While the female cartoon characters from the 60s appeared to uphold traditional societal roles, the truth is that many of them were trailblazers in their own right. Indeed, these animated women were some of the strongest characters on television, even if most of them didn’t dominate in the boardroom.
Wilma Flintstone was a housewife and the matriarch on The Flinstones, which first aired in September of 1960. Wilma stayed at home (mostly) while husband Fred Flintstone went to work at the quarry every day. Wilma was no ordinary housewife, though, and helped change perceptions of female characters in television.
Wilma’s neighbor and wife of Barney Rubble, Betty Rubble was a female sidekick who often aided Wilma in her daily ventures. Betty was soft-spoken and polite, but she wasn’t afraid to speak up when necessary. Later on, Betty and Barney welcomed son Bamm-Bamm to the Rubble brood.
Helping drive the Peanuts gang’s various adventures, Peppermint Patty was a female character with spunk who didn’t take no for an answer. She had many friends on the show Peanuts – Charlie Brown, Linus Van Pelt, Lucy van Pelt, Sally Brown (Charlie’s little sister), Marcie, and others. Peppermint Patty was forceful but caring, deep down — especially for “Chuck” (what she called Charlie Brown).
Marcie was the female friend who Peppermint Patty referred to as her “best buddy.” She was smart and usually noticed when Peppermint’s schemes were about to go off track and helped correct course where she could. Always respectful, though, Marcie called Peppermint Patty “sir” and “boss.”
Lucy van Pelt
Linus’ sister and probably the biggest hothead among Peanuts characters, Lucy was also the most insecure and jealous. She had a habit of never being satisfied with any part of her life, always feeling some kind of way about something. She also had a perpetual crush on Schroeder, the local pianist talent.
Charlie’s little sister — or as he often referred to Sally, “my female sibling”– was a sweet and caring little girl, but she could also be gullible or spiteful. Sally had her own love interest, following Linus around like a puppy dog and often getting rejected in the process … and often “cheated” out of certain aspects of fun thanks to Linus’ big dreams and ideals. Who can forget the Great Pumpkin fiasco, after all?
The wife of George Jetson and mother to daughter Judy and son Elroy, Jane was a woman who knew how to run a family like a business, keeping everything running like a well-oiled automobile — or spaceship, as the case may be. Jane was the space-age counterpart to the female stereotype of the 1950s, wearing clean and shiny clothes with a perfect hairstyle (as well as an obsession for fashion). But she was also strong and opinionated, helping George make big family decisions throughout the show’s run (1962-63).
Cindy Yogi Bear’s girlfriend. She had a preppy look and sweet disposition, she used her intelligence (along with some help from Yogi’s sidekick Boo-Boo) to get Yogi out of trouble. The pair (and trio) were always getting into adventures together in Jellystone Park, which is where they lived.
Polly was a TV news reporter on the Underdog series, the focus of Shoeshine’s undying though unstated love, and the frequent “damsel in distress” whom Underdog himself hurried to rescue from some sticky situation or another in each episode. And, of course, Polly often pined for her superhero rescuer. While Polly played to many tropes of the day that portrayed women as weaker than men, she also broke stereotypes by virtue of her high-powered, high-profile career.
A spinster barnyard chicken who set her sights on Foghorn Leghorn, Miss Prissy was as prim and proper as her name. She wore a dress with an especially high collar, had perfect posture, and always carried herself with the utmost propriety. Foghorn Leghorn did not take kindly to Miss Prissy’s advances but tried his best to avoid hurting her feelings.
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