Archie Comic Publications, Inc. is an American comic book publisher headquartered in Pelham, New York. The company is known for its many titles featuring fictional teenagers including Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Sabrina Spellman, and Josie and the Pussycats.
The company began in 1939 as MLJ Comics, which primarily published superhero comics. The initial Archie characters (such as Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, and Betty Cooper) first appeared in Pep Comics #22 (cover-dated Dec. 1941). and were created by publisher John L. Goldwater and artist Bob Montana, in collaboration with writer Vic Bloom. By creating Archie, Goldwater hoped to appeal to fans of the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney.
Archie Comics is also the title of the company's longest-running publication, the first issue appearing with a cover date of Winter 1942. Starting with issue #114, the title was shortened to simply Archie. The flagship series was relaunched from issue #1 in July 2015 with a new look and design suited for a new generation of readers. Archie Comics characters and concepts have also appeared in numerous films, television programs, cartoons, and video games, including the hit 2017 television drama series Riverdale.
1939–1946: Early years
Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater formed MLJ Magazines and started publishing in November 1939. The company name was derived from the initials of the partners' first names.
Coyne served as MLJ's bookkeeper and chief financial officer. Coyne and Silberkleit had been partners in Columbia Publications, a pulp and eventually digest magazine company that published its last fiction magazines in 1960. Silberkleit had a college degree from St. John's University, was a licensed and registered pharmacist, and had a law degree from New York Law School. His efforts were focused on the business, printing, separating, distribution and financial ends of the company. John Goldwater served as editor-in-chief. Goldwater was one of the founders of the Comics Magazine Association of America, and he served as its president for 25 years. (The Comics Magazine Association of America is best known to comic fans for its Comics Code Authority.) Goldwater was also a national commissioner of the Anti-Defamation League.
MLJ's first comic book, published in November 1939, was Blue Ribbon Comics, with the first half of the book in full color and the last half in red and white tints. Top Notch Comics was launched in December 1939. In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted with the Shield, the first USA patriotic comic book hero, created by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and designed by artist Irv Novick. The Shield was a forerunner of Joe Simon's and Jack Kirby's Captain America, being published 14 months earlier. Until March 1944, the cover feature of Pep was the Shield, at which point Archie took over the cover.
The Andy Hardy movies were an inspiration for Goldwater to have a comic book about a relatable normal person. Teenaged Archibald "Archie" Andrews debuted with Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones in Pep Comics #22 (Dec. 1941), in a story by writer Vic Bloom and artist Bob Montana. Archie soon became MLJ Magazine's headliner, which led to the company changing its name to Archie Comic Publications. Siberkleit and Coyne discontinued Columbia Publications in 1960. In the late 1950s, Archie Publishing launched its "Archie Adventure Series" line with a new version of the Shield and two new characters.
The February 1962 issue of Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine featured his parody of the Archie characters in its Goodman Beaver story, "Goodman Goes Playboy", which was illustrated by frequent collaborator Will Elder.Help! publisher Jim Warren received a letter on December 6, 1961, accusing Help! of copyright infringement and demanding removal of the offending issue from newsstands. Warren was unable to recall the magazine, but he agreed to settle out of court rather than risk an expensive lawsuit. Warren paid Archie Comics $1000, and ran a note of apology in a subsequent issue of Help! The story was reprinted in the book collection Executive Comic Book in 1962, with the artwork modified by Elder to obscure the appearance of the Archie characters. Archie Comics found their appearance still too close to its copyrighted properties, and threatened another lawsuit. Kurtzman and Elder settled out of court by handing over the copyright to the story. Archie Comics held onto the copyright and refused to allow the story to be republished. A request from Denis Kitchen in 1983 to include the story in his Goodman Beaver reprint collection was turned down. After The Comics Journal co-owner Gary Groth discovered that Archie Comics had allowed the copyright on "Goodman Goes Playboy" to expire, he had the story reprinted in The Comics Journal #262 (September 2004), and made it available as a PDF on the magazine's website.
In the mid-1960s, during the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books, Archie switched its superheroes to a new imprint, "Mighty Comics Group," with the MLJ heroes done in the campy humor of the Batman TV show. This imprint ended in 1967.
In the early 1970s, Archie Enterprises Inc. went public. Just over 10 years later, Louis Silberkleit's son Michael and John Goldwater's son Richard returned Archie Comic Publications to private ownership. Michael Silberkleit served as chairman and co-publisher, while Richard Goldwater served as president and co-publisher. Coyne retired in the 1970s as CFO.
Around 1972, Archie Enterprises, Inc. decided to further diversify into food service operations, which led to the creation of a restaurant chain, Archie's Family Restaurants, in partnership with BarKo Group, Inc.. However, only two restaurants were actually built, and they were so badly mismanaged that the company ended up closing them down.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Spire Christian Comics, a line of comic books by Fleming H. Revell, obtained license to feature the Archie characters in several of its titles, including Archie's Sonshine,Archie's Roller Coaster,Archie's Family Album, and Archie's Parables. These comics used Archie and his friends to tell stories with strong Christian themes and morals, sometimes incorporating Bible scripture. In at least one instance, the regular characters meet a Christ-like figure on the beach, and listen as he gently preaches Christian values.
Archie launched a short-lived fantasy and horror imprint, Red Circle Comics, in the 1970s. The company revived that imprint in the 1980s for its brief line of superheroes comics. Later in the 1980s, Archie planned to publish superheroes again with the Spectrum Comics imprint, featuring a number of high-profile talents, but it cancelled this attempt before publishing a single issue.
Having licensed Archie's MLJ Superheroes in 1991, DC Comics launched its imprint Impact Comics with these heroes.
On April 4, 2003, Dad's Garage Theatre Company in Atlanta was scheduled to debut a new play by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Archie's Weird Fantasy, which depicted Riverdale's most famous resident coming out of the closet and moving to New York. The day before the play was scheduled to open, Archie Comics issued a cease and desist order, threatening litigation if the play proceeded as written. Dad's Garage artistic director Sean Daniels said, "The play was to depict Archie and his pals from Riverdale growing up, coming out and facing censorship. Archie Comics thought if Archie was portrayed as being gay, that would dilute and tarnish his image." It opened a few days later as "Weird Comic Book Fantasy" with the character names changed. In 2014, Aguirre-Sacasa would become Archie's Chief Creative Officer.
Bill Yoshida learned comic book lettering from Ben Oda and was hired in 1965 by Archie Comics, where he averaged 75 pages a week for 40 years for an approximate total of 156,000 pages.
Archie Comics sued music duo The Veronicas for trademark infringement in 2005 over the band's name, which Archie Comics alleges was taken from the comic book character. Archie Comics and Sire Records (The Veronicas's record label) reached a settlement involving co-promotion.
In 2008, Archie Publications once again licensed DC Comics its MLJ Super heroes for a DC Universe integrated line, Red Circle.
Following Richard Goldwater's death in 2007 and Michael Silberkleit's in 2008, Silberkleit's widow Nancy and Goldwater's half brother Jonathan became co-CEOs in 2009. Nancy Silberkleit, a former elementary-school art teacher, was given responsibility for scholastic and theater projects, and Jon Goldwater, a former rock/pop music manager, was responsible for running the company's day-to-day publishing and entertainment efforts. The company sued Silberkleit in July 2011, and Goldwater filed another lawsuit against her in January 2012, alleging she was making bad business decisions and alienating staff; she in turn sued him for defamation. As of February 2012, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich, in Manhattan, had fined Silberkleit $500 for violating the court's autumn order temporarily barring her from the company's headquarters, and said the court might appoint a temporary receiver to protect the company's assets. As of May 2016, these legal proceedings had been resolved.
Beginning in 2010, the company partnered with Random House Publisher Services for its bookstore distribution which included trade paperbacks, original graphic novels and additional book formats. Archie Comics saw its graphic novel and collected edition output increase from 11 book titles that year to 33 in 2012, and 40 in 2013. The company's sales also increased by 410% for books and 1,000% for e-books since 2010.
