LIFE Magazine released hundreds of photos behind the scenes of The Flintstones in 1960

See the artists, cast and crew of the classic cartoon hard at work!

Everett Collection

When The Flintstones premiered in 1960, it was just a cartoon about two caveman couples who are next-door neighbors. It would prove in its first few episodes to have so much impact that it wasn't TV Guide that put the cartoon family on its cover first, but the epitome of photojournalism, LIFE Magazine.

You could say then that this wasn't just TV history, but a shift in culture, where adults looked forward to cartoon time just as much as kids. And everyone seemed to sense it and want in on it. For the November 1960 issue, LIFE sent photographer Allan Grant — a lensman who famously had the final photoshoot with Marilyn Monroe — on a mission to document every last second of what it took to put The Flintstones together.

When the magazine hit the racks, a measly three photos from Grant's collection were used, but the photographer had taken more than 850.

These beautiful photos captured everything, like Fred and Barney voice actors Alan Reed and Mel Blanc at the mic, or the whole cast doing table reads, all buzzing with excitement in their earliest days in these roles. The photos show the development of the show, peering at inkers drawing some of the first lines to form Fred Flintstone's face, or photographers capturing racing dinosaurs. They also got personal, showing Hanna and Barbera poolside, celebrating this momentum with their families.

For Flintstones fans, all the photos are wonderful, and you can click through hundreds of them in an online archive here.

Of course, TV Guide eventually caught up and in 1961, they named The Flintstones among its debut season's Top 100 shows. The cover showed Dino's neck stretched corner to corner, with Barney sitting on his head, Fred clinging to his neck and Wilma and Betty right behind.

Before that, The Hollywood Reporter published their review of The Flintstones in 1960, predicting the stone-age family might end up ranking with Bugs Bunny, Popeye, and Mickey Mouse among the most beloved cartoons. It predicted the show's inevitable iconic status, with their critic Ed Olmstead writing:

"Stone-age characters Fred and Wilma Flintstone, with neighbors Betty and Barney Rubble, also could be tailored for major comic strip by-product, as Bronxy dialogue and earthy situations all play hokey without being confined by age, intellectual or time barriers."

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tootsieg 24 months ago
Loved scrolling through the pictures. When The Flintstones premiered it was so exciting. Watching a cartoon show during prime time on a Friday night!!! Followed by 77 Sunset Strip. Lots of fun.
STARFIGHTER77 40 months ago
kimmer 40 months ago
I remember the ciggy loved them growing up and even today I watch them with my 86 yr old mom. We laugh as we did the same when I was small....great memories!
Pacificsun 40 months ago
When I was young kids didn't control the TV, particularly at other people's homes. Friday night besides being "Fight Night" (yes, boxing was a big deal in the 60's) The Flintstones came on. And my parents with their friends got a real kick out of the cartoon! Pretty amazing because these folks never watched Saturday morning cartoons or anything silly. I don't know what there was about this adult cartoon (I guess the equivalent of The Simpson's today). But my guess is they thought it was clever and character driven (like The Honeymooners!) only more visual. Satirical and bombastic. Maybe the workingman's commentary on everyday home life, just transferred to the Stone Age.

Pretty clever indeed! The voices were perfect. I can barely imagine human actors saying those lines, that's how good they were.
Brian 40 months ago
When I was little Flintstone were on in primetime, and they were a big deal. My family would keep it quiet that the show'd be on that evening because, when I found out it was to be on, I started running around the house like I was buzzed on sugar because I was beyond excited.

I'm saddened that when I now watch episodes on my local MeTV station (WBBZ-67.1 Buffalo NY) the Flintstones episodes seem to have so much dirt on them. I guess Hi-def flat-screen TVs (that display the slightest defect) weren't a concern in the 60's. It'd be nice if a film preservation society took it upon itself to restore some of the "biggest" episodes of the Flintstones, e.g., Pebbles' birth, Dino joining the family when he spoke & was a different color, Grandma Dynamite, etc.

BTW, I hate the later Flintstones episodes with The Great Gazoo. When I was a kid I thought that he ruined the show, and I haven't changed my mind. I've always liked actor Harvey Korman, but not his voice character, Gazoo.

I followed the link to the photos, and am I the only one who is wondering if we're seeing fog or smog in the Hollywood(?) pool photos? Was LA smog really that bad in even the early-to-mid-60s?

Pacificsun Brian 40 months ago
Air Quality: absolutely (tho never as bad as China) but it is the reason California established Air Quality Control standards, including arresting smog emissions. In the day, you couldn't see the sun shining. And probably made it easier for LA location shooting because the sky was a constant grey, instead of stark shadows!

As to The Flintstones, never noticed those imperfections, but my TV is just an average Hi Def, not super expensive. I wonder if it's because the cartoon was intended for small screens (or at least, not the extremely large screens we have today, above 70in wide).
Brian Pacificsun 40 months ago
I have an old (OLD!) 42" Sony flat screen... barely 1080P. I remember the big deal with it was that it had some sort of newfangled "USB port" so you can date it from the intro of USB-2. Maybe the older Flintstones episodes are the worst dirt-wise, I'm not sure, like from the first coupla seasons.
Pacificsun Brian 40 months ago
The question is, was there any USB device to plug INTO the TV back then? Of course technology is always forward thinking as is foreign technology and assembly!
LittleMissNoName Brian 40 months ago
METV recently switched over to the new Hi-def prints.

justjeff 40 months ago
I checked out the link. It seems that Google Arts & Culture is employing the same "proofreader" as is MeTV: "Hunckleberry Hound World's Biggest Outfit, Hanna-Barbara Productions"

????HUH????? *HUNCKLEberry*????

Is that anything like a strumberry, goopsberry, rashberry, poisonberry, bloopberry, flackberry, lincolnberry, granberry, welderberry, mulchberry, clydeberry?

For that matter, are some of the othe HB characters Quick Saw McGraw, August Doggie, Mr. Stinks, Yogurt Bear, Scoopy Doo-Doo, Snaggy, Vanilla Gorilla, etc.?

"Perspiring minds want to know..."
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justjeff lynngdance 40 months ago
If I only could afford Photoshop..LOL! Well, my speciality is digital type design, so CorelDraw suffices...
justjeff lynngdance 40 months ago
Now, if we were on a blog for WB cartoons that were misnamed, I'd offer up Slugs Bunny, Taffy Duck, Still Festered, Meaty Pie, Needy Gonzalez, Gethsemane Sam, Elmer Mudd, Cranny, Snitch Hazel, the Load Gunner, Smiley Coyote, Smogborne Lovelorn, Stiffles, Michigan J. Fraud, Henry Pickin' Chalk and Creaky Buzzard...
lynngdance justjeff 40 months ago
😃🤣😂🤪😆 Very Funny! Oh by the way that’s not Photoshop (I wouldn’t pay that much for it either 😆) it’s PicCollage, it’s free 🙂. I mean technically there’s a paid version of it, but unless you want templates and stickers they label as “premium” it’s not that big of a deal.
justjeff lynngdance 40 months ago
Good to know... however there's few if any image projects I deal with... just letters, numbers and punctuation marks [1,740 type designs over the past 15 years]... but I do appreciate you letting me know abourt PicCollage.
MrsPhilHarris 40 months ago
Great photos. Looks like the bowling team was called Yogi Bears.

I want one of those toy Yogi Bears.
LittleMissNoName 40 months ago
Really neat. In one of the pictures, appears they are discussing new character concept art for Touche Turtle and what would eventually become Richocet Rabbit.
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