1. Today's Google doodle honors The Flintstones anniversary. After today, you'll find it in their archives.
2. The characters of The Flintstones were greatly influenced by the 1954-56 hit TV series The Honeymooners, starring Jackie Gleason and Art Carney as working class neighbors. Blowhard Fred Flintstone was very like Gleason's character Ralph Kramden, goofy sidekick Barney Rubble resembled Carney's character Ed Norton, and their wives Wilma and Betty had the practical personalities of the wives in The Honeymooners. Jackie Gleason considered suing Hanna-Barbera, but did not want to go down in history as "the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air".
3. The show's gimmick, besides being a rare prime-time cartoon, was that the Flintstone family had everyday modern situations set in prehistoric times. There was no electricity, no internal-combustion engines, and no shoes, but the characters still had modern conveniences like dishwashers and phonographs. All these appliances were powered by captive animals (including dinosaurs). The heavy equipment Fred and Barney worked with was powered by pulleys, and their cars were powered by "the courtesy of Fred's two feet."
4. Most of the series' comedy came from puns about rocks. The Flintstones lived in the town of Bedrock. Fred worked for a boss named Mr. Slate. Guest stars on the show had "rock" names.
And who can forget the celebrities? "Cary Granite" (Cary Grant), "Stony Curtis" (Tony Curtis), "Ed Sulleyrock/Sulleystone" (Ed Sullivan), "Rock Pile/Quarry/Hudstone" (Rock Hudson) and "Ann-Margrock" (Ann-Margret) all had cameos.
(RIP Tony Curtis)The exception was Tuesday Weld, whose "Bedrock" name was Tuesday Wednesday.
5. The show had some interesting casting: the man of a thousand voices, Mel Blanc played Barney Rubble for most of the series' run, and provided the sounds of Fred's pet dinosaur Dino. Actress Bea Benedaret, who you might remember as the owner of the Shady Rest Hotel on Petticoat Junction and cousin Pearl on The Beverly Hillbillies did the voice for Barney's wife Betty Rubble. Funnyman Harvey Korman joined the cast in 1965 as the voice of The Great Gazoo.
6. In the first two seasons of The Flintstones, the opening theme was different from the theme song you remember (Meet the Flintstones). The original song, which had no lyrics, was called "Rise and Shine", and was also used for the show's closing credits.
7. The show contained several breakthroughs for network television. It was the first prime-time animated series on American television. After the Flintstones' daughter Pebbles was born, Betty Rubble was depressed about her inability to conceive a child. This was the first time an animated show addressed the issue of infertility. The Rubbles then adopted their son Bamm-Bamm. The "first" that most people associate with the show was the fact that Fred and Wilma slept in the same bed. However, this was not the first American depiction of such sleeping arrangements; that was in the 1947 sitcom Mary Kay and Johnny, which few people saw, considering how many people owned TV sets in the 1940s. However, Fred and Wilma were the first couple to sleep together in a cartoon.
8. While under development, the series had several names. First, the show was going to be called The Flagstones. Then it was The Gladstones. Finally, it was The Flintstones, and couldn't be changed after the series premiered. However, an episode called The Flagstones was made to demonstrate the idea to potential financial backers.
9. Flintstones Vitamins are a childhood staple now, when I was a child, every kid wanted Chocks. Bayer produced Chocks, the first chewable children's vitamin in 1960. The Flintstones line of vitamins began in 1968 when Chocks took on the shapes of the characters from The Flintstones TV series. Everyone noticed that Betty Rubble was missing, and the company did not add her to the vitamin lineup until 1995! Two cereals, Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles, were named after the daughter the Flintstones gave birth to during the series. They are still sold in grocery stores.
9. The success of The Flintstones led directly to the creation of another Hanna-Barbera prime-time cartoon, The Jetsons. The comedy was just about the same as The Flintstones, except the main characters were set in a futuristic world of flying cars and robot maids instead of foot-powered cars and animal appliances. As The Flintstones were seen as a copy of The Honeymooners, this new animated series was seen as a copy of the comic and movie series Blondie. The Jetsons premiered in 1962, but only 24 episodes were produced. Those same 24 episodes were later shown on Saturday morning TV, over and over, for many years.
(Reconstruction by Kennis and Kennis, photgraph by Joe McNally/National Geographic)10. National Geographic has a roundup of links on Neanderthals for the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones. In 2008, they did an extensive article on Neanderthals which included reconstructions of what they might look like. The NatGeo staff nicknamed this one "Wilma", in honor of Fred Flintstone's wife.