Once upon a time in the 1950’s, there was such a thing as an “original TV musical” and, for a brief, magical time, they were an important and imaginative staple of network programming. They were usually star-studded and televised “live”- meant to be seen just once before becoming a fleeting memory. Such was the case on Oct. 13, 1957 when Rexall Drugs premiered a new version of the fable “Pinocchio,” starring eternally-young Mickey Rooney as the puppet who yearned to be a real boy. “Pinocchio” co-starred Fran Allison as the Fairy Queen, Gordon Clarke as wood-maker Gepetto, Stubby Kaye as the Town Crier, comic Jerry Colonna as the villainous Ringmaster of the travelling circus and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Martyn Green as the wily dishonest Fox.
The new score was composed by the great Alec Wilder, usually remembered for such more sophisticated songs as “While We’re Young,” and “The First Warm Day in May.” Lyrics were by William Engvick, who also wrote the English lyric for the hit “The Song From Moulin Rouge”.
Though the video itself no long exists, the TV production was fortunately put on wax but quickly disappeared as stereo LP’s came into production later that same year, making it a much sought-after, if hard-to-find, cast album.
By the time he starred in “Pinocchio,” Mickey Rooney had been one of MGM’s brightest film stars (playing everything from Andy Hardy to Thomas Edison) and teaming in musicals with Judy Garland. New generations would continue to discover him in roles ranging from the trainer in “The Black Stallion” to the burlesque comedian of the long-running “Sugar Babies” on Broadway.
Earlier in 1957, Rooney had appeared on TV as the great George M. Cohan in an adaptation of the Yankee Doodle Dandy’s life called “Mr. Broadway.” An album was similarly devised with Rooney singing several Cohan trademarks and bonus tracks here include these.
Fran Allison was one of the true superstars of American airwaves, first winning fame as the gossipy spinster Aunt Fanny on “Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club” and later achieving immortality as the human member of “Kukla, Fran and Ollie,” a landmark TV program from its 1947 debut right into the mid-1980’s. Allison recorded for a variety of labels, from which we have selected six bonus tracks, among them the children’s chart hit “Peter Cottontail.”
Narrated by Mickey Rooney
1. OPENING / LISTEN TO YOUR HEART Fran Allison 2:55
2. HAPPY NEWS Stubby Kaye 4:33
3. PINOCCHIO’S SONG Mickey Rooney, Gordon B. Clarke 3:12
4. LULLABY Gordon B. Clarke 8:20
5. THE FOX’S PITCH Martyn Green, Mickey Rooney 3:57
6. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART Fran Allison, Mickey Rooney 5:08
7. THE JOLLY COACHMAN Jerry Colonna, Mickey Rooney 6:33
8. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART Mickey Rooney 1:34
9. LULLABY Gordon B. Clarke 1:38
10. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART Mickey Rooney 1:31
11. HAPPY NEWS Mickey Rooney 0:59
12. THE BIRTHDAY SONG Ensemble 1:20
13. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART Fran Allison 1:37
14. HAPPY NEWS Stubby Kaye 1:25
Mickey Rooney Sings (tracks 15-22)
15. YANKEE DOODLE BOY 1:34
16. MARY’S A GRAND OLD NAME 1:37
17. HARRIGAN 2:04
18. GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY 1:38
19. YOU COULDN’T TELL THE TEAR DROPS FROM THE RAIN 2:31
20. YOU’RE A GRAND OLD FLAG 2:13
21. TOP HAT, WHITE TIE AND TAILS 2:10
22. MANHATTAN 2:44
Fran Allison Sings (tracks 23-28)
23. PETER COTTONTAIL 2:12 LISTEN
24. STARS ARE THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN 2:23
25. LITTLE BUFFALO BILL 2:25
26. THE DOUGHNUT SONG 2:12
27. ALL IN THE GOLDEN AFTERNOON 2:29
28. DID YOU WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR SWEETHEART? 2:59