Anyone who's watched enough of The Flintstones will have noticed that the character of Barney Rubble had three distinct voices over the course of the series:

  • For the first season and the earlier part of the second, Mel Blanc voiced the character in a high-pitched, smart-alecky voice.
  • For five non-consecutive episodes of the second season, Daws Butler voiced the character.
  • For the later part of the second season and onwards, Mel Blanc voiced the character in a lower-pitched, dopey voice.

It's well known that the reason Daws Butler briefly voiced the character is that he was filling in while Mel Blanc was recuperating from a devastating car accident. What I've never seen explained, however, is why Mel Blanc changed Barney's voice after returning to the show.

At first I thought that the change in voice may have been an unintentional side-effect of injuries Blanc sustained during his accident. However, two pieces of evidence count against this:

  1. According to Blanc himself, in an interview he gave about three months after his accident, the accident did not affect his voice: "They kept me in the hospital 70 days. That's a long time. But I'm grateful the accident didn't hurt my voice."
  2. As far as I know, Blanc didn't alter the performance of any of the other characters he voiced at the time.

So why did Blanc change Barney's voice so drastically? Did Blanc himself, or anyone else connected with the production of the show, ever offer an explanation?

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