1957 Live Television Broadcast
At the stroke of 8PM on Sunday evening, March 31, 1957, exactly fourteen years after the Broadway opening of Oklahoma!, CBS broadcast a special live television event: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Broadway’s Julie Andrews. Inspired by the huge success NBC had with Peter Pan, CBS tried to outdo that program’s large viewing audience by commissioning the kings of Broadway to create an entirely new musical for television. The sponsors heralded the show for months beforehand. The result was the largest television audience up to that time, an astronomical 107 million Americans (at a time when the United States population was 172 million). That record held for nearly 40 years. Although it was broadcast live in color, no preserved copy in color exists; what remains is a kinescope in black and white, and is one of the most requested programs at the Paley Center – previously the Museum of Broadcasting – in New York City and Los Angeles. A DVD has been available since 2004.
When the live broadcast was aired on Sunday, March 31, 1957, the audience was made aware that a soundtrack album had already been recorded and would be in ‘your local record store’ on Monday morning. Columbia Records had taken the cast and orchestra into their famous 30th Street under the guiding hand of Goddard Lieberson and created a definitive recording – and in true stereo! With orchestrations by longtime Rodgers and Hammerstein’s collaborator, Robert Russell Bennett, this album features a magical cast lead by Julie Andrews as Cinderella and Jon Cypher as the Prince, featuring Kaye Ballard, Alice Ghostley and Edie Adams.