She doesn’t live in a palace, and she never married Prince Charming. But Adriana Caselotti, the original voice of Disney’s Snow White, is pretty charming herself. Now 77, she recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly from her home in Southern California about her lone movie role:
Q: What was it like to work on such a groundbreaking picture?
A: I didn’t understand this thing until the opening night. They never let me see any rushes. We started on the film in 1934 when I was 18 and it went on until I was 21. (The studio) would call me in and I was paid $20 a day whenever I worked. In the middle of the production, they ran out of money. They didn’t know if they’d ever be able to continue, and I wasn’t called for a year. Walt had to go to the Bank of America to borrow another $250,000 to finish the film.
Q: It’s amazing how much you still sound like the movie’s Snow White.
A: You know, I live the part. All day long I’m singing the songs. I go around cooking and singing. And (neighborhood) kids come and ask me to do a show for them in front of the wishing well. I have a big wishing well outside of the house.
Q: What was the movie’s premiere like?
A: It was on December 21, 1937, at the Carthay Circle in Los Angeles. I went with Harry Stockwell, who was the voice of the prince. The girl asked us for our tickets. I said, ”I’m Snow White and this is Prince Charming and we don’t need any ticket.” She said, ”I don’t care if you’re the Old Witch, you need tickets to get in here.” We waited until she wasn’t looking and snuck upstairs into the balcony.
Q: What are your memories of Walt Disney during production?
A: He would only say something if we were doing something wrong. But he never would have had me there if I hadn’t been okay, because he was really a perfectionist. To me, he was just about the greatest man artistically. He seemed to understand what was correct in anything that had to do with art, with music. And I feel that he will never die.
Q: How did you feel when the Disney company chose not to use your voice for the animated Snow White who presented a cartoon award during this year’s Oscar telecast?
A: I was terribly hurt by that. This would have been my opportunity to show that at 77 years old, I can still sound exactly the way I did in 1937. I was very unhappy about it, and when I called up the newspapers the next day, boy, I got results. The Los Angeles Times wrote it up. Army Archerd wrote it up in Variety. He said, ”She sounded like Snow to me.” That made me feel so good, you know? But I am not angry at the Disney company about it. I am a very happy person for having been given the opportunity to be the voice of Snow White. I get so much happiness out of it that I live in a cloud. I’ve never come out of it.