Beginning in July 2010, the first issue of Life with Archie was launched. The series featured two different storylines exploring two possible futures — a world where Archie marries Betty and a world where he marries Veronica. The series also incorporated more contemporary themes including death, marriage woes, same-sex marriage, cancer, financial problems and gun control.
Kevin Keller, Archie Comics' first gay character, debuted in Veronica #202 in September 2010. The character was created out of a conversation between Goldwater and longtime Archie Comics writer-artist Dan Parent during the company’s first creative summit, about bringing more diversity to Riverdale. The issue sold out at the distributor level, prompting Archie Comics for the first time to issue a second edition of a comic. In June 2011, Keller was featured in his own four-part miniseries. A bimonthly Kevin Keller series launched with writer-artist Parent in early 2012 received a GLAAD award for Outstanding Comic Book the following year.
In March 2011, a copy of Archie Comics #1, first published in 1942, was sold at auction for $167,300, a record for a non-superhero comic book.
In April 2011, Archie Comics became the first mainstream comic-book publisher to make its entire line available digitally on the same day as the print release. At the New York Comic Con in October 2011, Archie Comics announced that its superheroes would return as an all-digital line under the Red Circle imprint, a subscription model with back-issue archive access. The imprint started in 2012 with a new New Crusaders series.
In October 2013, Archie Comics launched its first horror title, Afterlife with Archie, depicting Archie and the gang dealing with a zombie apocalypse that begins in their hometown of Riverdale. Written by Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by artist Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie was also the first Archie Comics title to be sold exclusively to comic shops and to carry a rating of "Teen+". The series adapted the Archie characters into a world with adult themes and horror tropes including zombies, the occult, demons, and Cthulhu.
The success of Afterlife with Archie led to a second horror series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which launched in October 2014 from Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack.Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes place in the 1960s in the town of Greendale and follows a 16-year-old Sabrina Spellman as she struggles to balance her responsibilities as a witch-in-training with her feelings for her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle.
On April 9, 2014, Archie Comics announced that the adult version of Archie Andrews featured in the Life with Archie series would die in issue #36 (July 2014), which would also be the second-to-last issue. Goldwater said Archie's final fate would be the same in both of the possible parallel futures covered by the series. This version of Archie was killed saving Senator Kevin Keller from an assassination attempt.
In July 2014, Archie Comics announced that its superhero imprint Red Circle Comics would be rebranded as Dark Circle Comics in 2015. The new imprint focuses on self-contained stories featuring the superheroes from the Red Circle library while exploring the crime, horror, and adventure genres. The first wave included the superheroes the Black Hood, the Fox, and the Shield. Dark Circle Comics debuted with The Black Hood #1 (Feb. 2015) by writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Michael Gaydos in February 2015. The mature-readers title introduced police officer Gregory Hettinger, the new Black Hood, who struggles with an addiction to painkillers as a result of a shooting outside a school in Philadelphia. The launch continued with The Fox (April 2015), picking up where Red Circle's The Fox series had left. The series was co-written by Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid with art by Haspiel.The Shield #1 (Oct. 2015) from co-writers Chuck Wendig and Adam Christopher and artist Drew Johnson debuted a new, female Shield named Victoria Adams.The Hangman #1 (Nov. 2015) introduced a supernatural horror series from writer Frank Tieri and artist Felix Ruiz about mob hit-man Mike Minetta making a deal with the devil to become the new Hangman after the previous person to wear the mantle ascended to Heaven.
Archie Comics launched a $350,000 Kickstarter in May 2015 campaign to help the publisher get three additional series out to the public sooner than otherwise: 'Life with Kevin, focusing on Kevin Keller, and new Jughead and Betty and Veronica series. Five days later, Archie Comics cancelled the campaign after critical response. The company stated that the three titles would still be published at a later time.
In March 2015, Archie Comics announced that its two delayed horror series would return under a new imprint, Archie Horror, with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 and Afterlife with Archie #8 being released in April and May.
In December 2014, Archie Comics announced that its flagship series Archie would relaunch with a new first issue in July 2015. The new series would be a modern take on the Archie characters by writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples, featuring serialized storylines. After the first three issues, Annie Wu drew an issue, followed by new regular artist Veronica Fish. The new title received IGN's "Best New Comic Series of 2015" award.
The first title in the company's New Riverdale universe, Archie was released with a July 2015 cover date and came in at #7 for comic book sales for the month. The next title, Jughead, was released in October. In April 2015, Archie Comics announced Betty and Veronica which debuted in July 2016. Also announced was Life with Kevin, a digital-first mini-series that debuted in June 2016.Josie and the Pussycats and Reggie and Me followed in September and December 2016.
Main article: List of Archie Comics characters
Archie and Riverdale
Main article: Archie Andrews
Archie is set in the fictional small town of Riverdale. The state or even the general location of the town remains unspecified.
The New York Times postulated that "the cartoonist Bob Montana inked the original likenesses of Archie and his pals and plopped them in an idyllic Midwestern community named Riverdale because Mr. Goldwater, a New Yorker, had fond memories of time spent in Hiawatha, Kansas."
Main article: Dark Circle Comics
Initially, MLJ started out publishing humor and adventure strips in anthology comic books as was the standard, but quickly added superheroes in their first title's second issue, Blue Ribbon Comics #2, with Bob Phantom. In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted featuring the Shield, America's first patriotic comic book hero, by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick. MLJ's Golden Age heroes also included the Black Hood, who also appeared in pulp magazines and a radio show; and the Wizard, who shared a title with the Shield.
Later revivals of the MLJ superheroes occurred under a number of imprints: Archie Adventure Series, Mighty Comics, Red Circle Comics and one aborted attempt, Spectrum Comics. Archies Publications then licensed them out to DC Comics in the 1990s for Impact Comics universe imprint then again in 2008 for a DC Universe integrated Red Circle line.
Archie's Silver Age relaunch of its superheroes under the Archie Adventure Series imprint and then the Mighty Comics imprint began with a new version of the Shield and two new characters the Jaguar and the Fly. In the mid-1960s with the Silver Age of Comics, Archie switched the heroes to a new imprint, "Mighty Comics Group", with the revival of all the MLJ heroes done as Marvel parodies with "the campy humor of the Batman TV show." This imprint shift soon brought the company its first super hero team book similar to Marvel's Avengers with the Mighty Crusaders. This imprint ended in 1967.
With the conversion of Archie's Red Circle Comics from horror to superheroes in the 1980s, the Mighty Crusaders, Black Hood, the Comet, the Fly and two version of the Shields had their own titles.
Archie planned to publish superheroes again in the late 1980s with an imprint called Spectrum Comics, featuring a number of high-profile talents, including Steve Englehart, Jim Valentino, Marv Wolfman, Michael Bair, Kelley Jones, and Rob Liefeld. Planned Spectrum titles included The Fly, The Fox, Hangman, Jaguar, Mister Justice, and The Shield. Ultimately, Archie cancelled Spectrum Comics before publishing a single issue.
In 2012, Archie Comics relaunched its superhero imprint, Red Circle Comics, as an all-digital line under a subscription model with back issues archive access starting with New Crusader.
In 2015, Archie Comics rebranded its superhero imprint under the new title, Dark Circle Comics. It was launched in February with The Black Hood followed by the launch of The Fox in April, while The Shield and The Hangman followed in September and November.
