50 Saturday Morning Cartoons From The 1960s, THE FINTSTONES to SUPERHEROES and SCOOBY-DOO
There was nothing like being a kid in the 1960s, watching Saturday morning cartoons, from THE FLINTSTONES to superheroes and much more. Here’s a look back at 50 of those shows.
1. The Flintstones (1960 to 1966)
Audiences met Fred and Wilma Flintstone, as well as their next-door neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble, 60 years ago. Set in the town of Bedrock, it deals with the guys (usually under Fred’s lead) trying one crazy scheme after another, and their wives having to pick up the pieces when it inevitably goes wrong. Think of it as The Honeymooners, but, you know, set in the Stone Age.
2. The Bugs Bunny Show (1960 to 2000)
3. The Alvin Show (1961 to 1962)
4. Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse (1962 to 1963)
Batman creator Bob Kane came up with this idea about a crime-fighting cat and mouse that in many ways managed to capture the campy feel that would make up the Adam West Batman series four years later. Their rogues gallery includes The Frog, Harry Gorilla, Professor Shaggy Dog, Rodney Rodent, The Fox, The Great Hambone and Outrageous Cat (Courageous’ cousin).
5. The Jetsons (1962 to 1963, 1984 to 1985 and 1987)
Animation producers Hanna-Barbera had hit paydirt with their 1960 primetime cartoon The Flintstones, Seeking a follow-up, the duo decided that they would look to the future in the form of the then-distant 21st century, which resulted in The Jetsons, a cartoon about America’s first space-age family. The focus is on George Jetson, an employee of Spacely Space Sprockets, and much of the comedy came from interactions with his wife, Jane; daughter Judy, his boy Elroy, and their mutt with a speech impediment (think Scooby-Doo), Astro. Initially it only ran one season, but that was enough: people never forgot it.
6-10. Tobor: 8th Man (1963 to 1964) and Other Anime Shows (-1969)
11. The Magilla Gorilla Show (1963 to 1967)
How much is that gorilla in the window? Take our advice, at any price, a gorilla like Magilla is mighty nice … sorry, broke into the theme song. This one from Hanna-Barbera features the gorilla in Mr. Peebles pet shop hoping against hope that someone will take him home with them (awww). The show also had short segments featuring the feuding Punkin’ Puss and Mushmouse, and Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-a-Long.
12. Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963 to 1966)
Before he was Maxwell Smart on Get Smart, Don Adams provided his voice to the character of Tennessee Tuxedo, a penguin. Along with walrus friend Chumley, he has different adventures in their home base of the Megapolis Zoo. Oh, and TT’s favorite expression is, “Tennessee Tuxedo will not fail!”
13. Johnny Quest (1964 to 1965)
Yet another show from Hanna-Barbera, but this one was very different. The title character is a teenager who accompanies his father, Dr. Benton C. Quest; special agent Race Bannon and Hadji Singh, a Kolkata orphan adopted by Benton Quest on different action-packed journeys. Joining them is Johnny’s dog, Bandit. The animation is more realistic as are the storylines, despite the fact they could delve into areas of sci-fi. This series aired on ABC in prime time.
14. The Peter Potamus Show (1964 to 1965)
Equipped with his “hippo hurricane power,” Peter can let out big blasts of air, which he frequently has to do as he and his buddy, a monkey named So-So, take their hot air balloon to different places. The show also included segments Breezley and Sneezley and Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey. From Hanna-Barbera.
15. Underdog (1964 to 1967)
There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here! Popular cartoon series that’s a parody of Superman with Wally Cox voicing both the title character and his alter-ego, Shoeshine Boy. Underdog battled villains like Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff, and was constantly having to save this show’s Lois Lane, Sweet Polly Purebread. To do so, as he would announce in each episode, “In the secret compartment of my ring I fill, with an Underdog super energy pill.” Yes, that’s right. Underdog popped pills. But, you know, it was the 60’s.
16. The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show (1965 to 1967)
We are very quickly moving into the era of the Saturday morning superhero explosion. This hour-long show was split in two, dealing with the ultra-powerful ant of the title and the superspy squirrel. Atom’s back up cartoons were Precious Pupp and The Hillbilly Bears, while Secret’s were Squiddly Diddly and Winsome Witch.
17. The Beatles (1965 to 1969)
Throughout their relatively short career, The Beatles pretty much paved the way for others, and not only in terms of music. ABC licensed the rights to the band for this animated series that they had nothing to do with beyond the music that served as the title, story inspiration, and soundtrack to each episode. Before then, no one had done an animated series based on real people and, although it would take a few years, it started a trend. From today’s perspective the show is pretty bad, but back then, while in the throes of Beatlemania, all of it was awesome. Wonder how many people cared that the guys they hired to voice John, Paul, George, and Ringo sounded nothing like John, Paul, George, or Ringo. Thirty-nine episodes in all were produced. We’re still waiting for a DVD or Blu-ray release. C’mon, Fabs, what are you waiting for?
