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Faerie Tale Theatre
The 6-DVD Starmaker II box set cover
Also known asShelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre
Fairytale fantasy
Created byShelley Duvall
Presented byShelley Duvall
Starringsee below
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes27 (list of episodes)
Executive producersShelley Duvall for Gaylord Production Company, Lion's Gate Films and Platypus Productions
Fred Fuchs
Running time39–58 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 11, 1982 (1982-09-11) –
November 14, 1987 (1987-11-14)
Tall Tales & Legends
Nightmare Classics
Bedtime Stories

Faerie Tale Theatre (also known as Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre) is an American award-winning live-action fairytale fantasy drama anthology television series of 27 episodes, that originally broadcast nationally on Showtime from September 11, 1982, until November 14, 1987 (before being sold internationally). It is a retelling of 25 classic fairy tales, particularly those written by The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen. Episode 18 was not based on a fairy tale, but rather on the poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin".

The 27th episode was a reunion special of cast and crew, titled "Grimm Party", in which, in fairy tale style, they attend a gala in fancy dress.

The series, as a live-action adaptation, was notable for featuring a number of Hollywood actors and famous celebrities portraying the costumed characters, and also utilized filming by well-known directors.

Faerie Tale Theatre was followed by three other short anthology series also produced by Duvall, including Tall Tales and Legends, which follows a theme similar to the latter, with a focus on American folklore, Nightmare Classics (6 produced of the intended 9 episodes), aimed at an older audience, and Bedtime Stories (12 episodes).

Series background

Actress Shelley Duvall, who conceived the series, served as executive producer and host alongside associate producers Bridget Terry and Fred Fuchs. Duvall also starred in three episodes, portraying various characters, and was a featured narrator of three episodes, as well as providing the voice of the animatronic Nightingale, in the episode of the same title.

Every episode begins with Duvall introducing herself and giving a brief synopsis of the night's fairy-tale episode that would follow.

The series followed a style similar to an earlier fairy-tale anthology series, called Shirley Temple's Storybook, broadcast between 1958 and 1961, in which Shirley Temple serves as narrator, with this series also featuring numerous celebrities portraying the costumed characters.

The series was one of the first examples of original cable programming, alongside HBO's Fraggle Rock.[1]


Duvall began the conception of Faerie Tale Theatre while she was filming the live-action 1980 film, Popeye, in Malta. She reportedly asked her co-star, Robin Williams, for his opinion on "The Frog Prince", a fairy tale that she was reading during production.[2] Williams thought that it was funny, and would later star in the namesake pilot episode of the series that was written, narrated and directed by Monty Python's Eric Idle (who would appear in the episode "The Pied Piper of Hamelin").

Many of the episodes were produced by Fred Fuchs, in association with Duvall, with the screenplays written by Rod Ash, Mark Curtiss, Maryedith Burrell and Robert C. Jones. All of the episodes were produced and shot from 1982 to 1985, and videotaped mostly at the ABC Television Studios in Burbank, California.

Episodes were directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Ivan Passer, Emile Ardolino, and Tim Burton, as well as other famous Hollywood directors.


Main article: List of Faerie Tale Theatre episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
12September 11, 1982 (1982-09-11)October 16, 1982 (1982-10-16)
26February 5, 1983 (1983-02-05)December 5, 1983 (1983-12-05)
37January 9, 1984 (1984-01-09)September 17, 1984 (1984-09-17)
47February 12, 1985 (1985-02-12)October 5, 1985 (1985-10-05)
52July 14, 1986 (1986-07-14)August 11, 1986 (1986-08-11)
63March 23, 1987 (1987-03-23)November 14, 1987 (1987-11-14)


Many episodes feature backdrops and settings inspired by specific artists and children's book illustrators.[3]

