50 Years Ago Today: The Premiere of “The Roman Holidays”

…Or 2,000 years ago, depending on your point of view.

September 9, 1972 saw the debut of the Hanna-Barbera animated show The Roman Holidays. The title is obvious a play on the 1953 romantic comedy with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, and it was basically a VERY formulaic attempt to replicate the success of The Flintstones (1960-66) and The Jetsons (1962-63) by making ancient Rome seem like contemporary family life in America. The concept was a dozen years old when the show was launched, it had actually one of the concepts Hanna-Barbera had considered prior to settling on the stone age for The Flintstones. A major difference between The Roman Holidays and the other two shows as that it aired on Saturday mornings for kids rather than prime time for families. This is probably one of the major factors contributing to the fact that only 13 episodes aired. What do kids know or care about ancient Rome? (Most kids, I mean. I was kind of into the topic).

Vaudeville vet Dave Willock voiced Augustus “Gus” Holliday, who worked at Forum Construction Company. He drives a horse drawn chariot. Instead of Dino or Astro, the family pet is a lion named Brutus voiced by Daws Butler. Radio and TV actress Laurie Mitchell was Gus’s wife, with the kids played by Stanley Livingston of My Three Sons and the ubiquitous Pamela Ferdin. Her friend, played by Judy Strangis (Dyna Girl of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl) is named GROOVIA! Now there’s a sign of the times. And the extremely strong supporting cast included Dom Deluise as a landlord named Mr. Evictus, Harold Peary as Gus’ friend Herman, and Hal Smith (Otis on The Andy Griffith Show) as his boss Mr. Tycoonius.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, you say? And took centuries to fall, according to Gibbon? Three months for The Roman Holidays, followed by repeats. We took pleasure today in excavating the ruins.