Main article: List of Archie Comics publications
See also: List of Archie Comics imprint publications
Titles in publication as of 2018
- Archie vol. 2 (July 2015– )
- The Archies (Oct. 2017- )
- Betty and Veronica: Vixens (Nov. 2017- )
Dark Circle Comics
- The Mighty Crusaders (Dec. 2017- )
The Archie Library
- Archie Comics Double Digest (Jan. 1982– )
- Betty and Veronica Comics Double Digest (June 1987– )
- World of Archie Comics Double Digest (Oct. 2010– )
- B & V Friends Comics Double Digest (Nov. 2010– )
- Archie's Funhouse Comics Double Digest (Jan. 2014– )
- Jughead and Archie Comics Double Digest (June 2014– )
- Archie and Me Comics Digest (Oct. 2017– )
"New look" series
In 2007, Archie Comics launched a "new look" series of stories, featuring Archie characters drawn in an updated, less cartoony style similar to the characters' first appearance. There are a total of seven storylines and each one was published as a four-part storyline in a digest series. Also each "new look" story was based on a Riverdale High novel, a series of twelve novels that were published in the 1990s. The only Riverdale High novels that were not adapted into one of these stories are The Trouble With Candy, Rich Girls Don't Have to Worry, Is That Arabella?, Goodbye Millions, and Tour Troubles due to the "new look" series ending in 2010.
- Archie Archives Vol. 1 (Pep Comics #22–38; Archie Comics #1–2; Jackpot Comics #4–8)
- Archie Archives Vol. 2 (Pep Comics #39–45; Archie Comics #3–6; Jackpot Comics #9)
- Archie Archives Vol. 3 (Pep Comics #46–50; Archie Comics #7–10)
- Archie Archives Vol. 4 (Pep Comics #51–53; Archie Comics #11–14)
- Archie Archives Vol. 5 (Pep Comics #54–56; Archie Comics #15–18)
- Archie Archives Vol. 6 (Pep Comics #57–58; Archie Comics #19–22)
- Archie Archives Vol. 7 (Pep Comics #59–61; Archie Comics #23–25; Laugh Comics #20–21)
- Archie Archives Vol. 8 (Pep Comics #62–64; Archie Comics #26–28; Laugh Comics #22–23)
- Archie Archives Vol. 9 (Pep Comics #65–67; Archie Comics #29–31; Laugh Comics #25–26)
Honors and awards
The United States Postal Service included Archie in a set of five 44-cent commemorative postage stamps on the theme "Sunday Funnies", issued July 16, 2010. The Archie stamp featured Veronica, Archie, and Betty sharing a chocolate milkshake. The other stamps depicted characters from the comic strips Beetle Bailey, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, and Dennis the Menace.
Archie characters in other media
See also: List of television series and films based on Archie Comics
In 1968, CBS began airing episodes of The Archie Show, a cartoon series produced by Filmation. The show proved popular enough that further spin-offs and iterations of The Archie Show remained in production for Saturday morning television for the next decade. Many of the Filmation Archie series repurposed segments from the previous shows alongside new material; a number if them also featured segments starring Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
In 1970, Sabrina was spun off into her own animated series, also produced by Filmation. That same year, another Archie property received the Saturday morning cartoon treatment: Josie and the Pussycats. Unlike Archie and Sabrina, Josie's show was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, the company behind such animated hits as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and a show directly influenced by The Archie Show's success, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. The show was followed by a spin-off, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, in 1972. The Archie Show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats, and several of the spin-off shows including Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space are currently available on DVD in complete series boxed sets.
In 1987, DIC Entertainment produced an NBC Saturday morning cartoon, The New Archies. This children's television cartoon re-imagined the teenage students of Riverdale High School as pre-teens in junior high. Fourteen episodes of the show were produced, which aired during the show's only season in 1987 and were repeated in 1989. A short-lived Archie Comics series was produced bearing the same title and set in the same universe as the animated series. Reruns of the series ran on The Family Channel's Saturday morning lineup from 1991 to 1993, and on Toon Disney from 1998 to 2002. The cast was basically the same, but Dilton Doiley was replaced as the "intellectual" character by an African American named Eugene. Eugene's girlfriend Amani was another addition to the cast. Archie also gained a dog named Red.
In 1999, another animated program featuring Archie and his friends was produced by DIC Entertainment. Archie's Weird Mysteries featured core Archie characters solving mysteries occurring in their hometown of Riverdale. The show ran on the PAX network for a single 40-episode season, and continues to air sporadically in reruns on various other networks. The complete series was released on DVD in 2012. As a companion to the Archie series, DIC also produced Sabrina: the Animated Series, Sabrina's Secret Life and Sabrina: Friends Forever; the cartoons featured Sabrina and her aunts at a younger age than they were in the comic books. Tie-in comic book titles were produced for all of these series.
In 2012, it was announced that MoonScoop would produce a new Sabrina the Teenage Witch series titled Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch. It ran for a single 26-episode season on Hub Network from October 2013 until June 2014.
In 2013, MoonScoop announced that it will also produce a new Archie animated series titled It's Archie which will feature Archie and friends in junior high. The first season was set to feature 52 11-minute episodes. However, since its announcement no other information about the series has been released.
1960s TV pilots
In 1962, a TV pilot titled Life With Archie was produced, starring Frank Bank as Archie. In 1964, a second pilot was filmed, titled Archie, starring John Simpson as Archie and William Schallert as his father.
1970s TV specials
In 1976, ABC and producer James Komack brought Archie to TV in ABC Saturday Comedy Special: Archie. Initially, David Caruso was cast as Archie, but was replaced at the last moment by Dennis Bowen. TV Guide erroneously listed Caruso in the role.Audrey Landers played Betty, Derrel Maury played Jughead, and Gordon Jump played Fred Andrews, although he thought he was cast as Mr. Weatherbee, and had to learn Fred's dialogue shortly before taping. The show was a blend of situation comedy, variety, and musical performances, and is notable for being, to date, the only live action appearance of Li'l Jinx.
In 1978, perhaps due to Gordon Jump's popularity on WKRP in Cincinnati, the special was reedited with some new segments, and rebroadcast as The Archie Situation Comedy Musical Variety Special.
Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again
In 1990, NBC aired Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again (titled Archie: Return to Riverdale on video), a TV movie featuring Christopher Rich as a 30-something Archie Andrews who returns to his hometown for a high school reunion, and reunites with Betty, Veronica, and several other original comic book characters.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Main article: Sabrina the Teenage Witch (TV series)
In 1996, cable network Showtime aired Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a live-action TV movie starring Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina. The film served as the pilot for a TV series, also starring Hart, which began airing in the fall of 1996 on ABC, followed by a September 2000 move to The WB. The sitcom was relatively faithful to the comic book series, and enjoyed a lengthy run until 2003. It is now available in its entirety on DVD, as is the original TV movie.
Main article: Riverdale (2017 TV series)
By October 2014, following attempts at Warner Bros. Pictures to develop an Archie feature film,Greg Berlanti was developing a drama series for Fox titled Riverdale. Berlanti and Sarah Schechter served as executive producers through Berlanti Productions, with Warner Bros. Television as the studio and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa writing the series. The series features Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Kevin, Cheryl, and Josie & the Pussycats. In July 2015, the pilot was moved to The CW. In addition to the series offering a bold, subversive take on the gang, Aguirre-Sacasa has described Riverdale as "Archie meets Twin Peaks".
The pilot was ordered by the network in January 2016 and filming began that spring. In February 2016, Deadline reported that KJ Apa had been cast in the lead role as Archie Andrews.Riverdale premiered on January 26, 2017 on The CW in the United States, premiering the next day in other territories on Netflix.
In 2001, Universal Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released Josie and the Pussycats, based on the comic of the same name.
In 2003, Miramax announced that they were working on a Betty and Veronica movie, but the project was cancelled.
In 2013, Warner Bros. closed a deal for a live-action movie based on the Archie Comics books with Roy Lee and Dan Lin producing, Jon Goldwater, Krishnan Menon and Jon Silk executive producing, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa writing and Jason Moore signed on to direct. The film was described as a "high school comedy based on the original line of Archie Comics set in present-day Riverdale". While production stalled on the project as a feature, Aguirre-Sacasa redeveloped the project for Warner Bros. as the television drama series Riverdale. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Aguirre-Sacasa has hinted about doing an Afterlife with Archie film.
In 2018, an Indian film titled Archie in Bollywood is in the works.
The Archie Andrews radio program ran from 1943 thru 1953. It first aired on the Blue Network, then moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1944, then settled on NBC in 1945 for the duration of its run. For most of the run, Bob Hastings played Archie, with Harlan Stone as Jughead.
