Wednesday is the day and date that ABC presented the most ambitious TV special Hanna-Barbera had yet produced. Here’s a peek at the rare soundtrack recording.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND, OR WHAT’S A NICE KID LIKE YOU DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS?
Capitol Custom Promotional Record / E.H. Morris & Company, Inc. (12” 33 1/3 RPM One-Sided LP)
Released in 1966. Musical Director: Marty Paich. Running Time: 16 minutes.
Voices: Howard Morris (White Rabbit); Sammy Davis, Jr. (Cheshire Cat); Doris Drew (Alice / Singing Voice); Janet Waldo (Alice / Speaking Voice); Henry Corden (Fred Flintstone / Singing Voice); Alan Reed (Fred Flintstone / Speaking Voice); Mel Blanc (Barney Rubble); Bill Dana (White Knight).
Songs: “Life’s a Game,” “What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?” “They’ll Never Split Us Apart,” “Today’s a Wonderful Day,” “I’m Home” by Lee Adams, Charles Strouse.
Instrumental: “Main Title (What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?” by Charles Strouse.
Music rights are touchy things. When the contracts are agreed upon, any number of variables come into play, including musicians’ fees, talent compensation, publishing costs and ongoing payments per unit of sales. Some musical works are never cleared for commercial recording. Again, there can be any number of reasons. A budget may have not have provided the funding, the performers may be under another label’s contract, there night be disagreement about terms, and so on.
In the case of Hanna-Barbera’s TV special, Alice in Wonderland or, What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This, there was no commercially released soundtrack album.
The LP produced and released by Hanna-Barbera Records (which we looked at in a previous Animation Spin, was a studio adaptation of the story and the songs with members of the voice cast (some voice tracks—and Hoyt Curtin’s underscore—were from the film tracks). The songs were arranged by Al Capps based on the Marty Paich charts with a smaller orchestra. Even though this saved money, the record was produced with a much higher budget than any other HBR Cartoon Series LP.
HB’s first feature, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! was released as a soundtrack LP on Colpix Records (we talked about that one here). However, the vinyl version of the music from their second feature, The Man Called Flintstone (Spinned here) was handled in a similar way to Alice’s LP songs, with a smaller group of musicians playing new music beds for vocal tracks that either came from the film or were re-created for the record. Coincidentally, Marty Paich was the musical director for the Yogi and Flintstone features as well as the Alice special.
When a promotional album is pressed, the rules are different, because these are made for private use. Rankin/Bass pressed several such promo soundtracks that never became commercial records, including Here Comes Peter Cottontail (‘Spin’ned over here, The Mouse on the Mayflower, The Little Drummer Boy (both ‘Spin’ned here, and The First Easter Rabbit. These pressings are for sponsors, clients, publicity, business partners, participants in the production, and other needs.
The one-sided soundtrack promo album for HB’s Alice in Wonderland was surely more connected with E.H. Morris (the publisher of the songs), Charles Strouse (composer) and Lee Adams (lyricist) than Hanna-Barbera. The sparse front cover art (the back is blank) is the same design found on the sheet music from the same publisher. There is no mention of Hanna-Barbera at all.
Adams and Strouse were a hot songwriting team at the time, having hit very big with Bye Bye Birdie. It stands to reason that their involvement with Alice in Wonderland may have stemmed from Hanna-Barbera’s connection with the movie version of Birdie. The film’s director, George Sidney, was an early partner in Hanna and Barbera’s company and managed to get HB product placement into the movie, as well as some animated effects. Columbia Pictures released Birdie and distributed early HB TV shows through Screen Gems (Alice originally ended with a Screen Gems logo).
The back cover and record label of this particular copy is rubber stamped “Cathy Furniss & Associates” in San Francisco. Furniss was a record promoter, so perhaps the intention was to see if a major label might have interest in releasing the soundtrack music. Such promotion would have benefited Strouse, Adams and Morris, as their newest Broadway musical, “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman,” was opening one day before Alice aired on TV!
