Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.
In 1960, ABC brought something new to the young medium of television: A full-length (30 minute) animated cartoon TV series. Sure, cartoons had been broadcast since TV's inception, but never an actual primetime cartoon series. The show was "made for adults," but the millions of kids who routinely tuned in didn't know or didn't care about that.
The Flintstones ran for six very successful years (1960-1966). The original pilot for the series was called The Flagstones. This name was changed because of the popular comic strip Hi and Lois, whose last name was Flagstone. Their creators threatened legal action if that surname was appropriated by ABC. (Daws Butler voiced both leads, Fred and Barney, in this original pilot.)
And obvious and openly admitted rip-off of The Honeymooners, the show's cast included four lead characters. Fred Flintstone (the earliest animated precursor to Homer Simpson) was the show's central character. Interestingly, although Seth MacFarlane, the brilliant creator of Family Guy, is often accused of "ripping off" Homer Simpson for his lead character Peter Griffin, Seth always denies this theory and says Fred Flintstone was his "favorite cartoon character as a kid" and was the actual inspiration for Peter.
Much like Jackie Gleason's legendary Honeymooners character Ralph Kramden, Fred was loud, overbearing, blustery, and obnoxious. But underneath, he was a good guy, just an average Stone Age "John Doe" trying to earn a living, get by, and have a few laughs on the side. Fred shared one other quality with Ralph: his unequivocal and undying love of this wife, Wilma.