The Dick Van Dyke Show completely changed the sound and personality of George Jetson

Morey Amsterdam was the first cast to play the Space Age dad. It got messy after that.

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On May 18, 1962, a syndicated Hollywood gossip column broke some major news in the world of animation. The blurb declared: 

Starring "voices" for the new "The Jetsons" animated cartoon series, now signed for Sunday nights on ABC-TV, will be Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll. Since they will be required to work only one day a week, Morey will continue as a regular on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Pat hopes to do the same on The Danny Thomas Show.

That's right, Hanna-Barbera, the studio behind the hit primetime cartoon The Flintstones, had a new out-of-time family in the pipeline. The Jetsons would take a look 100 years into the future, at a nuclear (no pun intended) family living in the incredible world of 2062.

And two popular sitcom stars were tapped to play the lead characters, George and Jane Jetson. 

The actors behind Fred and Wilma Flintstone, Alan Reed and Jean Vander Pyl, were mostly known for the voice-over work, though Reed certainly had lots of live-action television on his resume. No knock on those two, but they were not at the level of fame and acclaim of Amsterdam and Carroll, actors with Emmy nominations and Emmy trophies. Amsterdam, alongside Rose Marie, was a comedy riot as writer Buddy on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Carroll had a similar scene-stealing, supporting role on Make Room for Daddy (a.k.a. The Danny Thomas Show) as Bunny. Bunny and Buddy — how perfect!

Alas, if you know The Jetsons, you know that Amsterdam and Carroll did not end up voicing George and Jane. In fact, their tenure on the project lasted a whopping two weeks. So what happened? 

Like many Hollywood tales, it came down to contracts, money, and sponsors.

The two stars were "forced" off The Jetsons. Here is an excerpt from a subsequent trade column dated June 1, 1962:

Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll have been forced off as "voice" stars of ABC's new animated "The Jetsons" cartoon series. Too many sponsor conflicts, what with Morey being a regular on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Pat likewise on The Danny Thomas Show.

Big corporations like Proctor & Gamble and Kent Cigarettes sponsored The Dick Van Dyke Show in its first two seasons, around the time that The Jetsons would have been in development. Brands like Dodge and the American Tobacco Company were backing The Danny Thomas Show. In its single 1962–63 season, The Jetsons touted its sponsor, Scotch tape. Make of that what you will.

In the end, Morey Amsterdam was not allowed to do The Jetsons. And he was upset about it. He filed a lawsuit over it, in fact.

A UPI wire story in 1963 explained:

Actress Pat Carroll and comedian Morey Amsterdam filed $27,600 suit Friday claiming breach of their contract to do voice characterizations for a television cartoon series. Miss Carroll and Amsterdam contended in their superior court suit that they entered into a contract last April 28 with Hanna-Barbera Productions to do voice characterizations for the "Jetsons" and were to receive $500 a segment—with a guarantee of 24 segments for 1962-63. Both said the defendant, Hanna-Barbera, failed to use them for the voice work.

George O'Hanlon instead joined the cartoon cast as George. Penny Singleton, who had previously played the comic strip character Blondie, voiced Jane.

But imagine how different a Morey Amsterdam-voiced George would have been!

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VaughnBaskin 15 days ago
Yeah! But luckly Bill and Joe has made the right choice with George and Penny.
F5Twitster 16 days ago
“George O'Hanlon instead joined the cartoon cast as George. Penny Singleton, who had previously played the comic strip character Blondie, voiced Jane.”

O’Hanlon, who was the great-uncle of a friend of mine, was a respected character actor, best known for starring in the long-running Warner Bros.’ 1940s “Joe McDoakes Behind the Eight Ball” comedy shorts.
cperrynaples 17 days ago
Penny Singleton was the best choice for Jane Jetson as The Jetsons resembled Blondie in the same manner that The Flintstones resembled The Honeymooners!
ncadams27 17 days ago
The sponsors got their way in most every situation back then. After all, they paid the bills. I read a story where many of the Dick Van Dyke cast smoked but not Kent cigarettes, so a stage hand would put their favorite cigarettes in empty Kent packages.
jaelinsmith40652 18 days ago
Sheesh Saddest Story i ever heard But George O Hanlin just took over his voice roll of George Jetson.
Without Morey Amsterdam there's no way the truth about that he won't be allowed to be the voice of George Jetson, he will never be the best actor in the world.
MrsPhilHarris 18 days ago
Pat Carroll reminded me of Rose Marie. Kind of loud and bombastic. 😲
daDoctah MrsPhilHarris 17 days ago
Kaye Ballard would also have been a good match for Amsterdam. But not for O'Hanlon. Far better they go with a "sweeter" voice to play his wife, such as Phyllis Coates who did just that in some of his Joe McDoakes shorts.
MrsPhilHarris daDoctah 17 days ago
I did not realize it was “Lois Lane” in the Joe McDoakes shorts. 😲
Andybandit 18 days ago
I didn't realize Morey Amsterdam was supposed to be George Jetson's voice. I like the Jetson. Can't wait for it to be on Metv. I didn't realize there was only 48 episode.
24 first run episodes.
Actually there are 65 episodes, 24 on ABC and 41 produced for syndication 20 years later!
Wiseguy cperrynaples 15 days ago
It's been reported that MeTV will only show the original episodes. Don't know if the episodes are available in more than one package but that's what's been written.
I don't believe I've ever seen the twenty-years-later eps, but...it's probably a given that with the originals in mind, they would have sucked. I still cringe thinking about the "new" JONNY QUEST cartoons from the '80s/'90s.
Nice to see the original JETSONS coming to MeTV, though, and it's relaxing, nostalgic fun to loaf around on Saturday mornings for the POPEYE/TOM AND JERRY/WARNER BROS. cartoons.
Tuckerpete 18 days ago
And MeTV what was the outcome of the breach of contract lawsuit?
Hanna-Barbera won the lawsuit.
LittleMissNoName 18 days ago
As much as I find Morey funny on the Dick Van Dyke show, just can't imagine him being the right voice match for George Jetson.
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