Whatever the reason, it’s glorious that this disc actually exists, with all five , fully orchestrated songs, plus the main title music. There’s not much chance that this recording will ever see the light of day again in digital form, but we can always keep hoping that Warner Archive will pleeeeeease keep trying to release the film on DVD. It’s a sparkling gem well worth mining.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Main Title (What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?)”
The very beginning of this piece was edited in the film so it would connect to the musical effect Hoyt Curtin created to accompany Alice as she falls down her TV set. The very end of the track was faded when the special aired in syndication and occasionally pops up on Boomerang, because it was originally attached to sponsor announcements for Coca-Cola and Rexall.
I had no idea that a soundtrack album existed at all. Too bad they couldn’t have included this opening music on the HBR LP version, which only has a brief musical prelude before going right into the story.
As I mentioned on the earlier post on this “Alice” special, the cast album is in many ways superior to the original sound track, for example in Janet Waldo’s imitation of Zha Zha Gabor’s Queen of Hearts, which is done with much more spirit than Zha Zha gave it. The other advantage is that the cast album was created as an audio version of the story, so the visuals are explained for the benefit of the listener. And I actually like Scatman Crothers’ rendition of “What’s a Nice Kid Like You” better than Sammy Davis’, although it would be nice to have both versions available for contrast.
And yes, it is past time for a DVD release of this fantastic H-B Special!
Thanks for yet another great post!
Not 100% sure, but I think that is a picture I took of my Alice candy dish.
It could very well be yours — I don’t have one, so this image came from “Kerry” on flickr. Thanks very much. Always wanted one of those — and I didn’t realize it was a candy dish!
Greg, If you want it, I’m sure we could work something out. I found it at a Thrift Store, and really has no value to me then just as a collectible piece.
ohhhhhhh, this is PURE Gold! And I were there. It WAS a big to-do. [Excuse me while I run to Rexall’s!!!]
I know how it feels..I rememebr this too…..
That special came out on my 4th birthday and how I remember seeing it, including Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed & Henry Corden) and Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc) sharing the role as the Caterpillar (and surprisingly how they weren’t better casted as Tweedledum and Tweedledee).
What more can I add to this discussion? I also wish it would be released in its all-important uncut entirety, even with the Screen Gems logo. Otherwise, it will always be one of those Holy Grail-like finds that hardly any of us will ever see and, with generations coming and going, fewer and fewer people will remember this. One thing I don’t recall, though, is Fred and Barney appearing anywhere in this special; and I, too, didn’t know that there was ever some sort of recorded soundtrack available on this. I did see it years ago, though, and remembered liking it immensely. I wonder how much of the original source material actually still exists.
I remembered having watched that special on television many years ago when I was a kid.
A friend of mine told me he remembered reading a comment from either Bill Hanna or Joe Barbera many years back about ALICE IN WONDERLAND and JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, which I believe followed ALICE by a few months, talking about how they were disappointed in the way the specials were received. That they had envisioned them becoming TV perennials, brought out regularly like THE WIZARD OF OZ or PETER PAN. Instead, the networks ran ALICE and JACK a couple of times, then showed no further interest in them.
The mid-60s must have been a frustrating time for Hanna-Barbera. For all their success with cartoons, their record label didn’t make it, their attempts at breaking into the feature film market failed, and, apparently, they were unhappy with how their prime time television specials were received. Or at least, unhappy that they didn’t become TV “perennials.” The “perennial” thing isn’t something you can plan, though. It just happens. CBS, for example, never dreamed that they would get more than two or three runs out of THE WIZARD OF OZ. For the handful of animated TV specials that did become “perennials,” think of the hundreds that, like ALICE IN WONDERLAND and JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, got a couple of network runs then disappeared into a vault somewhere.