In 2015, Archie Comics announced that they would be bringing Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the Riverdale gang to Broadway with an all-new musical. Adam McKay is set to write the book for the show while Funny Or Die will serve as a presenting partner. CEO Jon Goldwater and CCO Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will oversee production. Triptyk Studios packaged the partnership and Tara Smith, B. Swibel and Adam Westbrook will oversee development of the musical for the company. At this time no creative team for the musical has been announced. However, due to errors with the rights, this project was scrapped.
In 2014, the Tripoli Gallery in Southampton, New York, displayed a collected of oil paintings by Gordon Stevenson, also known as Baron Von Fancy, featuring Archie Comic characters in adult-oriented scenes.
In connection with the Filmation animated cartoon series, a fictional band known as The Archies was created in 1968. Its songs were recorded by set of studio musicians assembled by music producer Don Kirshner. Their most successful song, "Sugar, Sugar" (1969), written by Andy Kim and with vocals by Ron Dante, became one of the biggest hits of the bubblegum pop genre that flourished from 1968 to 1972.
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- ^Fleming H. Revell Company (1974). Archie's Sonshine: 12–17.
This article is about the first two seasons (1998–1999). For the 2003 sequel, see My Fair Princess III. For the 2011 remake, see New My Fair Princess.
My Fair Princess, also known as Return of the Pearl Princess or Princess Returning Pearl (Chinese: 還珠格格), is a 1998–1999 television costume drama jointly produced by Yi Ren Communications Co. (怡人傳播公司) in Taiwan and Hunan Broadcasting System in Mainland China. Season 1 (1998) was filmed in 1997, and Season 2 (1999) in 1998–1999. Both seasons were filmed in Beijing, Chengde and the Bashang Plateau on the mainland, and first shown on China Television in Taiwan.
Written by creator Chiung Yao, the Cinderella-like story is set in 18th-century Qing dynasty during the Qianlong Emperor's reign. It follows tomboyish and innocent Xiaoyanzi, originally an orphaned and semiliterate vagrant in Beijing who, after befriending the emperor's illegitimate daughter Xia Ziwei, becomes a princess by accident. Although some characters, the plot premise, and certain sections of the story are based on historical events and figures, considerable artistic license was employed.
A massive international hit in East Asia and Southeast Asia, the drama is considered the most commercially successful Chinese-language series in history. Hunan Broadcasting System, after achieving ratings as high as 65% of audience shares, permanently became China's second largest network. Meanwhile, little-known cast members were made household names and huge teen idols over night, like the actress trio of Zhao Wei, Ruby Lin and Fan Bingbing, who are still among the biggest stars in Chinese entertainment more than 15 years later.
After a successful writing career which saw many of her works adapted into films and television, Taiwanese romance novelist Chiung Yao and her husband Ping Hsin-tao established Yi Ren Communications Co. (怡人傳播公司) in 1985 to produce television dramas. (The company later transferred to Chiung Yao's son Chen Chung-wei and daughter-in-law Ho Hsiu-chiung.) In 1987, Taiwan's government allowed visits to Mainland China for the first time since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. In her first trip in 1988, Chiung Yao became friends with Ouyang Changlin, then a reporter working for Hunan Broadcasting System (HBS), who encouraged her to start producing dramas in Mainland China due to more diverse landscape and cheaper labor cost.
In 1989, Chiung Yao began filming for the first time in Mainland China in Changsha, Hunan, assisted by HBS and Beijing Television (BTV). Most actors, equipment and production crew came from Taiwan, while the Chinese stations produced chiefly cheap labor (such as extra actors) in exchange for broadcasting rights in the mainland. Being the first Taiwanese television production assisted by Mainland stations, the drama Wan-chun ran into many problems with Taiwan's government. However, as years go by, restrictions in Taiwan became less and Chiung Yao began to use more and more Mainland actors and crew members in her productions, such as director Li Ping. The sophistication and quality of China's television production also improved dramatically in the 1990s during the Chinese economic reform, while the market also began to surpass Taiwan's as the economy became more market-oriented. By 1992, HBS was no longer just a collaborator in Chiung Yao's productions but a financial partner and a co-producer.
In 1995, Ouyang became the station head of HBS. As Chiung Yao had an agreement with Taiwan's China Television (CTV) to produce 2 dramas for CTV for 1998, Ouyang and Chiung Yao decided to produce them together. The first drama, Tears in Heaven (蒼天有淚), featured a more established cast of Jiang Qinqin, Vincent Chiao, Athena Chu, Chen Chao-jung and Deng Jie and was anticipated to be more successful, drawing considerable resources from the companies. The second drama of the year was thus left with a limited budget.
In 1997, during a tour of Beijing, Chiung Yao passed Gongzhufen (literally "Princess's Tomb"). She was told of the story behind the place: according to popular legends, the Qianlong Emperor had adopted a daughter from the commoners population; she was buried there alone as she was not deemed fit to be buried with the other Manchu princesses. Nothing else was known about her. From this legend, Chiung Yao decided to write My Fair Princess as the second drama series.
Cast and characters
See also: List of My Fair Princess characters
- Zhao Wei as Xiaoyanzi
- Ruby Lin as Xia Ziwei and Xia Yuhe (Season 1)
- Alec Su as Yongqi
- Zhou Jie as Fu Erkang
- Zhang Tielin as Qianlong Emperor
- Fan Bingbing as Jinsuo
- Dai Chunrong as the empress
- Zhao Lijuan as Consort Ling
- Li Mingqi as Wet-Nurse Rong
- Lu Shiyu as Liu Qing
- Chen Ying as Liu Hong
- Wen Haibo as Fu Lun
- Liu Fang as Fu Lun's wife
- Xue Yan as Xiaodengzi
- Li Nan (Season 1) as Xiaozhuozi
- Liu Wei (Season 2) as Xiaozhuozi
- Yu Mengjie as Mingyue
- Liu Fangyu (Season 1) as Caixia
- Li Bingqiao (Season 2) as Caixia
- Julian Chen as Fu Ertai (Season 1)
- Zhang Heng as Princess Saiya (Season 1)
- Liu Dan as Ji Xiaolan (Season 1)
- Zhang Wei as Fu Heng (Season 1)
- You Long as E Min (Season 1)
- Liu Wei as Liang Tinggui (Season 1)
- Wang Yi as Baleben (Season 1)
- Miao Haojun as Sai Wei (Season 1)
- Zhu Jinglong as Sai Guang (Season 1)
- Ai Yang as Dongxue (Season 1)
- Dong Wei as Lamei (Season 1)
- Yang Dong as Cailian (Season 1)
- Zheng Jiaxin as Du Ruolan (Season 1)
- Zhao Minfen as the empress dowager (Season 2)
- Wang Yan as Qing'er (Season 2)
- Liu Dan as Hanxiang (Season 2)
- Zhu Hongjia as Xiao Jian (Season 2)
- Mou Fengbin as Mengdan (Merdan) (Season 2)
- Chen Yifang as Weina (Season 2)
- Zhong Xiaodan as Jina (Season 2)
- Yin Wei as Ali Hezhuo (Ali Khoja) (Season 2)
- Xu Fulai as Shop-Owner Du (Season 2)
- Wang Hong as Shop-Owner Du's wife (Season 2)
- Hu Yasi as Xiaogezi (Season 2)
- Zhai Yuerong as Wet-Nurse Gui (Season 2)
In the mid-1990s, Taiwanese agent Lee Ching-ping was in Beijing scouting for prospective local actors when a referrer sent her a tape of the obscure 1995 Chinese drama Adventures of Sisters in Beijing (姐姐妹妹闯北京). The recommended actress left little impression, but a supporting actress "with big eyes" caught Lee's attention. Eventually Lee located that actress, Zhao Wei (Vicki Zhao), who in 1997 was a 21-year-old freshman in the Performing Institute of Beijing Film Academy. Chiung Yao was also impressed by Zhao's acting and decided to cast her in the major role of Xia Ziwei, after reaching an agreement with her school.
