Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1919, Jean Vander Pyl was a beloved American actress who is best known as the voice of Wilma Flintstone from the popular cartoon series The Flintstones. She was also the voice of Rosie the Robot Maid from the animated series The Jetsons. On the radio, she portrayed Margaret Anderson on Father Knows Best. Vander Pyl's television appearances were numerous, including Leave It To Beaver and The Donna Redd Show. She died in California in 1999, at age 79.
Famed actress Jean Vander Pyl was born on October 11, 1919, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A woman who gave voice to numerous characters, Vander Pyl is perhaps best known as Wilma Flintstone, the prehistoric housewife and mother on the popular animated series The Flintstones. Vander Pyl moved with her family to California when she was in her teens, and graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1937 with ambitions of becoming a serious actress. After briefly attending the University of California, Los Angeles, Vander Pyl dropped out in an effort to focus on performing professionally.
Early into her career, Vander Pyl performed on the radio in such shows as Calling all Cops and Amos 'n' Andy. She also played Margaret Anderson on the radio version of Father Knows Best—a role that Jane Wyatt took over when the show moved to television.
Jean Vander Pyl moved from radio to TV in the 1950s. While she made appearances on Leave It to Beaver and other shows, she became more famous for her voice work than her on-screen roles. The actress worked for legendary cartoon producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for many years, and her most famous role began in 1960 with the premiere of the primetime animated series The Flintstones; she portrayed Wilma Flintstone, a housewife married to the loud but lovable Fred Flintstone (voiced by Alan Reed), a dinosaur operator at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company. The animated couple later had a daughter named Pebbles, which made things interesting for Vander Pyl, who voiced both Wilma and Pebbles. Wilma and Fred lived next door to their friends, Barney and Betty Rubble (Mel Blanc and Bea Benaderet), on the show. Audiences loved to watch the Flintstones and the Rubbles have their misadventures in the ancient yet somewhat suburban town of Bedrock. The Flintstones lasted for six seasons.
While The Flintstones continued to be popular in syndication, Jean Vander Pyl didn't benefit from the show's continued success, having taken a deal for a lump sum instead of residuals. She reprised the role of Wilma numerous times over the years, including for the 1977 TV special A Flintstone Christmas. Vander Pyl also made a cameo appearance in the 1994 feature film version of The Flintstones. According to a Los Angeles Times article, she told actress Elizabeth Perkins, the film's Wilma, that the key to her character was to "remember Fred is a two-syllable word."
In addition to her work on The Flintstones, Jean Vander Pyl worked on another now-classic animated series: The Jetsons. She voiced several characters, including Rosie the Robot and Mrs. Spacely, on this futuristic show, which originally only aired for one season in 1962, but enjoyed a second life in syndication. Vander Pyl also contributed to several episodes of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? in the late '60s.
Vander Pyl got the opportunity to voice several of her best-known characters in the 1987 TV special The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones. One of her final TV appearances was as Wilma Flintstone on The Weird Al Show in the late 1990s.
Jean Vander Pyl died of lung cancer on April 10, 1999, at the age of 79, in Dana Point, California. Married twice, she had four children: Kathleen, Michael and Timothy O'Meara, and Roger DeWitt.
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