When Hanna-Barbera set out to try to conquer prime time with animaiton specials, a decade after great successes with daytime and primetime programming, they first started to come up with a show about Atom Ant & Secret Squirrell, and did a promotional hour special, but then tried a different thing altogether afrewards.
Eventhough Walt Disney had released "Alice In Wonderland" 15 years before [as of 1966], even though they had scored a hit [NOT on screen though] on records, H-B was asked, according to Charlie Shows in his 1980 autobiography "Walt", to write such a special, after his svereal first years THERE, but the job went to good old Jose Jiminez, Bill Dana himself [stereotype by the next few yhear,s yes, but at least MUCH luckier at the time than Speedy, who had to haver the incongrous pairing with Daffy at Warners] to write it and play the White knight in it. The special was finally finished and boasted a combination of performers, in a unqiuely modern take on Alice: A girl about 12-14 after playing ball with her dog Fluff,reminded by her parents in mid-1960s America, of her homework [Alice in Wonderland report, no less!] after chasing the dog, runs into a wall, and sees the White Rbabit, climbs into the TV to follow and, the famed story.
[Charlie Shows on such: "They wanted a modern, slick, hip version.." but "they knew nothing from the time consuming process of producing animated cartoons
"...he and wife Peggy had "moved into a hotel near Hanna Barbera"..then found out that the sec said "Mr.Hanna[or Barbera] and his wife are on vacation". I noteated in my copy that it wound up being given to Bill Dana..yep, goold old "Josie Jiminez himself".
In this case, she's fallen into a wonderland of odd characters..a "hip" cheshire cat...a mad hatter and his hat maker, Hedda [nudge nudge!], a caterpillar with a VERY eerie resemblance to two certain Hanna-Barberian caveman singing "They'll never tear us apart". Of course at the end it turns out to be a dream. The White Knight is one character that made it to the special that Disney didn't use [Bill Dana--again, a much better use for a "offensive" Jose Jiminez type than the DFE/Format/WB Speedy_Daffy'sa].
The special, after debuting March 30, 1966, soon wasn't run as much as it could be, but after original writer Charles Shows [who'd written for HB for a few years] published the story "Walt" about his own work with Disney for over ten years, as well as everywhere else, the immortal Tom Hatten on KTLA in the afternoon showed this rare special. IN many ways it has a kinship to DePatie-Freleng's debut into specials, dicussed on this blog earlier, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears":
**a rarity untilo recently, at elast, for this one
**modern take on classic story about a curious little blonde girl
The full Official title, btw.:
THE NEW ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Or WHAT'S A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU DOING IN A PLACE LIKE TIS?
Alice/JANET WALDO----when speaking
Alice/DORIS DREW-----when singing
White Rabbit/HOWARD MORRIS
The Cheshire Cat/SAMMY DAVIS, JR.
Hedda, with the many hats/HEDDA HOPPER [!!!!!!!]
Queen/ZSA ZSA GABOR
Mad Hatter/HARVEY KORMAN
Caterpiller/ALLAN REED, MEL BLANC
White Knight/BILL DANA
Fluff the cat/Dormouse/DON MESSICK
March Hare/DAWS BUTLER
Alice's dad/Humpty Dumpty/ALLAN MELVIN
TED NICHOLS, HOYT S.CURTIN, MARTY PAITCH
CHARLES STROUSE and
MILTON KREAR DON DOUGLAS
BILL HANNA, JOE BARBERA
March 30, 1966
REXALL DRUGS--with its very own Alice commercial!!!
Eastmancolor by PATHE! [sound the rooster]
The specila had some music that wound up in "Abbott and Costello", Scooby Doo", and other later waning to "over the shark" HB, but all of that was still to come.
Another important thing is the cast album was one of the many "second-cast" albums, and Sammy Davis Jr., under a Reprise contract and HBR records could not use him, so Scatman Crothers, making his HB debut apppears, but also Howard Morris was replaced for budget reasons perhaps by Don Messick as the Rabbit, but then got so ticked off by this replacement that HB wouldn't have been able to have him...Moiris advised an impposible nasty thing to H-B, and quit for years [winding up at the bottom, Filmation, or as I call it, Fugmation].
Recenrtly Boomerang has picked up the special, and reran it like it hadn't for a while. It's also one of the first times Hanna and Barbera weren't credited with directing.
The character designs, by later "kiddie era" veterans Bob Singer, Iwao Takamoto and Jery Eisenberg are far superioir to the work they've been known for [and I gotta do an about face on those guys for flack I've flung for their later 70s-80s otk'; even the poses and dialogue are tremendous and funny..and am I tnhe only one who likes boith the Scat Man and Sammy Davis's version of What's a Nice Kid?]
"Oh...where the potato chips are soggy, they water the beer'-Cheshire Cat.
Coincidentlaly, a live aciton adaptaiton aired later in 1966..recalling Disney combaitng a competive live verison back in 1951.