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Faerie Tale Theatre
The 6-DVD box set cover by former distributor Starmaker II.
Genre Fairytale fantasy
Created by Shelley Duvall
Presented by Shelley Duvall
Starring Various
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 27 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Shelley Duvall for Gaylord Productions, Lions Gate Films and Platypus Productions
Running time 50 min.
Original network Showtime
Original release September 11, 1982 (1982-09-11) – November 14, 1987 (1987-11-14)
Followed by Tall Tales & Legends
Nightmare Classics
Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories
Related shows Shirley Temple's Storybook
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child

Faerie Tale Theatre (also known as Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre) is a 1982-1987 American live-action fairytale fantasy anthology television series of 27 episodes, that originally aired on Showtime from September 11, 1982 until November 14, 1987. It is a retelling of 25 fairy tales, particularly those by The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen, plus the poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". Shelley Duvall is the series creator, host, executive producer alongside Bridget Terry and Fred Fuchs, occasional star and narrator, and voice of the animatronic Nightingale. The series, which featured numerous Hollywood stars in character roles, was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Ivan Passer, Emile Ardolino, Tim Burton and others. This is one of the first examples of cable original programming, alongside HBO's Fraggle Rock.

The series was followed by three other less successful shorter anthology series produced by Duvall: Tall Tales & Legends (9 episodes), which follows the same format as Faerie Tale Theatre and focuses on classic American folk tales, Nightmare Classics (4 episodes produced out of the planned 6), and Bedtime Stories (12 episodes).


Shelley Duvall began conception of Faerie Tale Theatre while filming the live-action 1980 film Popeye in Malta. She reportedly asked her co-star, Robin Williams, his opinion on "The Frog Prince", a fairy tale she was reading during production. Williams thought it was funny and would later star in the namesake pilot episode of the series, written, narrated and directed by Monty Python's Eric Idle, who himself would appear in the future episode "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". Many of the episodes produced by Fred Fuchs in association with Duvall, were written by Rod Ash, Mark Curtiss, Maryedith Burrell and Robert C. Jones.

Episodes open with Duvall introducing herself and giving a brief synopsis of the fairy tale to follow. Each episode features live-action adaptations, with celebrities from the performance world in costume. Duvall features in 3 episodes and narrates three others.


List of Faerie Tale Theatre episodes


Many episodes feature backdrops and settings inspired by specific artists and children's book illustrators, including 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"), and George Cruikshank ("Thumbelina"), as well as filmmakers, such as Jean Cocteau ("Beauty and the Beast").


Faerie Tale Theatre won a Peabody Award, a TCA Award, and a Golden CableACE Award. It later aired as edited re-runs on the Disney Channel as well as in syndication on various television stations, including PBS and BookTelevision.

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