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

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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