I visited the British Cartoon Museum last year, and they had a great concept-art drawing of Alice in Wonderland. It included Yogi Bear, who may have been the Mad Hatter.
Alice is a top fave of mine. One thing it made me do was want to meet Zsa Zsa Gabor- which I eventually did during one of my piano-playing gigs. Does anybody have the complete recording of this promo?? I would do nearly anything reasonable to hear it. I already have the sheet music and the HB LP. Please advise! Awesome post!!
Oops! Did I spell her name wrong? Sorry, I was going by memory instead of looking it up. How wonderful that you got to meet her in person!
I always thought it was her voice on the HBR album instead of Janet Waldo’s, until years later when I listened really closely. Janet Waldo did a great job of imitating her.
I’m glad that others were likewise enchanted with this special when it aired. It remains a cherished childhood memory.
Are there any other collectible items from this show? I’ve never heard of the candy dish. Glassware? Toys? Coloring books?
There was a little giveaway comic book available at Rexall. We put the front page in a previous Spin about the Alice HBR record:
Another sighting (sounding?) of the title song: Recall stumbling into a TV special of a Hanna Barbara arena show, an HB version of “Disney on Parade.” It was evidently touring Australia and somebody like Michael Landon was hosting from an audience seat.
A teenage Pebbles stood in for Alice. Another odd crossover was Scooby and Shaggy meeting the Funky Phantom.
It was known as “The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera” which was broadcasted on NBC On June 25, 1981. The special was recorded at the Perth Enertainment Centre located in Perth Western Australia. The special involved Dino (The Flintstone’s pet Snorkasaurus) who ran away from home after being ignored by Pebbles (age 14 at the time and voiced by Janet Waldo) and while searching for Dino both Pebbles and Bamm Bamm found him as a superstar at a Discotheque hosted by none other than The “hip” Cheshire Cat (voiced by Sammy Davis Jr)! On Flickr there’s a photo with Michael Landon and Fred Flinstone,Yogi Bear,Scooby Doo and Huckleberry Hound (who for some unknown reason was called Deputy Dawg who in fact Deputy Dawg was a Terrytoons character that came out approximately ten years after Huckleberry Hound).
DIno running away and a teen Pebbles voiced by Janet Waldo aas most know, were used as early Season 4 Flintstones episode concepts when Pebbles was still a baby (voiced, as with Wilma, by Jean Vanderpyl) with (as if enough Alice connections aren’t already mentioned!) a Ed Wynn like showbiz guy and his lookalike Dino like snorkasaurus (“Dino Disappears”) and
Pebbles appearing as an 18 year old in Fred’s nightmare of a pre-Bamm Bamm Pebbles and bumbling newsboy Arnold in Fred’s nightmare eloping to try an and get married at “the Little Church”(“Groom Gloom”,the first of the two to air”Dino Disappears” was the other).
I wish both this and DePatie-Freleng’s “Goldilocks” (a YEAR ago coveredf by Greg here) were on DVD!
For some reason, I was especially taken with the snippet of the Cheshire cat/Sammy Davis singing “What Is a Nice Girl Like You……” on the promo, and I couldn’t wait to hear Sammy sing it on the special.
Happy to say that a full color (with all Coke, Tab, and Rexall commercials) network version exists…I have it in my Archives. It’s wonderful.