Taiwanese actress Lee Ting-yi was originally chosen to portray the titular character Xiaoyanzi. However, about a week before filming was to begin, the producers learned that she could not participate due to schedule conflicts with a film of hers. Since there was little time left, the company wanted to know whether Zhao, already provided with the script and asked to memorize Ziwei's lines, would be willing to portray Xiaoyanzi instead. As Lee Ching-ping remembered in 2007:
I quite nervously called her and tried to soften my words, I was thinking, how do I make her receptive and not hurt her (feelings)?... Once (I) finished, she screamed. I thought she was upset, so I asked her, "what's wrong?" She said, "(I'm) ecstatic!" As soon as she started reading the script, she fell in love with that character (Xiaoyanzi). But she had been afraid to mention it, probably embarrassed as well, (as) she was still a student.
Other reshuffling was also in order. After considering 15-year-old Fan Bingbing (eventually cast as Jinsuo), the company settled on 21-year-old Ruby Lin, originally cast as Princess Saiya, to portray Ziwei. (Zhao's classmate in Beijing Film Academy, Zhang Heng, became Saiya.) Lin had just signed with Chiung Yao's company and was better known—though by no means famous—in her native Taiwan. However, after a few days of filming, sponsors did not find her beautiful and wanted her replaced. Her return flight to Taiwan was bought and her replacement had arrived on the set. (The actress set to replace her, Zheng Zefan or Zheng Jiaxin, was also Zhao's classmate. She was eventually cast as the minor character Du Ruolan.) With the Taiwanese director Sun Shu-pei predicting "Ruby Lin will be very popular one day" and insisting on keeping her, Lin was at the end allowed to stay, but those difficult days drew her closer to Zhao, who took her around in Beijing in an effort to cheer her up.
Former boy band members Alec Su (Yongqi) and Julian Chen (Fu Ertai) of the disbanded Xiao Hu Dui[note 1]—neither with much acting experience—and Zhang Tielin (Qianlong Emperor) were the only notable cast members. Due to budget limitations, many cast members were film school students, like Zhao and her classmates. Even the older actors had limited television experiences; for example Zhou Jie (Fu Erkang) was a stage actor under the National Theatre Company of China, while Dai Chunrong (the empress) was a qinqiang actress.[note 2]
Filming began on 18 July 1997 in Beijing. Unable to afford the cost of filming inside the Forbidden City, most scenes were shot in Chengde Mountain Resort, Chengde, Hebei as well as several locations in Beijing: Prince Gong Mansion, Beijing Grand View Garden, Miniature Garden of Old Beijing, and Beijing Film Studio. Sun Shu-pei remembered being jealous of the large-budget Yongzheng Dynasty, filming next to them in Chengde. To save cost, all jewelries used were made of plastic, and Zhao Wei developed an infection from reaction to the plastic earrings.
Not only did cast members all make less than ¥48,000 (roughly $5800 in 1997) for 5 months of filming,[note 3] they were also subjected to extremely long working hours. According to Sun, "the actors normally got up at night to do makeups and apply costumes, and film all the way until it was too dark to see. Sometimes they could not sleep at all." Zhang Tielin estimated "two to three hours" of sleep each night and recalled Zhao and Lin stumbling downstairs in each other's arms half-asleep, tripping and sliding to the bottom of a car as they tried to enter it in frigid weather, and sleeping on a narrow bench together at the set. Zhao remembered throwing up from exhaustion. Despite frequently having to get up at 3:30 AM, none of the young actors waited until arriving at the set to start memorizing lines, according to Li Mingqi (Wet-Nurse Rong), the oldest actor:
I believe because they respected Chiung Yao a lot, they worked extremely hard. All of them being able to endure so much hardship, they really earned my admiration. I feel all of the [fame and riches] they later received, they deserved them. The hardship these kids endured when they shot My Fair Princess was indescribable with words, it was too much.
Season 2 began filming on 15 September 1998 with a much larger budget, owing to the unexpected success of Season 1. In addition to Season 1 locations, Season 2 was also filmed in Kangxi Grassland, Xiangshan Park, Workers Cultural Palace and Mei Lanfang's former residence (all in Beijing).
Unlike the "neglected" Season 1 where not a single outsider showed up to watch the filming, Season 2's filming was extensively covered by the media. Every morning, leaving the hotel was difficult for the cast members, as it was filled with fans, many from out of town. Describing the madness, Fan Bingbing wrote in 2004:
Normally 1,000 or 2,000 people would gather in front of the Beijing Film Studio to ask for our signatures. From winter to summer, there would always be huge crowds surrounding the shooting area of the set. I would hear people yell out my name, "Fan Bingbing, Fan Bingbing..." When it was time to go to the W.C., five or six staff members had to escort us.
Season 1 (1998)
In the year 1759, 17-year-old[note 4] Xia Ziwei and her maid Jinsuo travel from Jinan to the Qing Empire capital Beijing, in an effort to meet her father, the Qianlong Emperor, for the first time. Qianlong Emperor had a relationship with her mother Xia Yuhe during a trip to Daming Lake, Jinan 18 years ago, and Xia Yuhe had held the secret away from Ziwei until her recent death, before which she told Ziwei to seek her father. Unable to enter the Forbidden City, Ziwei and Jinsuo meet adventuress Xiaoyanzi, also 17, at a wedding. An orphan since a young age, Xiaoyanzi lives with siblings Liu Qing and Liu Hong in a dazayuan (residential compound). The two girls become sworn sisters, and Ziwei informs Xiaoyanzi of her mission.
Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei decide that going to the mountains during the emperor's hunting trip offers the best chance to meet him. As the climb proves too difficult for the frail Ziwei and Jinsuo, Ziwei gives Xiaoyanzi her mother's fan and painting, both gifts from the emperor, and sends Xiaoyanzi as her messenger. Xiaoyanzi successfully reaches the hunting grounds but is seriously wounded with an arrow by Yongqi, Qianlong Emperor's 5th son, during the hunt. Qianlong Emperor recognizes her items and mistakes the unconscious Xiaoyanzi for his and Xia Yuhe's daughter. Once Xiaoyanzi wakes up and recovers, she is given the title "Princess Huanzhu" ("Princess Returning Pearl"). Attempts to reveal the truth go unsuccessfully, and she also realizes that she may be charged with deceiving the emperor — an automatic death sentence — if the truth comes out.
One day, Ziwei sees Xiaoyanzi parading the streets in a sedan chair as a princess and believes Xiaoyanzi has deceived her. She chases after the sedan chair, causing a commotion, and gets beaten by soldiers. Fu Erkang, one of the emperor's bodyguards, rescues her and learns of her story. Afterwards, Ziwei and Jinsuo begin to live at the Fu household as Erkang and Ziwei gradually begin to fall in love.
Meanwhile, Yongqi, Fu Erkang and his brother Fu Ertai sneak Xiaoyanzi out of the Forbidden City to reunite her with Ziwei, who kindly forgives her. Not wanting to risk Xiaoyanzi's life, Ziwei is willing to keep the secret and give up her claims to be princess. However, as Erkang is the son of minister Fu Lun, they cannot marry as long as she is only a commoner. The gang decide the best way to reveal the secret to the emperor is to bring Ziwei and Jinsuo into the Forbidden City as imperial maids. In the palaces, Ziwei quickly attracts the emperor's attention with her talents, intelligence, and compassion. This arouses the jealousy of the empress, who secretly has her stabbed with needles at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. Ziwei nearly dies but is rescued by her friends. Qianlong Emperor becomes more impressed with Ziwei after this incident, and decides to take her as well as Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi on a private trip outside of Beijing, dressed as civilians.
During the trip, feelings between Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, who is aware that she is not his sister, begin to rise. The trip is abruptly ended when a group of Dacheng Jiao sect members try to assassinate the emperor. Ziwei bravely shields the emperor from a knife before the assassins are all obliterated. Ziwei miraculously survives the stabbing, and the emperor decides to marry Ziwei as his concubine.
