Hansel and Gretel (1958 TV special)
Hansel and Gretel was a musical adaptation of the Brothers Grimm story broadcast as a live television special on April 27, 1958 by NBC. It was one of a long series of fantasies presented on television as musical specials after the enormously successful first two telecasts of the Mary Martin Peter Pan. But Hansel and Gretel did not repeat the success of Peter Pan or several of the other specials. It was shown only once, then lapsed into obscurity, although a cast album was issued. The album, also long forgotten, has recently been issued on compact disc.
The adaptation, like the telecast 1957 musical adaptation of Pinocchio with Mickey Rooney, featured songs by Alec Wilder and William Engvick. It introduced many characters not in the original story including a quartet of characters named, respectively, Eenie, Meanie, Miney and Moe. Moe was portrayed by Sondra Lee, who had played Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. Rather incongruously, thirty-nine-year-old comedian Red Buttons appeared as Hansel, and then-new Broadway star Barbara Cook was Gretel. Other cast members included Hans Conried, Stubby Kaye, and Rise Stevens. The production, sponsored by Rexall, was directed by Paul Bogart.