Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Riding on Dino

 I'm back yet again with another post spotlighting a classic piece of Flintstones memorabilia. Today, I'm showing two of my favorites, both based around Fred's lovable pet Dino. Released by Marx in 1963, here are the "Flintstone Pals on Dino" wind-up toys. Both Fred and Barney were available as part of this collection, and I have to say, of the toys I've shared on this blog from when the original Flintstones was originally broadcast, these ones probably do the best job at capturing the look of the characters. The packaging is pretty nifty, too. The characters' expressions are lovely, and whoever did the art did a great job at staying true to their appearances in the show. Here's what they look like both in and out of box.

I'm not quite done talking about Dino yet, however. Remember, I did say I wanted to talk about two pieces of merchandise. Below is a battery-operated tin toy of Dino, complete with Fred riding him. It measures 21 inches long, and when activated, Dino bops his head around while going his merry way. He even whistles, which the box proudly touts. It seems to be one of the bigger toys Marx offered in their Flintstone line, and I imagine any Flintstones-obsessed kid would have been ecstatic to get this back in the day. As you can imagine, this is also one of the more expensive products to get ahold of nowadays. A quick look on Ebay shows that most offerings of the toy go for at least a couple hundred, while a boxed copy goes up to nearly a thousand! I don't think I'd be willing to shell out that kind of money on a toy, but I can't deny that it's a lovely piece of memorabilia.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Allan Melvin at 101

 Born on February 18th, 1923, Melvin was an actor who appeared in some of the most popular shows of the fifties and sixties; Andy Griffith, Phil Silvers, Brady Bunch, Lost in Space, Dick Van Dyke, and the list goes on and on. Yet, for many who hear his name today, one character springs to mind: Magilla Gorilla.

Though his vocal credits aren't as lengthy as his onscreen roles, Allan Melvin entered the world of Hanna-Barbera as the title character of the 1964 series Magilla Gorilla, beginning a career in animation that would last for thirty years. Magilla is the character he's best known for, but he also voiced a vast variety of minor roles in many of Hanna-Barbera's productions in those decades. The last role he did for them was as Magilla once more for the 1994 film Scooby-Doo! in Arabian Nights before finally retiring. Melvin would sadly pass away from cancer at age 84 on the 17th of January, 2008. Over a decade after his death, however, his legacy endures through his impressive body of work spanning nearly half a century. And, as this past Sunday marked what would've been his 101st birthday, I think it's only right to dedicate an article on this blog to an often underappreciated voice actor from the early years of Hanna-Barbera.

This piece comes to us courtesy of the June 1st, 1981 edition of The Morning Call. Inside, Melvin discusses his work on the series Archie Bunker's Place, a series he was featured in at the time, as well as his last onscreen role. Alongside this series, he looks back at his many past TV roles, including his voiceover work at Hanna-Barbera. I hope you enjoy this article, and to Mr. Melvin, I wish a most happy heavenly birthday!

Allan Melvin a loyal sidekick in 'Archie Bunker's Place'

