It was Richard Rodgers who wanted the Fairy Godmother (played by Edie Adams) to be a beautiful young woman, arguing that, since she had magical powers, it made more sense - a concept that met with disagreement among the creative staff until the composer's view prevailed.
The only production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein version to be telecast while Hammerstein was still alive. He died in 1960, five years before the second television production of the musical was telecast, and thirty-six years before the third one was shown.
Julie Andrews says up front in the special commentary on the DVD that it was always the intention of director Ralph Nelson to show as much on-camera magic (for what was a LIVE telecast) during the critical 'transformation' sequence with the Fairy Godmother. This involved a few 'cheats,' including having an assistant just out of camera shot to plop a tiara on her head as the camera shoots her from the floor up already in the glass slippers - but note that she carries her gloves in hand and displays a floor-length satin robe probably just thrown on over her servant dress. The "Impossible" number wraps up with an intended commercial break, which is probably when she changed into the ball gown. When they return from commercial she steps out of the carriage now wearing the gloves and the ball gown is visibly peering from under the robe. A plain fire sparkler was shown in extreme close-up to represent a magic wand.
When 'Cinderella (1957) (TV)' aired on 31 March 1957, it was watched by more than 107 million people. By comparison, if the show had been presented in one of New York's largest theaters, the 3,000 seat City Center, it would have taken 80 years, at eight performances a week, to reach an audience of the same size.
Two ball gowns of completely different designs were worn by Julie Andrews. Early publicity stills of the production (some of which still exist today) show Andrews in a traditional, storybook-like tulle skirt gown. This gown was ultimately never used for the broadcast, dismissed as too big and heavy to utilize through all the live broadcast maneuvers. A simpler, sleeveless white sheath fitted closer to Andrews' body was used instead.