On February 4, 1938, Walt Disney released his first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. To honor the release, here are five things you didn't know about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs...
Some Original Dwarf Names Were Super Weird We fondly know that seven dwarfs as Grumpy, Doc, Sleepy, Happy, Dopey, Sneezy, and Bashful. But you may be taken aback by some of the original suggestions for their names. They included, Biggy-Wiggy, Dirty, Hoppy-Jumpy, Shifty, and Nifty. If those suggestions weren’t crazy enough, others even included Awful (a dwarf who’s drinks, and steals), Lazy, Flabby, Thrifty, Stubby, and Wheezy. And Dopey was almost named Deafy! Animators were originally opposed to the name Dopey, but Walt Disney was able to convince his team on the name after he lied to them and told them the word “dopey” was coined by William Shakespeare.
Children Were Terrified by the Movie It may not seem like it now, but Snow White pushed the envelope for its time. Upon the film’s release, Snow White sparked a nationwide controversy about whether or not the enchanted forest and the wicked witch were too scary for young children. In fact, the theater managers at the Radio City Music Hall (where Snow White premiered) were nervous that the movie would be too scary for kids. These fears proved to be well founded. After the the movie’s premiere, the velvet upholstery on the seats had to be replaced. Kids were so frightened by the scene where Snow White gets lost in the forest, that they wet their pants.
Disney Wouldn’t Allow Snow White to Ever Sing Again Disney wanted to find the perfect voice for Snow White. He even turned down actress Deanna Durbin because he thought her voice, at age 14, was too mature. He finally chose Adriana Caselotti, a classically trained singer. However, it would be the only major role she ever performed. Because Walt Disney wanted to preserve the sound of Snow White’s voice, Caselotti’s contract prevented her from ever singing again.
“Dwarfs” In The Movie Title Is Not Misspelled Spelling and grammar perfectionists likely grumble over Disney's spelling of “dwarfs” (as opposed to “dwarves”). But at the time the movie was made, “dwarfs” was the accepted plural spelling of “dwarf.” It was author J.R.R. Tolkien, famous for his novels The Hobbit and the three-volume The Lord of the Rings, who popularized the spelling “dwarves" that we know and use today.
The Film Was Expected To Be A Flop Disney put everything he owned on the line to produce Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, securing multiple loans and taking out a mortgage on his home. Insiders dubed his project "Disney's Folly," and even Lillian, Disney’s wife, believed the movie would bomb. Instead, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs brought in so much money that Disney was able to buy fifty-one acres in Burbank, CA, which he used to build studio facilities that are still in use today.