By Jerry Buck
AP Television Writer

    LOS ANGELES - Allan Melvin has played Archie Bunker's best friend since 1972, but it didn't start off as a chummy relationship.
    The very first time Melvin appeared on "All in the Family," it was not as Barney Hefner, best friend, but as Sgt. Pete Pulaski of New York City's Finest.
    "The fun of that episode was that Archie came down to the police station and was making remarks about the Polish," he recalled. "Somebody says, 'Oh, yeah, tell that to Sgt. Pulaski' — and I throw Archie into the can."
    It was a few months after that that Melvin was reincarnated as Barney Hefner. He remained with the CBS show when it was changed to "Archie Bunker's Place," and only Carroll O'Connor, as the irrepressible Archie, has been with the series longer.
    Melvin, who got his start as a stand-up comic and mimic and then played on Broadway in "Stalag 17," has had a long and profitable career in television as the foil to the leading man.
    A lot of that time was spent in uniform. On "The Phil Silvers Show" he was Cpl. Henshaw, who was Sgt. Bilko's partner in his attempts to bilk the other soldiers. He was Dick Van Dyke's old Army buddy on his show and Sgt. Hacker on "Gomer Pyle." He also had recurring roles on "The Joey Bishop Show" and on "The Andy Griffith Show."
    Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin at "All in the Family" were familiar with his work even before Sgt. Pulaski. A few years before that, he and Sorrel Booke had starred together in a pilot adapted from the "Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley" comic strip, which Lear and Yorkin had produced.
    "I went in the same season from Pulaski to Barney Hefner," he said. "I think they make allowances for the fact that the audience will accept certain changes. I guess they figure since it was a one-shot I wasn't that established. I've been Barney ever since."
    Marvin is also well known as Al the Plumber, a character he has played for 14 years on the Liquid Plumber commercials. Less well known is the fact that he does many cartoon voices. He has been the voice of Bluto on the "Popeye" cartoon for the past four years. He's also done the voice on "Magilla Gorilla" and has done many impressions for "The Flintstones."
    In fact, the day after the interview he was due to spend the day at Hanna-Barbera studios, recording voices. "They actually animate to our soundtrack," he said. "This gives us a lot of freedom to embellish the parts."
    Few characters on television ever seem to have jobs, but Barney Hefner is a bridge inspector. Not that he ever works at it. "He never really inspects any bridges," said Melvin. "He just says they're all unsafe. That's how he can spend so much time at Archie's Place.
    As Archie's oldest friend they are very similar. "He's very much like Archie in his thinking and his values. But not to the extreme that Archie goes. He's more temperate."
    Melvin recalled that during the making of "The Phil Silvers Show" in New York, the technical adviser assigned to the show was a captain named George Kennedy.
    "He would beseech Nat Hiken for a role," he said. "Finally, Nat made him an MP and let him stand by the door and wear a helmet. He was thrilled. Did I ever think he'd become an actor? No way," Kenedy, of course, not only became an actor, but went on to win the Academy Award as best supporting actor.
    Melvin was born in Kansas City, but was raised in New York and New Jersey. He and his wife now divide their time between their home in Brentwood and one on Monarch Bay in Laguna. He also spends much of his spare time on the golf course.
    His own oldest and closest friend is author Richard Condon, who wrote "The Manchurian Candidate." Condon wrote an early children's record that Melvin recorded and wrote a night club act for him. It was that night club act that caused the producers of "Stalag 17" to alter the role of Reed to fit Melvin's background and his act.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Video of the Week: Harvey Korman Talks Flintstones

His birthday may have been yesterday, but I'm not quite done celebrating Harvey Korman's contributions to The Flintstones yet! For this week's video, here is a great interview with him discussing how he approached the role of the Great Gazoo, and the character's enduring legacy. As a fan of his work both in and out of Bedrock, I got a real kick out of finding this, and I hope you will too.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Great Gazoo Speaks!

 The later seasons of The Flintstones are known by now to have a somewhat divided reputation among fans. Fans are split on everything from the direction the show went in to the introduction of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, but nothing stirs up more debate than the character of the Great Gazoo. Voiced by comedy legend Harvey Korman, this little green alien showed up in a dozen episodes of the final season, and has since gone on to be the franchise's Scrappy-Doo for many. However, there are plenty of others who like the little guy, and I just so happen to be one of them. Does his character feel out of place in a series like The Flintstones? Absolutely? Do I particularly care? Not really! I'd honestly take him over either Pebbles or Bamm-Bamm, and the fact that he was voiced by Korman makes the character even more entertaining.

Speaking of Korman, he's the real subject of today's post! This day marks what would have been his 97th birthday, and to celebrate, I'm sharing this short chat he had with The Province on October 13th, 1995. Beyond looking back on the series, the piece also celebrates his collaborations with Mel Brooks and advertises a signing event Korman was participating in later on that day. 

Korman's a cult, only thanks to Flintstones

The Great Gazoo Still Remembered

By Damian Inwood

    You'd think that after doing ten years on the Carol Burnett Show and working with Danny Kaye, Harvey Korman would command quite a following.
    But it's his role as the voice of a little green spaceman on The Flintstones that has given the veteran actor a cult following.
    "I did only eight or nine episodes of the Great Gazoo, 25 or 30 years ago," laughs Korman. "Now, I sign a picture of me with Barney or Fred and people pay $500 to $700."
    The 68-year-old actor just finished a film with Mel Brooks, which is due out at Christmas.
    "It's called Dracula: Dead and Loving It, with Leslie Nielsen as Dracula," says Korman, who made Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety and History of the World Part 1 with Brooks.
    "It was great to get back together with Mel. He's as brilliant and beautiful and crazy as ever."
    Korman says he keeps busy playing golf and playing with his kids, aged 10 and 12. He says he's bothered by the laugh track on today's sitcoms.
    "It becomes a very synthetic experience," he says. "It's like, 'Please let me alone, let me decide when to laugh.'"
    Korman bemoans the fact that, in Hollywood, actors become disposable when they get older. 
    "In other professions - doctors, lawyers, accountants - when you get into your 50s or 60s you're better than ever, you know the terrain, you're smarter than ever, and you're more valuable," he says.
    "In my business, you have some peak years and bang, you're not marketable anymore. There are so many men that I know in Hollywood that are really funny and have nowhere to go. It's quite a sad commentary."
    Korman is signing animation cels at the World of Animation Gallery, 1140 Robson Street at 7 p.m. today.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Old Flintstones Website on Cartoon Network

The Wayback Machine is truly a treasure trove of great riches from the past. I've mentioned it here before, but using it and looking at older versions of the Cartoon Network website is a great source for finding rare photos and concept art of the classic Hanna-Barbera shows. However, just as they do today, the website also housed specific sections for each of their most popular shows, and in the early days, The Flintstones was one of the lucky series that earned such a distinction. So come with me as we venture into this interactive version of Bedrock, dating back to the year 2000!

