It’s 1801 in Odense, Denmark. Young Hans Christian Andersen (Paul O’Keefe) – known as Chris – lives with his father, Papa Andersen (Jack Gilford), a poor cobbler, in a town populated by such eccentric characters as The Pieman (Ray Bolger) and grouchy old Mrs Klopplebobbler (Margaret Hamilton).
Papa Andersen gets little respect from his customers and wants young Chris to gain knowledge to grow up to be more than just a poor, abused cobbler, telling him in the process that all knowledge can be found in the legendary Garden of Paradise.
With The Sandman (Cyril Ritchard) as his guide, Chris sets off to find the Garden of Paradise.
Each time he falls asleep he experiences in his dreams the different characters he would later write about including The Little Mermaid (voiced by Hayley Mills), Thumbelina (voiced by Patty Duke) and The Ugly Duckling.
Other characters encountered by Chris on his journeys include Father Neptune (Burl Ives), The Sea Witch (Tallulah Bankhead), a pair of crooked tailors (Terry-Thomas and Victor Borge) who dupe The Emperor (Ed Wynn), a Sneaky Rat (Boris Karloff) and a Miserly Mole (Sessue Hayakawa).
This live-action/animation hybrid was filmed on-location at the site of the New York World’s Fair.
Chris (Hans Christian Andersen)
The Sea Witch (voice)
The Little Mermaid (voice)
Father Neptune (voice)
Sneaky Rat (voice)
Miserly Mole (voice)
The Sandman (voice)
Brigadier Zachary Zilch (The First Tailor) (voice)
Zenith (The Second Tailor) (voice)
The Emperor (voice)