Re: Kevin Wollenweber:
I would like to see this special again re-broadcast or on DVD un-cut and with original Screen Gems and ABC Color Production logos, as well as the Coca Cola, Tab and Rexall Commercials and bumpers, but sadly, Warner Brothers, who now owns the rights to this special probably won’t allow such practices if such an event ever happens simply to deny acknowledgements to Sony Pictures, who now owns the Screen Gems trademark logo. Funny thing about the Screen Gems logo in it’s original televised history I have learned over the years. It seems that due to tardiness of adopting the new 1965 “S From Hell”/Film Spiral logo, The Providences of Canada were one year behind the rest of the world in adopting the new logo. Thus, as opposed to seeing the “S From Hell” logo on TV screens in the rest of the world, Canada ended up seeing the old 1963-65 “Dancing Sticks” logo on their TV screens at the end of “Alice In Wonderland!” Apparently, Canada did not officially use the “S From Hell” logo on their TV shows until September 1966, one full year after the US switched to the new logo. Incidentally, since there was no ABC Television in Canada, CBC-TV televised it in Canada. In the City of Windsor, Ontario, which is about 40 miles East of my hometown of Oxford Michigan, CBC Channel 9 originally showed this special. I saw a repeat of this special around 1989 on Cable Station USA TV with the H-B “Swirling Star” logo plastered over the old Screen Gems logo and Worldvision Entertainment distribution. That was the last time I saw it televised on TV or cable station. Yes, I do recall Fred & Barney singing a duet as the caterpillar in the special. Henry Corden (as Fred) and Mel Blanc (as Barney) did provide singing voices. Incidentally, since Fred’s original voice, Alan Reed couldn’t professionally sing whenever providing a singing voice for Fred (in most cases, not always, though For example, Jerry Wallace singing”The Twitch”) Henry Corden provided the duty. After the success of this H-B special, Screen Gems Television provided Henry Corden another supporting role in one of their next projects: that of the nosy rooming house landlord Mr. Babbitt in the TV series “The Monkees.” Zsa Zsa Gabor turned 99 years old last month this year and is in frail health; her role as the queen in this special was entertaining. I often wondered why Sammy Davis Jr. was replaced by Scatman Crothers on the HBR recordings that accompanied this special (royalties, maybe? A n injunction from Reprise Records, which Davis recorded for at the time? If so Reprise boss Mo Ostin and Bill and Joe couldn’t reach a final decision for Davis’ inclusion on the HBR album and single, so Crothers took his place, I presume.) I still find Rexall products at various dollar stores here in Michigan, including at Dollar General, which is just down the street from where I live. There haven’t been any Rexall Pharmacies since the 1980’s, though. they have been all bought out. As for “Tab” one-calorie soda, I can still find this product at my local Meijer’s Supermarket with many other Coca-Cola products. Tab has been surpassed by Diet Coke and Coca Cola Zero brands over the years, but you can still find the “Tab” brand in certain stores. Of course, unfortunately, you can’t find hardly any stores these days with a “One Cent Sale” like as was advertised on the “Alice In Wonderland” special. Inflation really bites!
What’s really odd is that Screen Gems who once provided wholesome family entertainment such as The Flintstone now releasing schlocky horror movies and adult comedies like Easy A..
Also Janet Waldo, who was the voice of Alice, couldn’t sing so HB got Doris Drew as the singing voice of Alice. The same thing happened with Rocking with Judy Jetson – when B.J. Ward was the singing voice for Judy Jetson and Janet Waldo was the speaking voice for Judy Jetson; and the ill faded attempt by MCA Record by forcing HB by dropping Janet Waldo as the speaking voice of Judy Jetson in favor of Tiffany as both the singing and speaking voice of Judy Jetson in Jetsons the Movie.
Has anyone noticed on the cover of the promo record of Alice in Wonderland or What a Nice Girl Doing in a Place like This? That the prototype version looked almost like Creepella Gruesome from The Flintstones wearing a Gogo outfit while the finished version had Alice looked like a average American schoolgirl from the early 1960’s?
That item is not a candy dish…it’s a smoked glass screen printed change plate that would’ve been on the counter by the register at Rexall Drug stores (Rexall sponsored the show). The checkout person would put your coins on it. I don’t think that item was ever sold to the public, the surviving trays were from the stores… I picked one up a couple decades ago for my friend Scott Shaw! It’s a very nice item!
In honor of the anniversary, I bought one on eBay yesterday. Change would have scratched it!
I wonder why Marty Paich’s name is misspelled in the opening credits sequence??
