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Alice and the Trial is a 1951 RCA Little Nipper record album based on the trial sequence from Alice in Wonderland.

As part of the 1951 Alice in Wonderland marketing and merchandise blitz, RCA also released three separate single records that divided the film story into sections, much like Golden Books did with other Disney films.

They are stand-alone productions, not edited from the above two-record set. The cast is largely different; with veteran voice actors either resuming some roles they played on the album or filling in for Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna and Sterling Holloway.

Not only does the cast vary, so does the script, which expands on some scenes. Alice and the Mad Tea Party also includes “We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out” and the White Rabbit’s house sequence, both of which are not heard on the storybook album. The individual records came in illustrated sleeves that open to a double page of pictures and text.

Fans of Jackie Gleason’s Honeymooners might want to seek out Alice and the Trial to hear Betty Garde as the Queen of Hearts. A seasoned radio and TV pro, Garde stole the scenes from Gleason and Art Carney as Thelma the maid (“You keep ringin’ that thing and you’ll get one lump!”) in the episode, “A Woman’s Work is Never Done” (good gosh!).

Part of the impetus behind these products was due to the whims of RCA honcho David Sarnoff, according to Disney music exec Jimmy Johnson (in his bio Inside the Whimsy Works). After 12” long playing records were developed by Columbia in 1948, Sarnoff created a VHS/Beta situation Rather than making LP’s the standard, had to have his own lemon lollipop. He had his RCA techs create the 45 rpm record, the idea being that listeners could stack them and enjoy the same playing time as an LP. The listener could, to a degree, also select the order and mix of the records, set the changer and relax (a form of “programming” that was a little less convenient with LP’s and would come to fruition with mp3 players).

RCA marketed 45’s as the alternative to LP’s, advertising them on their radio network, NBC. On an episode of The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show, guest star Edward G. Robinson helps promote the 7” discs, remarking about how they could easily fit into one’s pocket (if you happen to be wearing Fred Mertz-sized pants).

When RCA Victor sponsored the landmark TV show, Burr Tillstrom’s Kukla, Fran & Ollie, the cast did live commercials for RCA radios, phonographs and records. Some of the records featured Fran Allison and her beloved puppet friends in addition to Disney and Howdy Doody stories. (Walt with Tillstrom at right).

Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland was such a big deal at the time, the film was among the properties RCA turned into themed children’s 45 rpm record players with automatic changers (pictured below). Eventually, the public chose LP records for long-format albums, making the boxed and stacked 45 rpm record sets virtually obsolete. Singles became the format of choice for teen pop music.

Credits

  • Album Released in 1951. Producer: Steven R. Carlin. Film Adaptation: Winston Hibler. Musical Direction: Norman Leyden. Vocal Direction: Jimmy Leyden. Sound Effects: Ralph Curtis. Illustrations: Mel Crawford. Running Time: 8 minutes each record.
  • Voices: Kathryn Beaumont (Alice); Todd Russell (Narrator); Arnold Stang (White Rabbit); Betty Jane Tyler (Alice’s Sister); Naomi Lewis (Caterpillar, Flowers); Jackson Beck (Doorknob, Tweedle Dum, Card); Betty Garde (Queen of Hearts); Frank Milano (Dodo, March Hare, Card); Michael King (Tweedle Dee, Card); Merrill Joels (Cheshire Cat, Card, King of Hearts); Three Beaus and a Peep.
  • Songs and Melodies: “Alice in Wonderland,” “In a World of My Own,” “I’m Late,” “The Caucus Race,” “How D’ye Do and Shake Hands,” “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” “We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out,” “All in the Golden Afternoon,” “‘Twas Brillig,” “The Unbirthday Song,” “Very Good Advice,” “Painting the Roses Red.”
  • Instrumentals: “A-E-I-O-U,” “March of the Cards.”
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