Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cinderella vs. Batman and the Passage of Time

Seeing the new version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway reminded me of how much I used to look forward to watching the 1965 version on TV every year (This should have been a sign to my parents that I was gay, but never mind that.) It was a big deal because in those days there were only three TV networks and a big, lavish, full-color musical worthy of Broadway was a rare event. Even though we saw it in black and white, it was still a thrill. We did have an aunt and uncle who had color TV and I used to ask if we could go to their house for dinner on Wednesday nights because that was when Lost in Space was on. This was in the second season when the Robinsons finally changed their clothes and got full-color outfits. Now that I think of it, I don't believe I've ever seen that Lesley Anne Warren Cinderella in full color outside of YouTube clips. We didn't graduate from B&W until the mid-1970s. So we must have seen it in grey tones with the whole family including my grandparents visiting from Maine.

But as I grew up, Cinderella became less special. One of the last times it was repeated on CBS was a Wednesday night years later. It was pre-empting Lost in Space and airing opposite Batman on ABC which has also began to lose its appeal. But still this was a dilemma in those pre-VRC days. I was a weird child who actually enjoyed both comic book superheroes and Broadway musicals. Batman was my very favorite TV show of all time and still is. But this was in the third season. Batgirl had leaped into the action to goose the ratings and they were rapidly running out of ideas. The episode opposite Cinderella was with Victor Buono's King Tut, a villain not from the comic book, but created just for the series, and not one of my favorites. Now I get Buono's sarcastic dry delivery, but it was wasted on me as a 10-year-old. I did wind up watching the 30-minute Batman and then the rest of the fairy-tale musical. To further add to the non-specialness, it was daylight savings time and still bright outside at 8PM, which made the event seem ordinary and not part of the glamorous nighttime.

On a recent walk through the West Village where I have not been in a while, I noticed all the unique quirky antique stores and delis were gone. In their places were high-end fashion storerooms for names like Michael Kors and Perry Ellis. As rents rose, so did the profile of the merchandise. The neighborhood had lost its individual, community feel to be replaced by corporate chic replicated in Miami, Dallas, LA, etc. That era of sleazy gay-dominated fun is gone from the Village never to return as is my child-like wonder over Rodgers and Hammerstein and DC Comics. I can try to get it back sometimes, but the innocent part of it has vanished.


  1. I relate to this blog on so many levels. The only difference is I remember that Wednesday night. There was no choice other than Cinderella. If you want another layer to this story, please call me and I'll tell you about my friendship with Celeste Holm!
    Richard Skipper

    1. Richard,
      I did meet Holm in New Orleans a few years ago. I just happened to be sitting next to her in a jazz club. Would love to hear your stories some time.

  2. I watched Batman, loved Cinderella and all things Broadway and still grew up liking girls. The stereotype that all boys who like musicals must be gay is so tiresome. I don't know about you, but I was thinking about Leslie Ann Warren, Angela Cartwright and Yvonne Craig (Batgirl). Other than that, I shared your TV viewing habits as a boy. Thanks.

  3. Robert,

    Thanks for the comment. I liked Batgirl and Mrs. Emma Peel, but not quite in the same way as you.


  4. Although Stuart Damon was kinda cute. ;-)