Meanwhile, Princess Saiya from Tibet has arrived in Beijing. She develops a crush on Erkang, and Qianlong Emperor decides to approve their marriage. As Ziwei and Erkang are deeply in love by this point, the gang decide to finally reveal Ziwei's secret. The emperor is shocked by the possibility that the girl he wanted to marry is in fact his daughter, and particularly angry that Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei, two girls he trust the most, have tricked him. Xiaoyanzi, Ziwei and Jinsuo are all imprisoned at the Imperial Clan Court to await interrogations.
On orders of the empress, Liang Tinggui, the man in charge of the Imperial Clan Court, tries to force the girls to sign a statement that their intentions were to murder the emperor. When they refuse, the trio are whipped harshly. Knowing that the three cannot survive long in such conditions, Yongqi, Erkang, Ertai and the Liu siblings risk their lives and break into the jail to free the girls. At the same time, Qianlong Emperor realizes how much he loves Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei and decides to release them, but is furious after discovering that they had already escaped.
After briefly on the run, the friends decide to return to the Forbidden City. Despite his original intention to behead them all, Qianlong Emperor is heartbroken to learn that the three girls were tortured in prison. He forgives all of them, beheads Liang Tinggui, and accepts both Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi as his daughters. He also orders the empress to be punished but relents after Ziwei pleads mercy on her behalf.
The last obstacle, the marriage proposal between Saiya and Erkang, is solved when Ertai courts Saiya and successfully wins her heart. The story concludes with a ceremony, during which Ziwei is proclaimed "Princess Mingzhu" ("Princess Bright Pearl"), and Qianlong Emperor announcing the engagements between Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, Ziwei and Erkang, and Ertai and Saiya.
Season 2 (1999)
In the year 1760, the Uyghur leader Ali Khoja sent his daughter Hanxiang to become a concubine for the Qianlong Emperor. Hanxiang was born with a natural scent that attracts butterflies. She has long loved another man, Mengdan, whom she had unsuccessfully eloped with several times.
Xiaoyanzi, Ziwei, Yongqi, and Erkang meet Mengdan at the restaurant and hotel recently opened by Liu Qing and Liu Hong. There, they learned of the love story of Mengdan and Hanxiang. Ultimately, they decide to help Hanxiang escape the Forbidden City and escape with Mengdan.
With the empress dowager returning to the palace, the empress and Wet-Nurse Rong plot against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei, creating tension between Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei and the empress dowager by continuously pointing out the imperfections of the two girls. The empress dowager, being extremely traditional, takes an immediate disliking to Xiaoyanzi's lack of education and proper manners, while being extremely suspicious and dislikes to acknowledge Ziwei's status as her grand daughter as it is unclear if she is actually Qianlong's illegitimate child. Ziwei also had a near death experience at the torture of empress dowager after being accused of plotting to kill Qianlong after the empress had a voodoo doll planted in her bedroom. Qing'er, Qianlong's niece and a favorite companion of empress dowager, ultimately figures out the doll could not have been made by Ziwei or Xiaoyanzi. Xiaoyanzi also temporarily escapes the palace where she is kept as a slave in a chess shop because she could not take the rigid rules and Yongqi repeatedly emphasizing the need to be more educated. She mistakes his good intentions as him being ashamed of her when he has all along loved her for who she is. Yongqi does this at the insistence of Qianlong as empress dowager has repeatedly threatened to end both Yongqi's and Erkang's respective engagement as she believed that Xiaoyanzi is not good enough to be Yongqi's wife and that Erkang is better paired with her favorite Qing'er, who is without doubt of royal descent. After Xiaoyanzi's return, Yongqi and the others plead to empress dowager to accept Xiaoyanzi for who she is and to not force the rigid rules on her for she can never meet the empress dowager's expectations for she is not a real Princess. The empress dowager has no choice but to accept their engagement after Yongqi and Erkang both reveal that they would rather live as a commoner with Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei than remain as a Prince and a royal imperial guard.
Qing'er serves as a rival love interest between Erkang and Ziwei at empress dowager's insistence but despite Qing'er's actual feelings for Erkang, she does not want to get involved between Erkang and Ziwei after realizing that he would never be able to love her as well. She becomes good friends with Ziwei and ultimately helps Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi out of trouble when the empress dowager is furious at them for their various actions that does not meet in accordance with proper lady like manners.
After several attempts to resist Qianlong who was trying to force himself on her, Hanxiang accidentally cuts Emperor Qianlong's arm. When the empress dowager finds out about this, she secretly forces Hanxiang to drink poison as punishment. Xiaoyanzi, Yongqi, Ziwei, Jinsuo, and Erkang rush back but were not able to make it in time. Hanxiang is said to have died. Before she "dies", the aroma emitting from her body strengthens and tens of hundreds of butterflies fly to her side and circle the room. They leave and so does the aroma. In the end, Hanxiang is saved by the repeated attempts from Xiaoyanzi. She is ultimately saved by eating the life-saving medicine that her father gave her, in the case of an emergency. After this affair, Hanxiang loses her scent.
After Hanxiang's escape, the group lies to Qianlong that Hanxiang had turned into a butterfly and flew away. As a result of Wet-Nurse Rong and the empress plotting against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei, they are subjected to torture at the hands of empress dowager and ultimately renounces Ziwei's identity as a Princess because of the empress paying off her aunt and uncle to create a story to deny her birthday, making it incompatible with the year Qianlong supposedly met Ziwei's mother. When Qianlong finds out the truth, he sends the five to jail. Yongqi escapes after pretends that he is sick. Qianlong later sentences Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei to death. Jinsuo sent to other country as a forced labor, while Erkang imprisoned for 15 years and his titles annulled. However, they eventually escape with help from their friends, especially Qing'er and Consort Ling. They decide to leave the Forbidden City permanently and travel to Dali. They are temporarily reunited with Mengdan and Hanxiang and witness their marital union before ultimately traveling to Dali separately. This is the last time these two characters appear in the series.
On the trip, they encounter many incidences where they lend a hand to save the weak such as stepping in to prevent the burning at the stake of a local girl who was impregnated out of wedlock and saved her life. On the road they encounter Qianlong's men who were intent on capturing them alive and to not hurt them at Qianlong's orders. Xiaoyanzi and Jinsuo were captured and taken away separately while Ziwei falls out of the carriage and temporarily loses her eyesight. Xiao Jian and Yongqi rescue Xiaoyanzi and are horrified to find a reclusive, terrified, and blind Ziwei while keeping the emotionally strained Erkang at arms length after being afraid of becoming a permanent burden to him. At Erkang's insistence and reassurance, Ziwei finally accepts the reality that she may be permanently blind and that she can still live a fulfilling life with him by her side. The five of them travel together to the next city while leaving behind markers for Liu Qing, Liu Hong, and Jinsuo as they search for doctors able to cure Ziwei's blindness. Erkang leaves Ziwei in the care of Xiaoyanzi temporarily as he goes on to ask for directions to the next doctor, Xiaoyanzi becomes preoccupied with a game of Chess going on at a nearby table in the middle of the street and completely forgets about the blind Ziwei. As a result, Ziwei is taken by a local thug and is sold to a local brothel while a frantic Erkang and a deeply repentant Xiaoyanzi search the streets. Ziwei is ultimately found with the help of Xiao Jian's connections in the city and was able to save herself with the threat of suicide as Erkang saves her just in time. Erkang forgives Xiaoyanzi at Ziwei's insistence and they are finally reunited with Jinsuo, Liu Qing and Liu Hong. Liu Qing and Liu Hong had traveled to rescue Jinsuo and ultimately hide in a rural village where Jinsuo was to recover from her injuries. Jinsuo and Liu Qing fall in love as he takes care of her and are later married after being reunited with the group.