(as “Paitch” with a T)
Getting Tiffany to replace Janet Waldo as Judy Jetson in The Jetson’s movie was considered today to be a collssial mistake by the industry . Waldo still has bad memories today about having to go through the process of recording her dialogue, only to have been replaced at the last minute by a bean-counter executive at Universal Pictures by Tiffany in a blatant attempt to draw the younger, hipper 1980’s teen crowd. In other words, they insultingly thought that Waldo was too old to voice the part of a teenager. A long-lost recording of Waldo’s original recording tracks from the movie now exists on YouTube for all the world to hear much to Ms. Waldo’s relief. Screen Gems /Sony Pictures also handles comedies by African-American actors such as “This Christmas” and “Think Like A Man”. The decision to use the Screen Gems name for movies instead of television came in 1998 when Sony bought out the small, independent Victory Pictures company, and then decided to re-name it by their old stand-by name, Screen Gems, complete with new logos (most notably the “S” From Heaven in the clouds design.) although it isn’t mentioned as much, Bill Dana is still alive today at age 92. He will always be forever known for the naive, but now considerably politically incorrect character of nervous Mexican American Jose Jimmenez. His role as a knight on “Alice In Wonderland” was considered a change of pace. I’ve never before seen that above pictured promotional album released by Capitol Custom Records. The album issued by HBR Records is somewhat more common in the collector’s market, making this promo super rare. It makes you wonder why Capitol Records didn’t go to the trouble of making a regular soundtrack album deal with Bill & Joe or Lee Adams & Charlie Strauss on their own black label with a “Rainbow Band” design like a Beatles or Beach Boys album. The mind boggles with business decisions sometimes. Ironically, Capitol would deal with H-B in 1970 to issue some highly sought-after singles and a rare album with Josie & The Pussycats, so go figure. Maybe a full deal made with H-B and Archie Comics (who owned the Josie characters created by John Goldwater and designed originally in 1963 by Dan DeCarlo) had something to do with this decision.
The majority of the Archie comic book characters were animated by Filmation (Archie and his Pals,Sabrina the Teenage Witch and “STTW” spinoff The Groovy Ghoolies) with Josie and the Pussycats being the only Archie comic book characters not animated by Filmation being animated by Hanna Barbera. There’s a website called Mister Kitty’s Stupid Comics where they had the Josie and the Pussycats tie in with the animated tv series featuring caricatures of both William Hanna and Joseph Barbera giving a studio tour to Josie and her friends . Also when Filmation went bankrupt DiC took over the Archies series by creating The New Archies (a middle school “missing link” version that shows Archie Andrews and his friends right after Little Archie and before Archie at Riverdale High as middle school students including Betty Cooper wearing a “Country Girl” bib overalls, Veronica Lodge in a gawd awful outfit the even the Fashion Police would freak out about and Ms Geraldine Grundy wearing Chuck Taylor Converse high top sneakers?!?) to Archie’s Weird Mysteries (a parody on paranormal tv shows including The -X Files) and the updated version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (based on the hit ABC tv series with Mellisa Joan Hart as the voices of Sabrina’s aunts Agatha and Zelda and having the location moved from Riverdale to Oakdale).
Actually it was the head honchos from MCA Records who force Hanna Barbera to drop Janet Waldo from Jetsons the Movie in favor of thier pop star Tiffany starring in the film (Tiffany was supposed to be the singing voice for that film) in both the singing and speaking role of Judy Jetson denyingj Janet Waldo to star with her surviving Jetson Costars one final time (Daws Butler passed away before production started and George O’Hanolin and Mel Blanc passed away during production ). But Janet Waldo made amends with William Hanna and Joseph Barbara and continued doing voice over work for them.
