TV's favorite stone-age family first visited our living rooms on September 30, 1960. Originally pitched as The Flagstones, television's first prime-time animated series ran for six seasons and became so popular that companies like Welch's paid big bucks to get their products advertised by Fred, Wilma, Betty, Barney and Pebbles. (Let's face it, 44 years after the series went off the air, kids are still gobbling down Flintstones vitamins daily.) While everyone remembers things like Fred's catchphrase and his foot-propelled car and Wilma's baby mastodon vacuum cleaner, what often gets forgotten is some of the great (well, "catchy" at least) music that the series gave us over the years.
If You Play a Hot Piano, You Get Your Fingers Burned
How many of you still wish couples a "happy anniversary" to the tune of the William Tell Overture? Gioachino Rossini wrote the melody, but it was William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who provided the memorable lyrics. Poor Fred had forgotten his wedding anniversary yet again, and in a bid to buy Wilma a nicer last-minute present than a bouquet of flowers, he decided to purchase a piano. Unfortunately his limited budget meant that he had to buy a genuine Stoneway out of the back of a truck from a guy named 88 Fingers Louie. Fred and Barney were busted while hauling the piano home late at night, but the obliging cops took time out to sing this commemorative ditty.
The writers spoofed everything from the then-current craze of Beatle-haired pop groups with strange names and gimmicks to the hysteria that occasionally resulted from outrageous promotional campaigns in the episode entitled "The Masquerade Party." Radio ads warning Bedrock of an imminent invasion from the Way-Outs spooked the city into a War of the Worlds-type panic, which led to Fred (in a spaceman costume en route to a party) being arrested. Eventually it was revealed that the Way-Outs were a British pop band, and their catchy theme song was sampled many years later in rap trio J.J. Fad's hit "Way Out."
Your Taste We Will Tickle with a Cold Dill Pickle
Unless there's a Sonic near your home, you may have never experienced having your food brought out to your vehicle by a carhop. But in the 1960s, drive-in restaurants were as common as 1-800-LAWYER commercials. Because of their ubiquity and popularity, Fred and Barney naturally assumed that owning a drive-in meant instant goldmine. Unbeknownst to their wives, they quit their day jobs and bought a restaurant. Their secret didn't stay under wraps for long, however, when two enterprising carhops got a bit too aggressive in their job-seeking campaign:
It's Where the Hipsters Go
"The Twitch" was an obvious reference to Chubby Checker's hit "The Twist," but singer Rock Roll was meant to be a composite of the manufactured pop stars of that era. It was revealed in the episode that his groovy hair and sideburns were fake, and that his dance craze had been invented inadvertently as a result of an allergic reaction to pickled dodo eggs. (By the way, for those under-30 types who've never seen the real thing, that animated TV host is a spoof of Ed Sullivan, whose variety show was the venue for the hot acts of the day.)
Better Buy Some SoftSoap Quick, Before They Call You "Skunk"
Around the same time The Flintstones was originally on the air, another hit show was Sing Along with Mitch, which starred record producer/A&R man Mitch Miller leading a chorale in a community sing. The words would scroll on-screen so viewers could sing along at home. (It didn't take much to entertain us back in the day.) In Bedrock, folks tuned in to Hum Along with Herman to get their karaoke mojo on. When Fred discovered that Barney had a mellifluous singing voice, he quickly formed the Flintstone Canaries and arranged for an audition. Unfortunately, Barney could only carry a tune while in the bathtub, which is why the quartet ended up semi-nude on the program for a commercial spot promoting the sponsor's soap:
Almost a Lawsuit, but Really Just a Strange Coincidence
It's probably far from politically correct, but whenever I hear someone speak with any type of Scandinavian accent my mind automatically recites, "He is Olé, I am Sven." The episode entitled "The Swedish Visitors" featured a pair of foreign musicians who bunked at the Flintstone home for a short time. The episode was inspired by a record called "Wilma" released in Sweden by Owe Thörnqvist. The chorus "jabadabadooo" sounded suspiciously like Fred's favorite exclamation, and then there was that whole "Wilma" angle... Hanna-Barbera contacted Thörnqvist who insisted that jabadabadooo was a traditional Viking cry, and everything else was strictly coincidental. The matter was resolved by having the singer record an English version of his tune for use on the show.