Wilma Flintstone (maiden name Pebble or Slaghoople—see below) is a fictional character in the television animated series The Flintstones. She is the beautiful red-headed wife of caveman Fred Flintstone, daughter of Pearl Slaghoople, mother of Pebbles Flintstone and grandmother to Roxy and Chip Rubble. Her best friends were her next door neighbors, Betty and Barney Rubble.
Wilma's personality was based on that of Alice Kramden, wife of Ralph Kramden on the 1950s television series The Honeymooners. Thus, much like Alice, Wilma played the strong-willed, level-headed person in her marriage, often criticizing Fred for pursuing his various ill-fated schemes. Wilma would also often be the one to bail out Fred when one of his schemes landed him in trouble.
Fictional character biography
While the mid-1980s spin-off series The Flintstone Kids depicts Wilma as a child, the series seems to be mostly apocryphal due to its presenting Wilma as a childhood friend of Fred and Barney (the original series asserted that they met as young adults) as well as using the last name Slaghoople instead of the original Pebbles. Still, the series' depictions that Wilma had younger sisters and that her father—who apparently died by the time Wilma reached adulthood—ran a prehistoric computer business might be taken as valid. Wilma did mention having a married sister in the sixth season.
As a young adult, Wilma worked with Betty as cigarette girls/waitresses at a resort. There, they first met and fell in love with their future husbands, Fred and Barney (who were working there as bellhops). Wilma's mother, Pearl Pebbles Slaghoople, also met her future son-in-law, and took a disliking toward Fred (and vice-versa), starting a long-lasting rivalry between the two.
Eventually, Wilma and Fred were married, and Wilma became a homemaker, keeping house with such prehistoric aids as a baby elephant vacuum cleaner, pelican washing machine, and so forth. She was also a good cook. One of her specialties was Gravelberry Pie - the recipe for which she eventually sold to the Safestone supermarket chain. Wilma also enjoyed volunteering for various charitable and women's organizations in Bedrock, shopping, and (occasionally) getting to meet the celebrities of their world, including "Tony Curtis", Rock Quarry and Cary Grant. By Noyan Deniz Yalçınkaya
In the original series' third season, Wilma became pregnant, and gave birth to the couple's only child, Pebbles.
When Pebbles was a teenager, Wilma (along with Betty) gained employment as a reporter for one of Bedrock's newspapers, the Daily Granite (a spoof of the Daily Planet of Superman fame), under the editorial guidance of Lou Granite (a parody of The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Lou Grant). While employed there, she shared various adventures with prehistoric superhero Captain Caveman, who (in a secret identity) also worked for the newspaper (a la Clark Kent).
Later still, after Pebbles grew up and left home, Wilma started a successful catering business with her neighbor and friend Betty, before becoming a grandmother to Pebbles' twin children, Chip and Roxy.
Wilma is an unbearably beautiful and very attractive cavewoman. She and Betty both tied in several beauty contests. She has swirly orange hair, wears a white loin cloth/dress, a pearl necklace, and red lipstick (in some specials and shows it's pink). Another notable thing about Wilma is that she has black dots for eyes.
Maiden name controversy: Pebble or Slaghoople?
Wilma's maiden name has been a source of dispute. Several early episodes in the original series clearly stated Wilma's maiden name was "Pebble." In the episode "The Entertainer" (P-44), Wilma's old friend Greta Gravel remembers her as "Wilma Pebble". Again, in "Dial S for Suspicion" (P-74), one of Wilma's old boyfriends Rodney Whetstone calls her "Wilma Pebble." It could be possible that Pebble is her middle name. This wouldn't be illogical, due to the potential difficulty of pronouncing Slaghoople.
However, later episodes and spin-offs also firmly state her maiden name was indeed "Slaghoople," based upon the name of Wilma's mother in the original series, Pearl Slaghoople. Flintstones' writer Earl Kress explained the discrepancy as such: "[I]t's just as simple as [Hanna-Barbera] not caring about the continuity." Maybe Mr. Slaghoople was Pearl's second husband and he adopted Wilma when they married. In The Flintstones movie, when Wilma is leaving Fred to live with her Mother, Fred shouts "Come back here, Wilma Slaghoople". ("Sufflehooper" was also used at least once.)
Wilma and Fred's daughter is named "Pebbles" after Wilma's maiden surname.
In the first few episodes of the series, particularly the first episode, Wilma (as is Betty) is portrayed as a domestically abusive wife, throwing a tantrum and physically assaulting her husband (or at least attempting to do so) upon discovering that he and Barney had fooled her and Betty so that they could go bowling, despite the fact that Fred had a bandaged head injury to the point that he and Barney actually run away on the Flintstone Flyer, and even after six hours, she and Betty show no remorse for their behaviour and look forward to hurting their husbands again once they land. Also, in the same episode, she and Betty are shown to be willing to assault their husbands violently in public without second thoughts, demonstrated when they bash Fred and Barney over the heads with their heavy handbags in the bowling alley in front of their teammates and several other players. In subsequent episodes, she is shown to get angry but never harms Fred seriously, often lecturing him or slapping him for his exceptionally bad behaviour. For example, in the 21st episode of Season 2, Wilma can be seen biting Fred's finger when he points at her.
She and Fred argue often because of Fred's laziness, and because Fred sometimes flirts with other women. In the 1994 live-action film The Flintstones, Fred's gorgeous secretary seduces him very often, and Wilma walks in and sees Fred drooling over her half naked body while she sexually entices him. In A Flintstones Christmas Carol, Wilma gets upset at Fred for forgetting Pebbles and being an idiot, but she favors him at the end of the film. In Flintstones: On the Rocks, her and Fred's marriage is not working out and they consider a divorce, but they reconcile at the end.
Jean Vander Pyl was the original voice artist of Wilma until her death in 1999. Since then, Tress MacNeille has taken over as Wilma's voice even when she voiced her in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.
In the live-action film The Flintstones, Wilma was played by Elizabeth Perkins (although in the film, Vander Pyl made a cameo at Fred's Surprise party for being promoted at the Quarry in the conga line behind Dino). In the prequel film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, she was played by Kristen Johnston.