Always along for the fun are their neighbors (and best friends) Barney and Betty Rubble with their supernaturally strong son, Bamm-Bamm.
Modern Stone Age family
Like any mid-20th century suburban American family, the world’s favorite cartoon cave dwellers have “Polarock” cameras, can openers, lawn-mowers, air-conditioners and record players — all operated by wacky animals in the prehistoric town of Bedrock. And how about a “Stoneway” piano?
The animated sitcom-style series created by the Hanna-Barbera cartoon studios was originally broadcast on the ABC television network from September 30, 1960 to April 1, 1966, followed by decades of reruns. It premiered on prime time TV, and the stories about the Flintstone and the Rubble families and the sometimes hairy, sometimes everyday situations they find themselves in were an instant hit with TV audiences.
Most successful animated TV series for decades
Some Flintstones trivia:
The series is seen as a riff on The Honeymooners, a classic American TV sitcom from the 1950s about two couples, created by and starring American actor and comedian Jackie Gleason. Unthinkable today: The main male character in The Honeymooners would regularly threaten to beat up his wife; in The Flintstones, Fred would rant and rave, but it was Wilma who would actually beat her husband over the head with a rolling pin.
The Flintstones was the most financially successful and longest-running network animated television series until Matt Groening’s unconventional cartoon family came along: The Simpsons debuted in late 1989 and has been on TV ever since.
“Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, they’re the modern Stone Age family…..” Beginning in Season 3, Meet the Flintstones was the show’s cheerful opening and closing theme. The tune, recorded with a big band, was inspired by the second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 17 from 1802.
Originally aimed at a family audience, The Flintstones was the first American animated cartoon to show a couple (Fred and Wilma or Barney and Betty) sleeping in the same bed.
The show was co-sponsored by the US cigarette brand Winston for the first two seasons, which meant Barney and Fred would light up in a kind of integrated ad at the end of an episode.
In 1961, The Flintstones was the first animated series to be nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Fred was first meant to yell a trademark “Yahoo!”, but legend has it the actor who was his voice came up with something much better by integrating the slogan “a little dab’ll do ya” — sources ascribe it to either the actor’s mom, or to an ad tune for a brand of hair grease.
The cartoon series was also translated into French, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, German and other languages, presenting the various production teams with the challenge of coming up with a local version of “Yabba-dabba-doo!”
ntertainment for generations
The wildly popular series about the cartoon Stone Age family soon had a futuristic counterpart, a much shorter-lived series about a family in the Space Age. With their dog, Astro, the Jetsons zipped around a world full of gadgets: robots, flying cars, jetpacks and smart watches in Orbit City.
The 1960s had a wealth of cartoon characters that often had their own animated comedy shows, short episodes or spin-offs — not to mention the multi-million dollar merchandising that went with all the favorite cartoon characters — including Bullwinkle, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, Mighty Mouse, Beany & Cecil, Bugs Bunny, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear and Tom and Jerry.
As for The Flinstones themselves, the series generated numerous spinoffs, revivals, movies and theme parks.