20 Cartoon Characters From The 1960s Who Defined Our Childhood
With so many channels and on-demand everything, kids are flooded with as many cartoons as they can stand these days -- but in the pre-cable days it was a different story. You had to remember to tune in at the right time on the right night to catch a prime-time cartoon like Jonny Quest or Mr. Magoo. If that was too much to manage, there was always Saturday -- just roll out of bed and plop down in front of the set and you'd see some sort of cartoon.
Classic cartoon characters of the '50s and '60s strove to be funny in a wholesome way; there was no sex or bad language, and the dastardly adversaries always lost in the end. Of course, there was a little violence, as cartoon characters tend to whack each other with hammers and fall off of cliffs with no lasting consequences.
Many of the best classic cartoon characters of the '50s and '60s were produced by Hanna-Barbera or Warner Bros., although some smaller production companies -- such as Jay Ward Studios, which created Rocky & Bullwinkle -- achieved some success. Hanna-Barbera often brought us sitcom-style stories, from the likes of The Flintstones and The Jetsons, while Warner Bros. focused on slapstick shorts starring Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig and other WB colleagues.
It almost didn't matter -- in the three-network days, kids would probably consume any cartoon -- but fortunately, the writers, animators and voice artists behind these classic cartoons cared enough to treat them as the art form they were. If you catch these today, you'll find they truly stand the test of time.
'Oh, Magoo, You've Done It Again...'
Mr. Magoo was a billed as a wealthy, short, old man. His near-sightedness continuously led to him finding himself in many compromising situations. It was no secret that he had horrible vision, but that in unison with his eccentric and stubborn personality only added to his never-ending tribulations. Mr. Magoo, however, was a loveable character, with a terrific voice thanks to Jim Backus (Thurston Howell from Gilligan's Island), and thus earned the show two Academy Awards.
'I Say, I Say...'
Foghorn Leghorn was an iconic cartoon character not necessarily exclusive to the 50’s and 60’s. This outspoken rooster has actually proven to be timeless. He has been portrayed as being hard of hearing, but that only served to make his point!
'That's All Folks!'
Porky Pig was not a new (cartoon) kid on the block in the 50’s and 60’s but no less visible. Porky Pig was one of the pioneer cartoon characters of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies brand. This loveable cartoon character was definitely a huge part of the cartoon experience of countless children from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and so on… Porky Pig was a cartoon star in his own right with his signature stutter. Porky was and is well recognized for the catchphrase, "Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th... That's all, folks!" Like Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig was voiced by Mel Blanc for decades.
'Here I Come To Save The Day!'
Mighty Mouse was known for his superpowers including his super strength and ability to be in the right place at just the right time! Along with being super strong, he had the ability to fly through the air and turn back time. Oh, if only….
'I Hate Mieces To Pieces!'
Huckleberry Hound was a lovable, blue dog with a BIG personality. He was well-intentioned, low key and spoke with a southern drawl. This cartoon dog was a gentleman’s dog! Like several of the Hanna-Barbera characters listed here, Huckleberry was voiced by Daws Butler.
'Meet George Jetson...'
George Jetson was a super, futuristic, cartoon husband and father. He embodied the very concept of the all-American (space) guy. His main mission in life was to make his family’s life easier; as if they had it so hard! Never mind, though, because who could fault a guy who loved his (space) dog, Astro? Many Hanna-Barbera series were built on family dynamics or characters borrowed from other sources -- The Jestons was said to have been inspired by the comic strip Blondie.
Tom And Jerry Didn't Speak
Tom and Jerry were a cat and mouse duo. As you probably remember, Tom was the cat and Jerry was the mouse. As expected, Tom was forever trying to “get” Jerry but never really succeeded. The couple were to have been natural enemies and that being the case, they were always at odds. Truth be told, though, it seemed as though they had a secret, although unlikely, affection for each other.
'Get Set, Get Ready, Here Comes Ruff And Reddy...'
Ruff and Reddy were a lovable dog and cat duo. Ruff was a good natured, but not overly intelligent, canine and Reddy was the stereotypical, sly feline. Unlike Tom and Jerry, they were not adversaries but rather steadfast friends and partners in crime.
A Boy And His Dog
This adventure show from Hanna-Barbera may have only lasted for a year, but the story of a boy adventurer and his family team has continued to inspire countless imitators. This primetime series (seriously) introduced audiences to a multicultural crew who criss-crossed the world with action packed storylines and retro-futuristic tech that we still want to play with today.
Jonny Quest seriously had everything: mummies, frog men, and even a WALKING EYE! Who wouldn't want to ride around with the Quest family and solve mysteries when you've got that kind of adventure at hand? The series returned in the 1980s, but it's the '60s incarnation that we'll always remember.
'There’s No Need To Fear, Underdog Is Here!'