18. The New Three Stooges (1965 to 1966)
If you were a fan of Golden Age Hollywood, this was a fun opportunity to have some new adventures with The Three Stooges, featuringthe voices of Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe DeRita. From 1966 to 1967 the formula was repeated with A Laurel and Hardy Cartoon and, then, 1967 to 1968 with The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show for which Bud Abbott supplied his own voice.
19. Sinbad, Jr. and His Magic Belt (1965 to 1966)
Sinbad the Sailor had a son (apparently) and he’s the star of this show, sailing the sea with his parrot, Salty (voiced by Mel Blanc) in search of those who need help. To provide it, he tightens his belt, which gives him the strength of 50 men. Yeah, it sounds odd to us, too.
20. Batfink (1966)
Given the success of the Batman TV series that premiered the same year, this take-off was quickly produced with 100 five-minute episodes airing between 1966 and 1967. Accompanied by his sidekick, Karate, Batfink takes on many villains, usually responding to their firing guns at him, “Your bullets cannot harm me. My wings are like a shield of steel” (though one time one of the bad guys responded, “Yeah, but your head is like a marshmallow,” before hitting him in the skull with a large mallet).
21. Frankenstein, Jr. and The Impossibles (1966 to 1967)
In the Frankenstein Jr. portion of things, Frankie is now a giant robot (voiced by The Addams Family‘s Ted Cassidy) along with his young creator, Buzz Conroy. And with The Impossibles, on the outside they seem like a Beatles-like trio, but in reality they’re superheroes Multi Man, Fluid Man and Coil Man.
22. King Kong (1966 to 1969)
Produced in Japan, this show ran on ABC Saturday mornings for 26 episodes. Basically Kong decides to befriend a family and ends up going on their wild adventures involving mad scientists, robots, and other monsters.
23. The Lone Ranger (1966 to 1969)
In a nutshell, it’s the Lone Ranger (voiced by Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shepard Menken) making the Old West safe, only this time in animated form.
24. The Mighty Heroes (1966 to 1967)
Animator Ralph Bakshi had the bright idea to spoof the whole superhero thing and did it with this somewhat subversive series that takes on something like the Justice League. His heroes are Strong Man, Rope Man, Tornado Man, Cuckoo Man and Diaper Man. Quite the motley group.
25-27. The New Adventures of Superman (1966 to 1970) and Other Filmation Shows
The Man of Steel was brought back to television for the first time since George Reeves had played him in The Adventures of Superman. Here he’s voiced by Bud Collyer, who had previously brought the character to vocal life in the Max Fleischer animated theatrical shorts of the 1940s and on the radio show. These shorts would later become part of The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure and The Batman/Superman Hour.
28. Space Ghost (1966)
Space Ghost is kind of like Batman in space, armed with weapons and flying around in a cool ship. He’s accompanied by Jan and Jace as his sidekicks, along with their pet monkey, Blip. Years later, he would become the host of his own animated/live action hybrid talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
29. Birdman and the Galaxy Trio (1967 to 1969)
Birdman is a winged superhero who gets his powers from the sun, while interstellar heroes the Galaxy Trio consists of Vapor Man, Meteor Man and Gravity Girl. Honestly, these shows were very quickly becoming interchangeable.
30. Fantastic Four (1967 to 1970)
Marvel’s first family of their superhero universe are brought to animated life with stories that feel like they’ve come right out of the comic book. Characters are Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic, who can stretch his body), Sue Richards (the Invisible Girl), Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) and Ben Grimm (the rock-covered Thing).
31. George of the Jungle (1967)
From Jay Ward comes this parody of Tarzan, with George doing the whole jungle king thing, but also proving himself to be a complete klutz (the title song warns him to “watch out for that tree”). Years later Brendan Fraser would play him in a live-action version.
32. The Herculoids (1967)
Heavy sci-fi and fantasy from Hanna-Barbera. A family described as “space barbarians,” consisting of Zandor, Tara and their son Domo, go into battle against extraterrestrial baddies accompanied by Zok, their dragon; Tundro, a rhinoceros-like creature; Igoo, an ape made of stone; and Gleep, a shape-shifter.
33. Journey to the Center of the Earth (1967 to 1969)
Based more on the live action 1959 film of the same name rather than the novel written by Jules Verne, the show is best summed up by its opening narration: “Long ago, a lone explorer named Arne Saknussen made a fantastic descent to the fabled lost kingdom of Atlantis at the Earth’s core. After many centuries, his trail was discovered: first by me, Professor Oliver Lindenbrook, my niece Cindy, student Alec McEwen, our guide Lars and his duck Gertrude. But we were not alone. The evil Count Saknussen, last descendant of the once noble Saknussen family, had followed us … to claim the center of the Earth for his power-mad schemes. He ordered his brute-like servant, Torg, to destroy our party. But the plan backfired, sealing the entrance forever. And so, for us, began a desperate race to the Earth’s core … to learn the secret of the way back. This is the story of our new journey to the center of the Earth!”
