In 1969, Sonny & Cher’s management company, DeCarlo-Kretsky Enterprises, was looking for a way to change their clients’ image as America’s family-friendly hippies. The movie CHASTITY was about to come out, written and produced by Sonny and giving Cher her first real chance to act and play a character. With much of their own money invested in it, CHASTITY would flop, costing them a small fortune. CHASTITY’s
ultimate legacy would be the name of their yet to be born daughter—and even that was lost when it turned out Chaz Bono self-identified as a male.
One forgotten Sonny & Cher project, though, was THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, a part-live/part animated feature film said to have been planned along the lines of 1968’s YELLOW SUBMARINE. Sonny, predictably would be the voice of the frog. Helming the project was to be the eccentric choreographer/director David Winters along with his producing partner Burt Rosen. The pair was then coming off a long string of successful, award-winning TV specials for the likes of Lucille Ball and Nancy Sinatra.
It was plugged in VARIETY and on the TV series, HAPPENING ’68, hosted by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Winters and Rosen were also said to be in the planning stages for a TV series (this was still a couple years before their variety series) to star Sonny & Cher. This may or may not have been related to the animated TV special DeCarlo-Kretsky president Harvey Kretsky referred to as THE ODYSSEY OF SONNY AND CHER, being made in association with In-Sync Productions.
In January of 1969, it was reported in the trades that storyboarding was underway for the latter and that it would be ready to air by the end of the year.
At that same time, it was also reported that THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG was to be animated in conjunction with Toho in Japan beginning in February, from a story by John and Susan Charles and a script by Mark Ray.
David Winters is listed as co-“creator” of a 1970 live-action syndicated TV special entitled THE SONNY & CHER NITTY GRITTY HOUR. IMDB lists him as “Producer” but the show’s credits do not. Sonny & Cher were no longer the fur vest-wearing counterculture couple they had seemed to be a few years earlier but not quite yet the lovable, musical, and stylish Bickersons they would soon become.
I find no record as to how far either of the animation projects progressed but it’s clear they were soon forgotten. The new, somewhat more mainstream, sophisticated Sonny & Cher got a number of guest appearance gigs out of the one-off special including an animated spot on the hour-long series, THE NEW SCOOBY DOO MYSTERIES.
It was another TV appearance in this period, on THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW, that was spotted by someone at CBS which led directly to several years of mega-success on TV and records with THE SONNY & CHER COMEDY HOUR.
Then came the divorce. The always conservative Sonny Bono went on to become a controversial Congressman while his greatest creation, Cher, went on to become a legend!