Throughout this time, Qianlong realizes that he truly misses the presence of Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei and he reveals to Consort Ling that him sentencing them to death was ultimately out of pure rage and that in the end, Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei would indeed ultimately be spared had Erkang and Yongqi not rescued them. The group continues to run for their life as they mistake Qianlong's men as assassins when they were really sent on the orders of the empress. Erkang and Yongqi are hurt and Ziwei miraculously recovers her sight after being terrified at Erkang's near-death experience. Qianlong is horrified as he receives reports of Erkang and Yongqi getting hurt in the subsequent fights and Ziwei's blindness and finally sends Fulun to contact them as Erkang would ultimately listen to his father and believe that Qianlong has finally forgiven them and would like their safe return.
Along the way, they discover that the mysterious guy they met at Liu Qing and Liu Hong's restaurant who has helped them throughout this whole fugitive stage, Xiao Jian, is actually Xiaoyanzi's long lost brother after Yongqi's jealousy at his kindness to Xiaoyanzi becomes too overbearing as he mistakes it as him trying to steal Xiaoyanzi away. Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi had repeatedly argued throughout this time as Xiaoyanzi firmly believes that Yongqi was still hung up on being a Prince and could not accept her commoner ways while Yongqi would disagree with her actions and decisions. It is later revealed to Erkang that the reason Xiaoyanzi is an orphan is because of Qianlong. Xiaoyanzi's father was rallying against the government and later their whole family was sentenced to death as a result. In order to save Xiao Jian and Xiaoyanzi, they were sent away separately. Xiao Jian ultimately decides against revealing the truth to Xiaoyanzi and to give up the act of revenge at Erkang's insistence to preserve Xiaoyanzi's upbeat happiness, and to have Qianlong continue to love and adore her as his own daughter for she has always desired the love of a father.
After Fulun finds the group, they believe that Qianlong has forgiven them but unanimously decide to not return as their feelings towards Qianlong and the Forbidden City have changed. They desire the carefree life of commoners without the rigid rules and chaos that surrounded their life while living in the Forbidden City where Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei were particularly susceptible to punishment. In the end, the Emperor travels himself to convince them to return to the Forbidden City as he does not care if they helped Hanxiang escape, or if Ziwei is actually his daughter. There, he awards both Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi with a gold insignia. Each one can excuse them from 3 executions. The empress dowager ultimately forgives Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi at the insistence of Qianlong and acknowledges them as her granddaughters. Qianlong and the empress dowager later discover the empress had been plotting against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei sending assassins to kill them along with Erkang and Yongqi disguising it as the command of Qianlong. Qianlong is furious and commands both the empress and her maidservant, Wet-Nurse Rong, to be beheaded. However, Ziwei pulls out her gold insignia and uses up two pardons: one for Wet-Nurse Rong and one for the empress.
Because of this affair, Wet-Nurse Rong and the empress both grow appreciative of Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi. Afterwards, Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, along with Ziwei and Erkang, are finally married.
|1.||"當" (Dāng, "When")||Chuang Li-fan, Kuo Wen-tsung||Power Station||04:47|
|2.||"雨蝶" (Yǔ dié, "Rain Butterfly")||Phil Chang||Lee E-jun||03:50|
|3.||"今天天氣好晴朗" (Jīntiān tiānqì hǎo qínglǎng, "Today's Weather is So Sunny")||Xu Jingxin||Fang Qiong||01:53|
|4.||"山水迢迢" (Shānshuǐ tiáotiáo, "Distance Between Mountains and Waters")||Xu Jingxin||Fang Qiong||03:00|
|5.||"長相憶" (Chángxiàng yì, "Deep Longing")||Xu Jingxin||Fang Qiong||03:02|
|6.||"自從有了你" (Zìcóng yǒu le nǐ, "Ever Since I Had You")||Chiung Yao||Tso Hung-yuen, Lu Cheng-huang||Zhao Wei||03:26|
|7.||"有一個姑娘" (Yǒu yī gè gūniang, "There Is a Girl")||Chiung Yao||Lee Cheng-fan||Zhao Wei||03:33|
|8.||"不能和你分手" (Bùnéng hé nǐ fēnshǒu, "Can't Break Up with You")||Chiung Yao||Tso Hung-yuen, Lu Cheng-huang||Zhao Wei||04:34|
|9.||"我們" (Wǒmen, "Us")||Chiung Yao||Lu Cheng-huang||Zhao Wei||04:00|
|10.||"你是風兒我是沙" (Nǐ shì fēng er wǒ shì shā, "You're Wind, I'm Sand")||Chiung Yao||Lu Cheng-huang||Ruby Lin, Zhou Jie||04:42|
|11.||"夢裡" (Mèng li, "In Dreams")||Chiung Yao||Lee Cheng-fan||Ruby Lin, Zhou Jie||04:52|
The first 5 tracks are from Season 1.
All lyrics were written by Chiung Yao, although Hsu Chang-te helped with the lyrics of Track 2. The lyrics for tracks 1 and 8 are the same and based on a few lines in a Han dynastyyuefu love poem, the content of which was featured prominently in Ziwei and Erkang's romance (translation by Ma Xiaodong):
|山無陵||Till mountains are leveled to the ground,|
|江水為竭||Rivers dry up,|
|冬雷震震||Thunder reverberates in winter,|
|夏雨雪||Snow falls in summer,|
|天地合||The sky and the earth become one,|
|乃敢與君絕||Only then will I dare part with you!|
Ruby Lin had also covered Track 2 in a recording.
Track 7 by Zhao Wei won bronze prize for "Outstanding Mandarin Song" at the 1999 RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards. Tracks 6, 7 and 8 were also included in Zhao's debut album Swallow (1999).
Most songs were covered in Vietnamese. Yến Khoa had an entire cover album Hoàng Châu Cát Cát (2001), which includes "Tình Hồng Như Mơ" (cover of Track 8), "Khi Có Em Trong Đời" (cover of Track 6), "Em Như Nụ Hồng" (cover of Track 7), "Phiêu Du Giữa Đời" (cover of Track 9) and "Gió Cuốn Bụi Bay" (cover of Track 10). Other Vietnamese covers include Đan Trường's "Hoài Niệm Cũ" (cover of Track 1), Đan Trường & Cẩm Ly's "Tình Hồng Như Mơ" (cover of Track 11), Tú Quyên's "Trong Em Tình Vẫn Sáng" (cover of Track 2), and Hoàng Châu's "Đời Em Là Cánh Bướm" (also cover of Track 2).
Taiwan's China Television (CTV), which had a prior agreement with Chiung Yao's company, was the first channel to broadcast Season 1 from 28 April to 29 May 1998. Average rating was very high at 12.1%, with the highest rating reaching 17%, prompting CTV to rerun it immediately afterwards on 1 June, which again "easily" topped the ratings charts. Zhao Wei, who went back to study at the Beijing Film Academy, remembered the first sign that her life might change was receiving "rooms upon rooms" of fan mails from Taiwan in her school dormitory. (After it was later broadcast in mainland China, Zhao would receive in total over 100,000 letters, sometimes 1,000 in a day.) On 18 March 1999, CTV broadcast Season 1 the third time in less than a year, and again it "unbelievably" topped the ratings at 5.6%. Season 1 brought NT$70 million to the station. The much longer Season 2 was then broadcast right afterwards from 21 April to 25 June 1999 and reran immediately, continuing the "My Fair Princess" fever nonstop from March until 13 December 1999. Average ratings for Season 2 was 13.68%, the highest ratings in Taiwan since 1996 and not surpassed by all future series.
In Mainland China, HBS initially had problems selling its broadcasting rights. Some stations had doubts on whether it would be successful since it was too different from the typical Chiung Yao tearjerkers. When it was finally broadcast first on Beijing Television (BTV) in the Beijing area, average audience share was 44%. On HBS's own Hunan Television (HNTV) in Hunan it reached 54%. After it was rerun 2 months later, ratings were still No. 1 at 26.7%. Season 2, first broadcast in June 1999 just like in Taiwan, averaged more than 50% across the board, reaching as high as 65% on HNTV. These numbers have never been challenged since. Commercial returns were immense; copyrights in Mainland China were sold for ¥390,000/episode for Season 1 and ¥545,000/episode for Season 2. BTV earned over ¥ 25 million from Season 2 commercials, whereas Shanghai Television (SHTV), with average ratings of 55% in Shanghai for Season 2, made over ¥ 40 million. (In comparison, all actors made less than ¥2,000/episode for Season 1.) Even in the 2010s, reruns on HNTV would still finish at the top of national ratings.