34. Moby Dick and The Mighty Mightor (1967 to 1969)
After a while, you’re really got to wonder who came up with these pairings. In the Moby Dick portion of things, following a shipwreck a pair of teens are rescued by the great white whale (which is not known for its kindness in the Herman Melville novel) and together take on underwater dangers. And then there’s The Mighty Mightor, a teenage caveman who finds a mysterious club that endows him with powers. Uh, okay.
35. Samson and Goliath (1967 to 1968)
Taking a motorbike around the country, teen Samson and his dog, Goliath, do their best to right wrongs. Making it easier to do so is the fact that when his golden wristbands are brought together, he becomes the oh-so-powerful Samson and his dog becomes a lion. Together they take on all sorts of villains.
36. Shazzan! (1967 to 1969)
A genie named Shazzan helps brother and sister Chuck and Nancy as they make their way through a mystical Arabian world while riding the flying camel Kaboobie. When in danger, they bring two halves of a ring together to summon Shazzan.
37. Spider-Man (1967 to 1970)
Spidey’s had a long history of adaptations, but this was his very first appearance and it’s pretty loyal to the comic (despite some really limited animation at times). It also gave us the famous “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can” theme song, which is gift enough.
38. The Adventures of Gulliver (1968 to 1969)
Inspired by Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver Travels, the show has Gary Gulliver, his father and their dog, Tagg, involved in a shipwreck. In the aftermath, his father is missing while Gary and Tagg find themselves ashore Lilliput, where they are giants and the citizens are tiny. Over the course of the 17 episodes produced, Gary tries to uncover the mystery of what happened to his father.
39-44. The Archie Show (1968 to 1969) and Spin-Offs
Archie, Reggie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the gang enjoyed a full decade of animated adventures. Here’s what we had: The Archie Show (1968-69), The Archie Comedy Hour (1969-70), Archie’s Funhouse (1970-71), which is probably the most memorable in that it had an audience of kids reacting to the show and a giant jukebox; Archie’s TV Funnies (1971-73), The U.S. of Archie (1974-76), and, finally, The New Archie and Sabrina Hour (1977-78). If you miss Riverdale, you could always check out the dark, gritty, angsty live-action version currently airing on the CW. Nah!
45. Fantastic Voyage (1968 to 1969)
Based on the 1967 feature film, this show follows the the crew of the CMDF (Combined Miniature Defense Force), who are reduced to microscopic size along with a high-tech flying submarine and given 12 hours to accomplish each mission before they grow back to normal size.
46. Go-Go Gophers (1968 to 1969)
Okay, get ready for this one. The setting is the Old West and the U.S. Army — in the form of foxes in uniform — are attempting to capture and (one would assume) kill the two remaining gophers — Native American-like running Board and Ruffled Feathers — of Gopher Gulch. Were they really going with this allegory? Yeesh.
47. Wacky Races (1968 to 1969)
Each week was a new race in North America between 11 different race cars. Among the teams were Dick Dasterdly and Muttley in the Mean Machine, The Gruesome Twosome in a horror-themed car; Penelope Pitstop (the only woman driver on the show) in the Compact Pussycat; The Ant Hill Mob, featuring a group of dwarf gangsters; and Peter Perfect in the Turbo Terrific. There would be two spin-offs from this show: Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines (1969 to 1970) and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (1969 to 1970).
48. Cattanooga Cats (1969)
The approach was similar to the one taken by The Banana Splits, only there were no live action segments. Instead the Cattanooga Cats band was featured in between animated segments like Around the World in 79 Days and It’s the Wolf!. You don’t remember this one? Nope, neither do we.
49. The Hardy Boys (1969)
Brothers Joe and Frank Hardy, along with some of their friends, tour the country as a band and solve mysteries between gigs. Ah, to be young again.
50. Hot Wheels (1969 to 1971)
ABC said this was not a tie-in to Mattel’s toys of the same name, but all we know is that when the show is focused on the “Hot Wheels Racing Club,” we’re gonna have to say that they weren’t being honest.
51. The Pink Panther Show (1969 to 1978)
The Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau, the Ant and the Ardvark — these were all animated theatrical shorts that were brought together on this show. They actually managed to work well together unlike a lot of other series that had segments that just made no sense.
52. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969 to 1972)
A dog with a speech impediment following four teenagers who solve seemingly supernatural mysteries does not sound like the sort of thing that would make for a television classic. But can you argue against the merits of that concept when its name is Scooby-Doo — especially if it’s been around for half a century? Nope, neither can we.
The show’s popularity has given birth to nine spin-off series and more animated and live action movies than you can throw a Scooby-Snack at!