CINDERELLA is the title of the best-known folktale in history. For almost a thousand years the world has been populated by legends of one kind or another concerning that widely traveled young lady. Though her precise birthplace and birthday are unknown, it is generally believed that the first Cinderella had slant eyes and black hair and was fathered by T'van Ch'engsheh, a storyteller of the previously mentioned and unabashedly licentious T'ang Dynasty of China. Since then we have had Cinderellas in saris in the folklore of India; Cinderellas in beads in the Zuni culture, farm girls who were befriended by turkeys.
In Europe alone there are more than 500 variations on the Cinderella theme. In German she is called Aschenputtel and Aschembrodl. In French she has been known as Cendrillon. In Italian she is Cenerentola. And in all of these stories, in Kaffish, Finnish, Celtic, Portuguese, Cinderella is a poor, unwashed, unloved, unwed little ash girl who is missing out completely on the moonlight and roses of life. Until one enchanted evening, wonder of wonders, with the magical aid of her dead mother, or