Return to an era of big, glitzy family TV specials @ 5 February 2010 11:30 AM
There were two "Alice" specials in 1966: the hip Hanna-Barbera "What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?" and the more traditional, Hollywood Palace-style "Alice Through the Looking Glass."

I'm hoping the release of the new "Alice" feature this year inspires the H-B special to be at last released to DVD, but this Tuesday, the "Looking Glass" special is finally going to be available (up until now it was a budget VHS).

This glitzy special, which was rebroadcast on Thanksgiving Day, 1972, after star Judi Rolin appeared in the Macy's parade, features an all-star musical variety cast including Agnes Moorehead, Ricardo Montalbán, Nanette Fabray, Jack Palance, The Smothers Brothers, Jimmy Durante, Broadway's Robert Coote (Camelot), London's Roy Castle (Singin' in the Rain) and great character actors like Iris Adrian and Jackie Joseph. Alice father is played by Richard Denning, who played Lucille Ball's spouse on radio's "My Favorite Husband" and lost Deborah Kerr to Cary Grant in the movie "Affair to Remember."

The score was released on RCA Records on vinyl. The Emmy-winning costumes were co-created by Bob Mackie. Moose Charlap, who wrote most of the music for the Broadway "Peter Pan," did the same for this. The score includes the "Backwards Alphabet," which was also recorded as a single by Soupy Sales.

It's a little corny and cheesy by today's jaded, cynical standards, but a feast for the eyes and ears as well as a time capsule of legendary talents of the 20th century.

And what happened to 20-year-old Judi Rolin, who played Alice? She did some other TV, including a soap opera, but is now apparently a realtor in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

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