Re: Bigg 3469: Thanks for correcting the information about Tiffany’s inclusion on The Jetson’s movie. Since MCA Records is owned by Universal Pictures, it seems that the decision to replace Janet Waldo for Tiffany seemed to be in a similar fashion. It seems that MCA wanted to sell records with the soundtrack album from the movie, the decision to use Tiffany’s voice was final even though within a year of The Jetson’s release, Tiffany’s success would peter out and place her in has-been status. It still seems to be a sore point for Janet Waldo, though. She was always envisioned by Jetson’s fans to be the proper voice of Judy Jetson, and even though Waldo was in her 50’s by 1988, the decision seemed to be an unfortunate one. That movie seemed like a curse for The Jetson’s vocal cast, with not only Waldo being replaced, but with the deaths of Daws Butler (before the movie was commissioned) and Mel Blanc And George O’Hanolin (just as the movie was about to be released; O’Hanolin died in the recording studio within hours after recording his final dialogue for George Jetson.) It’s good that Janet Waldo made amends with Bill & Joe after the Movie Company’s and Record Label’s unfortunate decision. By the way , I might be mistaken about what year Josie was created as well; She was created in 1960, it seems. 1963 was the year that Sabrina The Teenaged Witch debuted in the comic books, so my bad. John Goldwater still takes credit for their creations since he formed Archie Comics in 1941,and Dan DeCarlo takes credit for Josie and Sabrina’s original designs, even though other Archie artists (such as Dan Parent, Bob Bolling, and others) have drawn both characters. Today, John’s son, Richard Goldwater has taken over his father’s Archie Comics empire and the various Archie shows (except for “Josie”) are now owned by Cookie Jar Entertainment, buying out DIC in 2007 and Filmation (which DIC purchased earlier) around the same time. Getting back to this article about “Alice In Wonderland” , it’s been a long time since I seen a repeat of the special (I think it was in 1989 on USA TV cable station with Worldvision Entertainment at the time owning much of the H-B product. Screen Gems TV was no longer involved with H-B projects, though sometimes in a rare moment, that “S From Hell” logo or that “Dancing Sticks” logo still can show up in the darndest places when least expected. (for example, I recall seeing the Dancing Sticks on repeats of “Magilla Gorilla” on Boomerang as late as 1995. Warner Brothers, who owns H-B projects nowadays don’t even bother with opening & closing credits of certain shows like Magilla, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Quick Draw McGraw. I think it’s dreadful that W-B ignores these important things; they were as much as important as the cartoons themselves were when repeated back in the 1960’s and 70’s. ) I also miss Rexall Drug Stores in the state of Michigan as well; they have been gone since the mid-1980’s, bought out by Arbor Drug Stores, and then bought out again by CVS Pharmacies in 1994.
The title song and accompanying animated clip is here on YouTube (because damned near everything is on YouTube):
As long as people don’t get caught.
I would like to humbly add that my father Harvey Kormans contributions to this program were never mentioned as far as I know.He was the voice of the Mad Hatter and did play the white king in that Alice and Wonderland movie with Natalie Gregory. What is ironic is that Natlalie Gregory’s sister Sharee played Robert Hogans daughter Melissa Daye in Gone are the Dayes also starring my father.Natalie also guest starred on Magnum Pi with my ex-step father George DiCenzo better known to some in the world of Animation as the voice of Blackstar and Hordak and Bo on She RA.Crazy world this show biz.
I have a question. IS there anyone out there who might have a VHS copy of the Hanna Barbera version of Alice in Wonderland when it was re-aired back in November 1967? McDonalds corporation sponsored the re-aired Alice in Wonderland version.
Is there anywhere online to view the ’81 TV special? We had it recorded on VHS for years and years and I’m afraid it’s been lost over the years. I adored this TV special and watched it dozens of times. “Dem Bones” was my favorite part.
The original, uncut version of HANNA-BARBERA’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND OR WHAT’S A NICE KID LIKE YOU DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS? complete with the ABC logo and the Coca-Cola and Rexall ads is available on the Internet Archive!