The first thing we're treated to is this short animation of Fred and the rest of the family rolling up to the drive-thru. If you click on the film screen, the movie title will change. Each one is a rock-themed play on an existing film.

Now, here's what the main page of the site looks like. You've got an ad for Boomerang, a link on how to draw Fred, downloadable icons of the characters, and a guide on when the show aired, among other things.

Here's a glance at the games available on the site. As this was before Adobe Flash took off, you actually had to download these titles if you wanted to play them. All of them have been preserved and you can easily find playthroughs on Youtube, but I assure you that you aren't missing much.

Ever wanted to join the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes? Probably not, but if you did, Cartoon Network offered an application for the organization as a bonus on the site. 

I've saved the weirdest feature on the site for last, and here it is. I doubt anybody here has ever thought of how different Fred Flintstone's life would be if he had hundreds of toes, but thankfully, if you for some reason have, Cartoon Network has you covered with this look into such a scenario. You may now sleep peacefully at night. The image that's supposed to show up here was broken, so sadly (or perhaps thankfully?), this image will have to be left up to your imagination.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Flintstones TV Tinykins By Marx

 Just as promised, it's time for this week's Flintstones retro memorabilia spotlight, and for today, I'm looking at Marx's line of Flintstones TV Tinykins. Marx made a lot of collectibles based around the Hanna-Barbera characters, but the TV Tinykins seems to be one of the more famous ones they put out. For those who've never heard of them before, these were small and cheap figurines based on the Hanna-Barbera characters. They covered everyone from Quick Draw to Yogi, and The Flintstones were obviously included in that lineup. Released back in 1961, the line included Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, Dino (now in green!), Baby Puss, the Fire Chief, and a Traffic Cop. Remember, this was before characters like Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm debuted, so they had to reach a little for characters beyond the core four. Below is what they looked like in and out of box, as well as a neat store display setup for the toys!

One interesting thing about this line is that they also sold characters in bundles. For example, here is The Flintstones set, if you wanted just the characters from that series.

Probably the oddest thing about these toys, however, is that over a decade later, they were given away for free inside of packages of Fruity Pebbles. Guess they had to get rid of that unsold product somehow!

Last, but most certainly not least, here's a great commercial showcasing the line of figures, complete with a catchy tune!

Monday, February 12, 2024

Meet the Flintstones

 For today's entry into Flintstones February, I felt it was time I went back to the very beginning of the franchise. It seems weird to imagine a time in pop culture without Fred, Barney, and the other citizens of Bedrock, but it is from that exact era that this early preview piece for the series comes from. Appearing in the Austin Daily Herald on April 16th, 1960 (five months before the show's debut), this is one of the earliest pieces of writing I could find for the show, and it felt appropriate to share during this month. A quick sidenote about this preview: if you for some reason didn't know that the main gag of The Flintstones was its play on modern situations using cavemen, they'll remind you about half a dozen times here.

Series to Compare Problems Today With Stone Age Issues

    "The Flintstones," an original situation comedy series — the first to be produced in animation — will be sponsored by Miles Laboratories, Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. during the 1960-61 ABC-TV season, according to William P. Mullen, vice president in charge of network sales.
    "The Flintstones" — previously titled "The Flagstones" — will be scheduled at 7:30-8 p.m. (Austin time) Fridays, including Channel 6.
    Hanna-Barbera Productions will create the all-new family comedy which transports contemporary language, behavior and problems into a prehistoric setting. ABC purchased the program from Screen Gems, TV subsidiary of Columbia Pictures.
    "The Flintstones" is a Stone Age family that runs into the same pressures as those confronting contemporary split-level families. Paralleling the dilemma of keeping the modern ranch house clean, the prehistoric home dwellers seek to tidy up the cave.
    Transportation is another common problem that bridges the gap of the centuries. Only instead of worrying about spark plugs or anti-freeze, "The Flintstones" are still wondering about the wheel.

Since this was an article that was more on the short side, how about I throw in a video as well. Here's an excerpt from Joe Barbera's interview with the Television Academy Foundation, where he reflects on the inception of The Flintstones. Of course, if you've seen many interviews with Joe, a lot of what he says here will sound more than familiar, but this is probably one of the better interviews discussing this particular topic, so I felt it deserved to be shared here. Enjoy!