Although animation veterans at this point in their lives, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were venturing into what was then the foreign territory of television after departing MGM (Tom and Jerry) and formed their own animation studio. The duo slowly established themselves on Saturday mornings (with Ruff and Reddy in 1957) and in syndication (starting with The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958). But while the studio would go on to become a major player in the Saturday morning market, they took a risky venture in 1960 by daring to go where no animation studio had gone before: prime time.
A pilot episode for what was to be called “The Flagstones” was produced, the ABC television network took a chance on the series, and the rest is prehistoric history.
The show ran for a total of 166 episodes over six seasons, featuring the voices of Alan Reed as Fred, Jean Vander Pyl as Wilma, Mel Blanc as Barney, and Gerry Johnson as Betty. It spawned one theatrical movie: The Man Called Flintstone (1966), saw the birth of their daughter Pebbles during the course of season three, the Rubbles adopting baby Bamm-Bamm during season 4, and a host of guest stars and hijinx.
Subsequent series and specials over the years have shown the “modern Stone Age family” and their friends across the gamut of life, from their own childhoods to Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm marrying and making Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty grandparents.
The original series is available on DVD, including the pilot.