In Hong Kong, Asia Television (ATV) relied on the series to beat rival TVB in prime time for the first time in history, with 58% of the audience share for the Season 2 finale in 1999.
In Mongolia, ratings were so high that distributors showed the last 3 episodes of Season 1 in movie theaters.
In South Korea, it became an unexpected hit on the small Gyeongin Television, achieving 4% at the Seoul National Capital Area according to Nielsen Korea. Many Korean fans started to study Chinese.
The series was also highly popular in many Southeast Asia countries. Zhao Wei and Ruby Lin went to Ho Chi Minh City together in February 2001 where they visited an SOS Children's Village and sang at the "Xuân 2001" ("Spring 2001") concert. Hounded by enthusiastic fans everywhere, they were stranded in the hotel and had to give up shopping plans.
Awards and nominations
Zhao Wei was at the time the youngest Best Actress winner in Golden Eagle Awards history.
The series was blamed for many unfortunate incidents ranging from multiple television set explosions (due to overuse) to at least 6 accidental deaths of Chinese children trying to imitate Xiaoyanzi's fake hanging suicide attempt. In March 1999, a young girl left home intending to go to Zhao Wei's hometown Wuhu to meet "Xiaoyanzi", worrying her parents to death. Some people called for "responsible media" to report more negative news on Zhao, in order to curb the out-of-control celebrity worship syndrome epidemic. Many parents and teachers were also concerned with the characterization of Xiaoyanzi, finding the character without education, moderation, discipline and manners, and a bad influence on children. In September 1999, a man sued Chiung Yao, Hunan Television, Hunan Broadcasting System and his local Zhejiang Television for ¥80 million for what he believed mental anguish to his family from watching the drama, calling Xiaoyanzi a "psychiatric patient" who had caused "extremely serious consequences" to "countless minors" who "liked, worshiped, studied and imitated" her, demanding an immediate halt on everything related to the show, including merchandise. Though the case was not accepted, his opinion was echoed by Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member Wei Minglun (魏明伦), who in 2002 proposed measures to prevent "rogue" characters like Xiaoyanzi from being idolized by the younger generation.
Also under attack was the drama's completely inaccurate portrayal of the Qing dynasty history. In 2000, Qianlong Emperor's 7th-generation descendant Yu Ziwei (毓紫薇) published a letter to Chiung Yao criticizing the story as irresponsible to the Aisin Gioro clan, also claiming that the drama significantly disturbed her life because of her given name "Ziwei" being identical to that of Xia Ziwei. Similar opinions were publicly voiced by at least one other Aisin Gioro descendant, Puyang (溥杨).
Premier year refers to Season 1.
After a year of work, the English version of Season 1 has been fully dubbed at the Bang Zoom! Entertainment studio under director Wendee Lee in 2013. It is scheduled to be released by Rock Motion Picture Voice-Over Distribution Company. Xiaoyanzi ("Swallow") was translated as "Sparrow" while Ziwei ("Myrtle") was translated as "Rose".
My Fair Princess III (2003)
Further information: My Fair Princess III
While the first two seasons featured almost the same cast, most cast members declined the offer to star in another sequel. The Season 3 script was also delayed for a year because of Chiung Yao's personal matters. When it was finally ready, almost 4 years later, Zhao, Lin and Su (who had shot another Chiung Yao series together in Romance in the Rain) were in the process of filming other projects and could not participate. Zhou Jie was the only returning main actor.
New My Fair Princess (2011)
Further information: New My Fair Princess
A 98-episode remake of the first series was filmed in June 2010, and aired in 2011. Akin to the old version, the remake had 3 parts, but had more comedic elements than the original. After airing in China, both critics and audiences have expressed disappointments with the casting and the script.
The viewership was also much lower compared to the old version. Ratings for the remake version was 1.5% in mainland china, which was average for a Hunan Television show. In Taiwan, the rating was 0.7%, not only ranking last, but also the worst rating of a Chiung Yao television series in decades.
Vietnamese cải lương series
In Vietnam, Season 1 was adapted into a 20-episode 2002 cải lương series titled Hoàng Châu Các Các, starring Phương Mai and Vũ Linh.
- Phượng Mai as Phụng Tử Uyên (based on Xia Ziwei)
- Vũ Linh as Vĩ Lâm (based on Fu Erkang)
- Kim Tử Long as Vĩnh Kỳ (Yongqi)
- Ngọc Huyền as Tiểu Mỹ Nữ (based on Xiaoyanzi)
- Thanh Tòng as King Thanh (based on Qianlong Emperor)
- Thanh Hằng as the empress
- Hồng Nga as the wet nurse (based on Wet Nurse Rong)
- Vân Hà as Xuyên Hỉ (based on Jinsuo)
- Ngân Tuấn as Vĩ Tú (based on Fu Ertai)
- Kim Thoa as Consort Huệ (based on Consort Ling)
- Trinh Trinh as Princess Tái Á (Princess Saiya)
Season 1 was adapted into a Cantonese opera titled Waan Jyu Gaak Gaak Bei Hei Cung Fung (還珠格格悲喜重逢), with Ye Youqi portraying Xiaoyanzi (Siu-yin-ji) and Jiang Wenduan portraying Xia Ziwei (Ha Ji-mei). The VCD was released in 2004.
Because of its high recognizably, relatively exaggerated acting and cheesy dialogues, the drama had become a favourite for parodies in the Chinese-speaking cyberworld. One online group named Xudu Bar (胥渡吧) became famous for periodically releasing videos where they dubbed scenes from the series. As a result of their videos, the character Wet-Nurse Rong in particular became an Internet meme. In 2014, during the 5th series of the reality competition China's Got Talent, 5 members of Xudu Bar dubbed their videos live before judges Zhao Wei, Alec Su and others.
Other notable parodies include:
- A 2000 Hong Kong Category III film Princess Princess (還枝格格, Cantonese: 'Waan Zi Gaak Gaak) starring Jimmy Wong Shu-kei and Lily Chung, was a pornographic parody film.
- In 2007, German company Mez-Technik dubbed a clip from Season 2 in Swabian German for their ad.
- In 2013, Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter stopped by Bang Zoom! Entertainment for satirical dubbing on some scenes of Season 1, the result of which was aired on Conan.
- In January 2014, a Vietnamese parody titled Chầu Hoan Cua Chống was released on YouTube. It had generated 6 million views.
- In January 2015, a 30-episode Chinese parody film series titled Princess Huanzhu 2015 (还珠格格2015) released the first episode on LeTV.com.
- Gongzhufen - the place that inspired the story.
- Old House Has Joy - a 1998 TV series starring Zhao and Su.
- Romance in the Rain - a 2001 Chiung Yao-created TV series starring Zhao, Lin, Su (with Leo Ku). Wang Yan also made a cameo.
- ^The third member of Xiao Hu Dui, Nicky Wu was considered for the role of Fu Erkang, but he had to serve in the ROC military.
- ^Before My Fair Princess, Dai Chunrong only acted in 1 TV series, The Flying Swallow of the Han Palace (漢宮飛燕), where she also portrayed an empress married to and ignored by Zhang Tielin's emperor. Because of that experience, Zhang recommended her to the My Fair Princess producers. Interestingly, she and Zhang would later become known as "the empress specialist" and "the emperor specialist" respectively for frequently appearing as these characters on Chinese television.
- ^Season 1 had 24 episodes. Fan Bingbing, for example, made ¥1,000 per episode.
- ^In East Asian age reckoning, 18 years old is closer to 16 or 17 in the Western age reckoning.