Nostalgic Icons: Celebrating Cartoon Characters of the 1960s

By Sarah Norman | May 1, 2024

20 Cartoon Characters From The 1960s Who Defined Our Childhood

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We're looking at the best cartoon characters of the '50s and '60s -- what do you think, is Rocky the Moose the winner? Source: YouTube

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.

Hanna-Barbera Made The Defining Cartoons Of Our Childhoods

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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.