Fred Flintstone was the main character of the animated series The Flintstones, which aired in prime time on the ABC network from 1960-1966. Fred is stockily built with brown hair and is almost always drawn with a five o'clock shadow. He is generally drawn wearing a sleeveless orange tunic-thing with a jagged bottom edge that hangs loose at a level just above his knees. The tunic also had black triangular spots, which may have been intended to be suggestive of an animal skin. Fred also wore a blue necktie and never wore shoes. When excited, Fred spouted his immortal catchphrase, "Yabba Dabba Doo."
Fred was supposed to have been a caveman who lived in circumstances strikingly similar to those of the modern suburbanite. He lived in a single-family detached dwelling with his wife Wilma, his daughter Pebbles, and his dinosaur-dog Dino in the town of Bedrock. The house also featured reverse-engineered gadgets of modern convenience in the form of domesticated animals that performed the same tasks as modern inventions, such as the dishwashing baby mammoth or the bird-powered camera. These animal gadgets provided quite a few of the show's sight gags, although IMHO the humor value was negligible. The Flintstones' neighbors, Betty and Barney Rubble, were also very important characters in most of the show's plots. Fred worked at the Bedrock quarry, which was owned by Mr. Slate, who also often showed up in episodes. Fred was a member of (I think) the Solemn Order of Water Buffaloes, a men's lodge in Bedrock.
Toward the end of the series, the designers incorporated a small green spaceman named the Great Gazoo. Gazoo was nearly omnipotent if I recall correctly, and followed around Fred making mischief. Only Fred, Barney, children, and animals could see him, which was probably just as well considering the Great Gazoo's irritating on-screen presence and general thematic irrelevance. Again, that's just my opinion.
Although I haven't ever seen an episode of The Honeymooners, I have it on good faith that The Flintstones was an effort to have a sort of "Honeymooners in the stone age," and that as such Fred's character shares quite a bit with Jackie Gleason's character: stockiness, loudness, and a general lack of mental acuity. In fact, Jackie Gleason apparently considered suing to have The Flintstones taken off the air, but in the end decided it probably wouldn't go over very well with most of America, so he didn't. Since I don't know about that for sure, I tend to think that Fred's character shares quite a bit more with another cartoon: Homer Simpson. Both work in heavy industry, both are stocky bordering on fat, both are loud and have a tendency to act or speak before thinking, and both have that same five o'clock shadow permanently. Of course, the shows themselves are very different, but Homer and Fred share a lot of common ground as characters.
Since the Flintstones went off the air, Fred has not dropped out of the picture. He is featured in many a spin-off, and I'll list as many as possible here, although renamed reruns of some shows will be omitted:
Spinoffs featuring Fred:
The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show
The Flintstones Comedy Hour
Fred Flintstone and Friends
Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics
The New Fred and Barney Show
Fred and Barney Meet the Thing
Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo
The Flintstones Comedy Show
The Flintstone Kids
As far as I know, the only one of those in which Fred changed much from the way in which he was originally drawn was The Flintstone Kids. That show featured all of the Flintstones as children, and Fred was no exception. He was pretty much just drawn younger and they obviously enough changed his voice; otherwise he's still recognizable.
Fred has also appeared in three theatrically released movies, numerous TV specials, as well as made for TV movies:
The Man Called Flintstone
The Flintstones (live action)
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (live action)
A Flintstone Christmas
The Flintstones' Little Big League
The Flintstones' New Neighbors
The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone
The Flintstones: Fred's Final Fling
The Flintstones: Wind-up Wilma
The Flintstones: Jogging Fever
The Flintstones' 25th Anniversary Celebration
The Flintstone Kids: Just Say No
A Flintstone Family Christmas
The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones
I Yabba-Dabba Do!
A Flintstones' Christmas Carol
The Flintstones On the Rocks
Fred has also been a corporate spokesman on occasion, most notably for Fruity Pebbles cereal and Flintstones vitamins. The cereal ads usually feature Barney somehow contriving to make off with Fred's Fruity Pebbles, typically ending with Fred yelling, "Barney! My pebbles!" I haven't ever seen a Flintstones vitamins ad; to my knowledge the vitamins themselves are simply shaped like the Flintstones and the endorsement ends there.
Fred was voiced by Daws Butler in the original Flagstones screentest, followed by Alan Reed from 1960-1977. After that, the job fell to Henry Corgan, although Jeff Bergman played Fred in 2001. In the two live action movies, Fred was played by the great John Goodman (an apt choice indeed) in the first instance and the lesser-known Mark Addy for Viva Rock Vegas.
panamaus told me that from 1960-1962 that the Flintstones was sponsored by Winston cigarettes. At the end of each program, they ran an ad that featured Fred and Barney smoking cigarettes at the end. Bizarre, indeed, but apparently true.