Artist Production
Maxfield Parrish The Frog Prince
Norman Rockwell Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Arthur Rackham Hansel and Gretel
Edmund Dulac The Nightingale
Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke The Princess and the Pea
Gustav Klimt Rapunzel
N. C. Wyeth Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Kay Nielsen Sleeping Beauty
Brueghel and Dürer The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers
Jennie Harbour Little Red Riding Hood
George Cruikshank Thumbelina
Aubrey Beardsley The Princess and the Pea
filmmakers, such as Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast

Home media

Faerie Tale Theatre was released on VHS, Betamax, CED and Laserdisc in the 1980s through the mid-1990s, initially by CBS/FOX Video (which was also in Australia), followed by Playhouse Video (an extended label under CBS/FOX) and Razzmatazz Entertainment/Cabin Fever Entertainment. In the UK, it was released by MGM-UA Home Video.

Starmaker II held the rights to the series from 2004 to 2006, and at first, released 26 episodes as individual DVDs.[4] This was followed by a double-sided 4-disc box set and a 6-disc box set, each version containing the same 26 episodes. The "Greatest Moments" episode was not included in this release.

After 2006, Koch Vision held the series' distribution rights, and in November 2006, licensed the rights worldwide (excluding DVDs in North America) to the British company, 3DD Entertainment.[5][6] A remastered 7-disc box set, including the lost "Greatest Moments" episode, was released by Koch Vision in September 2008.[7] In 2009, Koch Vision released the episodes by theme on six DVD compilations: Tales from the Brothers Grimm ("Hansel and Gretel", "Rapunzel", "Rumpelstiltskin" and "Little Red Riding Hood"), Funny Tales ("The Tale of The Frog Prince", "Pinocchio", "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed"), Tales from Hans Christian Andersen ("The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Nightingale", "The Snow Queen" and "Thumbelina"), Princess Tales ("Cinderella", "The Little Mermaid", "The Dancing Princesses" and "The Princess and the Pea"), Magical Tales ("Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp", "Beauty and the Beast", "Puss in Boots" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs") and Bedtime Tales ("Jack and the Beanstalk", "Sleeping Beauty", "Rip Van Winkle" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears").[8]

When released on DVD by Starmaker II and Koch Vision, the following scenes were cut from the series:


Award Result
Peabody Award Won
TCA Award Won
Golden CableACE Award Won

Local and international broadcast

In the United States, the series was originally broadcast on Showtime from 1982 and 1986, and re-aired on the Disney Channel from 1994 and 1996.[9] It was also broadcast in syndication on various television channels,[10] including PBS[11][12] and BookTelevision.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Sandra Salmans (6 February 1984). "Showtime Challenges Rivals". The New York Times – via
  2. ^ Suskin, Steven (2008-09-07). "THE DVD SHELF: "Mad Men" Season One, and Duvall's "Faerie Tale Theatre"". Archived from the original on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  3. ^ Stengel, Richard and Denise Worrell (July 25, 1983). "Video: Cinderella Puts On a Show". Time. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008.
  4. ^ Bianculli, David (October 28, 2004). "Old Family Treasures Unearthed On DVD". New York Daily News.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "3DD Takes On New Properties from U.S. Companies". World Screen. November 3, 2006. Archived from the original on December 19, 2007.
  6. ^ "International Market: 3DD Entertainment". Cynopsis: Multi-Cultural & International Edition. November 6, 2006. Archived from the original on June 1, 2008.
  7. ^ "Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: The Complete Collection (2008)". Amazon. 2 September 2008. ASIN: B001AZIRV8
  8. ^ Catalog
  9. ^ Bianculli, David (September 26, 1995). "Cable Viewers Suffer Unkindest Cuts Of All". New York Daily News.
  10. ^ Nanwalt, Sasha (August 6, 1989). "TELEVISION; Shelley Duvall Tries Scaring Up A New Audience". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Lomartire, Paul (April 21, 1992). "'BEDTIME STORIES' A FINE SHOW FOR KIDS". Palm Beach Post.
  12. ^ KLRU TV Schedule – Search By Title: List of KLRU programs Archived 2012-09-18 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Program Schedule". BookTelevision. March 29, 2007. Archived from the original on March 29, 2007.