Cartoons have been entertaining us for nearly a century! The first animated cartoons on TV were created in the 1950s with a very limited style in black and white. Crusader Rabbit is believed to be the first cartoon to get play time on TV. He was then followed by Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw. UPA, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros, MGM and Disney were all competing and pushing the technology to produce a higher quality experience for viewers.
Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones was the first successful animated TV series in the U.S. It had a long run from 1960-66 and has since been rerun continuously. Fred and Barney are the stand-out characters on the series. Continuously, conniving and creating situations then trying to cover their tracks, these two were the constant frustration of their wives, Wilma and Betty. The Flintstones voice over talent includes: Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Mel Blanc, Bea Benaderet and Gerry Johnson.
The early 60s found The Jetsons airing on primetime. George Jetson and his family lived in the futuristic space age of 2062. Originally aired between 1962 and 1963, the cartoon has been rerun for decades. It was the first cartoon to ever be broadcast in color on ABC. The voice over talent for The Jetsons includes: George O'Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, Don Messick and Jean Vander Pyl.
Another of Hanna-Barbera's primetime animated hits was Top Cat. It aired from 1961 to 1962 with 30 episodes produced on ABC. T.C., the main character, is the head of a gang of NYC alley cats. He and his gang frequently have run-ins with the NYPD and Officer Charlie Dibble. The officer is always trying, but never succeeds, in evicting T.C. and his gang from the alley. The voice actors who worked on this series were: Arnold Stang, Paul Frees, Maurice Gosfield, Leo DeLyon, Marvin Kaplan, John Stevenson, Allen Jenkins and Jean Vander Pyl.
Thanks to highly successful cartoons aired in the 50s and 60s, consumers have demanded and received specialty content stations such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney Channel which have brought around the clock access to cartoons, both vintage and brand new, airing cartoons such as SpongeBob, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Rug Rats, and Dora the Explorer. Cartoon Network Retro is another good example of giving consumers access to cartoons that they grew up with, featuring cartoon programming over the decades.
Fox's The Simpsons (which debuted on December 17, 1989) tops the list of successful animated sitcoms to date. This series epitomizes the most oddball American working class family on the block, the Simpson family. They include Homer, the head of household, wife Marge, level-headed and smart (unlike her husband), their son Bart and daughters Lisa and Maggie. Voice talent for The Simpson includes: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer. Production is still going strong and the series has surpassed its 450th episode on January 10, 2010.
After The Simpsons, Fox aired another animated hit King of the Hill. The series centered around on the Hill family, a Methodist family in the fictional town or Arlen, Texas. Main characters included parents Hank and Peggy Hill, their son Bobby and niece Luanne Platter. The characters voice overs were done by: Mike Judge, Kathy Najimy, Pamela Adlon, Brittany Murphy, Johnny Hardwick and Stephen Root. This show was canceled after its 13th season.
The cartoon and animation industries have hit their stride and continue to appeal to both young and old alike.