Underdog was a cartoon crime fighting hero. To the general and unassuming public he was a humble and lowly shoeshine boy. Most of the Underdog episodes included scenarios that involved his one and only true love, Polly Purebred, being in distress. He never failed to come to her rescue, which made him a hero to all!
'Yabba Dabba Doo!'
Fred Flintstone was the patriarch and boss of the, “modern stone age family," or so he thought! He was a well-meaning, lug nut of a guy that only wanted to do right by his beautiful wife, Wilma, and their daughter, Pebbles. He often undermined his own efforts. No worries, though, because Wilma was always there to pick up the pieces.Fred's relationship with his best friend, Barney Rubble, was based on the Jackie Gleason-Art Carney shtick from The Honeymooners.
'Oh, The Shame!'
Augie Doggie’s dad only ever wanted to impart meaningful, parental guidance to his pup. He aspired to be the best doggie daddy, ever. Unfortunately, in Augie’s eyes, his doggie daddy always fell just short of his expectations. Augie was forever overdramatizing any situation! Augie was known for his signature green shirt, as if a dog would wear clothing, while his dad wore only a dog collar. He would always say, "Oh, the shame..."
'I'm Smarter Than The Average Bear!'
Yogi was originally a BFF of Huckleberry Hound and actually ended up outshining the lovable, blue pooch. Yogi was so charming, with his gentleman’s necktie and perfect manners, that he earned a starring role on his own show. Yogi Bear was most likely best known for his irresistible fondness for "pic-a-nic" baskets. He aspired to be the "model" bear but always found himself in trouble with Mr. Ranger.
'Top Cat. The Most Effec-Tu-Al Top Cat. Whose Intellectual Close Friends Get To Call Him TC'
Top Cat was a yellow cat who was the leader of a gang of street cats and wore a purple hat and vest. The show only featured 30 episodes and ran on television from 1961 until 1962 on ABC.
Top Cat was a con man and the main characters of the show were his gang of street cats and a local policeman, Officer Dibble. Numerous episodes were about them trying to get food from various people and places of business since Top Cat and his gang lived on the streets.
Officer Dibble had his hands full trying to break up Top Cat's shenanigans!
'Hey, Rocky, Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat!'
In the late 1950's, two foreign spies named Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale began their long feud with Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle the Moose.
The beloved characters made their debut on Rocky and His Friends which later became known as The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show on November 19, 1959. The cartoon also introduced classic segments like Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Fractured Fairy Tales, which were were comedic re-enactments of popular fairy tales.
Kids loved the witty characters, while adults enjoyed the social commentaries and satire.
'Heavens To Murgatroyd!'
Last, but definitely not least, Snagglepuss was a clever pink mountain lion who sported an upturned collar, shirt cuffs and a string tie. He aspired to be a famous stage actor and was known for catch phrases like, “Heavens to Murgatroyd” and “Exit, stage left.”
These and other cartoon characters are definitely a huge part of the childhood memories of many. Times just seemed so much more innocent and simple back then. It is fun to look back and remember!
'Scooby Doo, Where Are You?!'
Who knew that a mystery show about a talking dog and his four teenage friends who drive around in a van solving mysteries would become a global phenomenon that spanned decades, mediums, and genres? Definitely not Hanna-Barbera, who created the series as a cheap way to fill Saturday mornings. With its canned laughter, recycled animation, and stoner sense of humor it's honestly wild that this series became such a hit.
Who cares about all of that? We love Scoob and Mystery Inc, and we're not the only ones. The original series has spun off into dozens of animated and live action adaptations on both film and television, and there are lunch boxes, action figures, and coloring books to go along with all of that. Sounds like someone deserves a Scooby Snack.
'Look out! Here comes Spider-Man'
This Web Head has been bopping around New York City on the pages of Marvel Comics since the 1960s, and he was first adapted onto television at the end of the Grooviest decade. Spidey swung into our homes on a regular basis where he fought villains like Sandman, Mysterio, and the Vulture while dishing out quips as hard as he dished out vigilante justice. The series only ran for three seasons starting in 1967, but it's not like the guy's been hard up for work since this beloved series went off the air.
'Sugar sugar, honey honey'
There was a glut of Archie content in the 1960s (as there has been in every decade of the 20th century since Archie and his Riverdale gang first graced the pages of Archie Comics), but The Archie Show and The Archie Comedy Hour are two of our favorite iterations. It helps that in 1969 the fictional group The Archies had a massive number one hit with "Sugar, Sugar" a song that's been stuck in our head for more than 50 years.
'Drat and double drat'
Are you aware that once a week between 1968 and 1969 that there was a group of unhinged, "wacky" racers who tore across North America hoping to become the "World's Wackiest Racer?" This truly insane show only ran for one season but it showed that Hanna-Barbera liked to get weird with their work. We still quote this show on a regular bass, especially when there's a particularly annoying caveman driver next to us on the highway.