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‘Flintstones’ Characters: The Inside Scoop on Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty

Meet the actors whose voices brought the Flintstones and the Rubbles to life


You cannot look at the Flintstones characters and not think about Jackie Gleason and Art Carney‘s The Honeymooners, but that was very much by the design of series creators William Hannah and Joseph Barbera (better known for Hanna-Barbera productions), who made no secret of the fact that that was their inspiration.

How they got away with it and didn’t get sued by Gleason is due to one simple reason: the actor thought the show and the Flintstones characters were funny. And there are a whole lot of people who agree with him.

The Honeymooners inspired the Flintstones characters
Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph from The Honeymooners — clearly an inspiration for The Flintstones©CBS/courtesy

The Flintstones is an animated series produced for prime time that aired between September 30, 1960 and April 1, 1966 for a total of 166 episodes, and it — as well as its various spinoffs — has been delighting television viewers ever since.

The reason is simple: we love the comic misadventures of Flintstones characters Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Barney and Betty Rubble, plus the idea of taking our modern world and moving it back to prehistoric times for the show’s unique take on technology is hysterical.

Pop culture historian and lecturer Arlen Schumer points offers that what made The Flintstones so special were the actors’ voices and the human aspects of those characters. “In the end,” he says, “even if it was inspired by The Honeymooners, Alan Reed was still a great Alan Reed and his Fred Flintstone is as unique a voice as Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden. In the end, it was the voice of the cast and the class of the show.”

Fred Flintstone, Voiced by Alan Reed

Fred Flintstone and Alan Reed
Fred Flintstone and Alan Reed©WBDiscovery/courtesy

Fred Flintstone is the lead of the Flintstones characters. He’s boisterous, easy to anger but also a loving husband and father, and when he’s not scheming, a really good friend to next door neighbor Barney Rubble. Fred works for the Slate Rock and Gravel Company, operating a bronto-crane. Overweight, he loves to eat and is always coming up with get-rich-quick schemes that never pan out.

Alan Reed
Alan Reed decides to bring Fred Flinstone from the reel world to the real one in this promo shot from 1960.©WBDiscovery/courtesy

Voicing Fred is actor Alan Reed, born Herbert Theodore Berman on August 20, 1907 in New York City. He voiced Fred on the original series as well as the first couple of spin-offs until his death in 1977. He appeared in such films as Days of Glory, The Tarnish Angels, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Seniors.

He provided the voice for the Russian Wolfhound in Disney’s 1955 animated classic Lady and the Tramp, and even brought Fred Flintstone to the big screen in 1966’s The Man Called Flintstone. He had been married to Finnette Walker since 1932 and they had three children. He died on June 14, 1977 at age 69 from emphysema and a fatal heart attack.

Wilma Flintstone, Voiced by Jean Vander Pyl

Wilma Flintstone and Jean Vander Pyl
Jean Vander Pyl poses with a cardboard cut-out of Wilma Flintstone, whose voice she provides in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Flintstones, circa 1966.Archive Photos/Getty Images

Wilma Flintstone is Fred’s put upon wife and mother to their daughter, Pebbles. She gets a lot of aggravation from her cave man of a husband, but knows his heart and loves him for it. She and next door neighbor Betty Rubble have to do their best to stay ahead of their husbands’ various schemes and lamebrain ideas. Like everyone else making up the four main Flintstones characters, she definitely takes her Honeymooners influence from Audrey Meadows’ Alice Kramden.

She was voiced by Jean Vander Pyl (also the vocal performer for daughter Pebbles Flintstone), who was born October 11, 1919 in Philadelphia. Some of her additional credits include voicing the character of Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons, and little girl Ogee on The Magilla Gorilla Show. Married twice, she had four children and died on April 10, 1999 at 79 from lung cancer.

Barney Rubble, Voiced by Mel Blanc

Barney Rubble and Mel Blanc
Barney Rubble and Mel Blanc, the Man of a Thousand Voices©WBDiscovery/courtesy

Barney Rubble is Fred’s best friend and proves his loyalty by sticking with a guy who is always yelling and constantly getting him into trouble with his seemingly insane ideas. For much of the original show’s run, the audience never knew what Barney did for a living, though later on it was established that he worked with Fred at the rock quarry.

Mel Blanc and Alan Reed voicing their Flintstones characters
Mel Blanc and Alan Reed in the recording booth, voicing their Flintstones characters©WBD/courtesy

Bringing Barney to vocal life is Mel Blanc, given the nick-name “The Man of a Thousand Voices” due to his ability to come up with so many of them, especially for the Looney Tunes cartoons. He was born Melvin Jerome Blank on May 30, 1908 in San Francisco, California. He was a regular presence on The Jack Benny Show, making the transition with it from radio to television.

A year after The Flintstones began, in 1961, Mel nearly died in a car accident that saw fellow voice actor Daws Butler play Barney in several episodes. Not long after, a makeshift recording studio was set up in his hospital room, and while he was in a full body cast, he and his costars would record episodes of the show. Following the accident, the Barney character had a considerably deeper voice than he’d had before.

