Cinderella was a groundbreaking TV movie moment when it aired on Nov. 2, 1997. From the moment we saw Brandy and Whitney Houston, the diverse Disney film was instantly iconic. And now that the film is about to turn 25, ABC is taking a look at its legacy with a special cast reunion, set to air Aug. 23, 2022.
Cinderella made history with Brandy becoming the first Black actress to play the character on screen. The movie also featured a multi-cultural cast that also included Whitney, Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber, Paolo Montalban, and more.
Remarking on Cinderella’s trailblazing diversity for a special 25th-anniversary reunion, Bernadette Peters recalled, “Cinderella was never done that way before. Which was saying to young people that were watching that this could be you. There’s a place for everybody, there’s a chance for everybody. It’s a story for every little boy and girl.”
Brandy Norwood, 43, was hand-picked by Whitney Houston to play Cinderella in the 1997 movie. It was a monumental role for the singer, who remembered having terrible self-confidence at the time. “I thought I was ugly,” she confessed during the 25th-anniversary special. “I turned out to be the first Black princess. That’s pretty unbelievable.”
Less than a year after Cinderella, Brandy released her second album, Never Say Never. Her duet with Monica, “The Boy Is Mine,” became an instant classic and the best-selling song of the year. The same year, Brandy made her feature film debut in the horror film I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
In 2002, she starred in the MTV reality series Brandy: Special Delivery, which documented her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter Sy’rai. Her daughter, whom she shares with Robert “Big Bert” Smith, was born in June 2002. A few years later, she was one of the initial judges of the first season of America’s Got Talent and starred in the VH1 reality series Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business with her family.
Brandy was a contestant in season 11 of Dancing With the Stars. She came in fourth place. Brandy went on to star in TV shows like The Game, Star, and more. She released her seventh album, B7, in July 2020. It was her first album in 8 years. She was in a Verzuz battle with Monica in Aug. 2020, which was a massive hit. She performed at the Billboard Music Awards a few months later. Brandy will be John Legend’s battle advisor during season 20 of The Voice.
Whitney Houston starred as the iconic Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. In addition to starring in the film, Whitney also co-produced it. A year after Cinderella, Whitney released her first album in 8 years, My Love Is Your Love. One of Whitney’s duets on the album, “When You Believe” with Mariah Carey, was featured on The Prince of Egypt soundtrack and won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Over the years, Whitney struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. She went to rehab in 2004. Two years later, she appeared in the reality series Being Bobby Brown with her then-husband Bobby Brown. That same year, Whitney filed for divorce from Bobby after a tumultuous marriage. After 6 years without an album, Whitney released I Look To You in 2009. Whitney entered rehab again in 2011.
Whitney tragically died on Feb. 11, 2012, the day before the Grammys. She was 48 years old. The singer was discovered underwater in her Beverly Hilton bathtub. The cause of death was an accidental drowning. She was survived by her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, who died just 3 years later at the age of 22. Bobbi Kristina was found unconscious in a filled bathtub as well. She died after nearly 6 months in a coma.
Whoopi Goldberg, 66, played Queen Constantina, Prince Christopher’s mother. Whoopi has continued to showcase her talents in a number of ways over the years. She has pursued theater opportunities and won a Tony in 2002 for producing Thoroughly Modern Millie. From 2006 to 2008, the Oscar winner hosted the radio show Wake Up with Whoopi.
Starting in 2007, Whoopi became the new moderator and co-host of The View. She has also starred in movies like Toy Story 3, For Colored Girls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and more. Recently, she starred in the CBS All Access show The Stand. She will appear in the second season of Star Trek: Picard as Guinan. She is set to reprise the beloved role of Deloris Van Cartier in the upcoming Sister Act 3.
Victor Garber, 73, played King Maximillian, Prince Christopher’s father. Just a few weeks after Cinderella aired, Titanic was released. The movie became the top-grossing film of all-time until 2010. Victor starred in the film as Thomas Andrews. He went on to star in other major movies like Legally Blonde, Argo, Milk, and Happiest Season.
One of Victor’s most notable roles is playing Jack Bristowe in the ABC series Alias. The show ran from 2001 to 2006. He guest-starred in shows like Modern Family, Glee, Damages, and Schitt’s Creek. He also played Dr. Martin Stein for nearly 3 seasons of Legends of Tomorrow. He starred in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! in 2018.
Bernadette Peters, 74, played Cinderella’s Stepmother in the 1997 TV film. She is a beloved and extremely talented Broadway performer. One of her best roles is Rose in the 2003 Broadway production Gypsy. She notably replaced Bette Midler in the 2018 Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!
She played Gloria Windsor in 4 seasons of Amazon Prime Video’s Mozart in the Jungle. Bernadette had the recurring role of Lenore in the first 2 seasons of The Good Fight. She recently guest-starred as Ms. Freesia in the short-lived CW series Katy Keene.
Jason Alexander, 62, starred as Lionel in Cinderella. A few years later, he starred in the popular Broadway production of The Producers alongside Matthew Broderick. They went on to star in the 2005 film version. He’s had roles over the years in TV shows like Listen Up!, The Grinder, Goober and Gunkle, and more. Jason voices Sy Borgman in the animated series Harley Quinn. He appeared as Asher Friedman in season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Paolo Montalbán, 49, starred as Prince Christopher. It was his television debut. He played Kung Lao in the Mortal Kombat: Conquest in 1998. Paolo has guest-starred on shows like Madam Secretary, Nurse Jackie, and more. His last TV project was an episode of The Blacklist in 2015. He recently starred in the 2020 film The Girl Who Left Home.
Natalie Desselle played Minerva in the 1997 TV film. In the years after Cinderella, Natalie appeared in shows like For Your Love, ER, Eve, and more. Her movies included Madea’s Big Happy Family, Zoe Gone, and Let Lorenzo. The 2017 film Ya Killin’ Me was her final role. Natalie died on Dec. 7, 2020, after battling colon cancer. She was 53 years old.
Veanne Cox, 59, played Calliope in Cinderella. Her notable film roles post-Cinderella include You’ve Got Mail, Erin Brockovich, and Two Weeks Notice. She has guest-starred in a number of TV shows over the years. Her most recent roles include guest-starring gigs in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, New Amsterdam, and Tommy. Veanne has had an incredible stage career as well. Her productions include An American in Paris, La Cage aux Folles, and more.