Mel Blanc was married to Estelle Rosenbaum in 1933 and was with her for the rest of his life. He’s the father of Noel Blanc and died on July 10, 1089 at 81.

Betty Rubble, Voiced by Bea Benaderet

Betty Rubble and Bea Benederet
Betty Rubble and Bea Benederet©WBDiscovery/courtesy

Betty Rubble was Wilma’s best friend, and someone who would lock stride with her when it came time to confront their husbands over their latest dumb move. But through it all, she, too, loved her husband and, when amused, had a wonderful giggle thanks to actress Bea Benaderet, who voiced her through the show’s first four seasons. Bea was born on April 4, 1906, spending much of her career in live action, particularly from 1950 to 1958 when she appeared on Burns & Allen.

In the 1960s, she appeared on The Beverly Hillbillies and portrayed Kate Bradley, proprietor of the Shady Rest Hotel on Petticoat Junction. Bea left The Flintstones after Season 4 and passed away from lung cancer on October 13, 1968 at 62. She’d been married twice and had two children. Actress Gerry Johnson voiced the character of Betty Rubble during the show’s last two seasons.

The Great Gazoo, Voiced by Harvey Korman

The Great Gazoo and Harvey Korman, who became one of the Flintstones characters
The Great Gazoo as voiced by Harvey Korman on The FlintstonesL-R: ©WBDiscovery/courtesy; Getty Images

Throughout its first four years, The Flintstones kept true to its sitcom-inspired roots, but then — and perhaps the writers were running out of ideas — season five introduced the Green Gazoo, a little green-skinned alien exiled on Earth who is tasked with doing good deeds if he ever wants to go home again. Targeting Fred and Barney as the recipient of those good deeds — which, truthfully, seem to hurt them as much as help — he uses his powers to help solve their dilemmas.

Voicing the character of the Great Gazoo is Harvey Korman, later to play so integral a part on The Carol Burnett Show. Born February 15, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, he made his acting debut on an episode of The Donna Reed Show as a waiter.

On television he would make dozens of appearances between that 1960 episode and as the voice of Gularis in a 2000 episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. On the big screen, there would be 32 appearances between 1961’s Living Venus and 2000’s live action The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. But it was the decade run of The Carol Burnett Show from 1967 to 1977 that showcased his comic brilliance. Married twice and the father of four, he died on May 29, 2008 at age 81 from complications of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Special Guest Stars

Tony Curtis as Stony Curtis

Stony Curtis
Tony Curtis provided the voice for Stony Curtis on The Flintstones©WBDiscovery/courtesy

Ann-Marget as Ann Margrock

Alan Reed and Ann-Margret
Fred Flintstone and Ann-Margrock being voiced by Alan Reed and Ann-Margret

Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York as Samantha and Darrin

Samantha and Darrin on The Flintstones
Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York voice Samantha and Darrin on The Flintstones©WBDiscovery/IMDb

Fun Facts About The Flintstones

The Man Called Flintstone
Movie poster for the 1966 animated film The Man Called Flintstone©Columbia Pictures/courtesy

The Flintstones was the first animated television series to be aired in prime time and was treated by the network as it would any other sitcom. It would also be spun off into the 1966 animated feature film The Man Called Flintstone, a spoof of the James Bond-inspired “spymania” of the 1960s.

Flintstones Book
The Flintstones Little Golden Book adventure©WBDiscovery/Little Golden Books

As it was originally conceived, the main characters of the show were supposed to be Fred, Wilma and Fred, Jr. And while the latter never made it to the air, he was featured in a single Little Golden Book story;

Because The Flintstones wasn’t designed for kids originally, it was not only sponsored by Winston cigarettes, there were animated commercials with Fred and Barney promoting the brand.

Fred and Wilma
Fred and Wilma Flintstone shattering taboos by sleeping in the same bed©WBDiscovery/IMDb

Looking at those Flintstones characters just shattering taboos! Most sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s showed married couples sleeping in separate beds (just how did Lucy Ricardo get pregnant?). Well, The Flintstones got away with that notion as Fred and Wilma were often seen sharing the same slab of stone.

Betty and Barney Rubble
Betty, Barney and Bamm-Bamm Rubble on The Flintstones©WBDiscovery/courtesy

This one was really surprising: The Flintstones characters — Barney and Betty specifically — actually had to deal with the issue of infertility. There’s a storyline in Season 4 where Barney and Betty are spending a lot of time interacting with Pebbles Flintstone and driving Fred crazy by being there every time he turns around. What is revealed, though in a subtle fashion, is that the Rubbles are unable to conceive a child, so they end up adopting the super-powerful Bamm-Bamm.


For more Classic TV fun, check out:

Actor Hal Linden Shares 10 ‘Barney Miller’ Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

The Dick Van Dyke Show’: Inside Secrets on the Series and Cast

‘Leave It to Beaver’ Cast: Find Out What Happened to the Cleaver Family

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