Michael Heath

The Making of Snow White

Text settings

The Fairest One of All: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

J.B. Kaufman

Aurum Press, pp. 320, £

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (or ‘Seven Little Men’, as Walt Disney called them — he didn’t want to ‘disrespect’ dwarfs) first previewed in 1937 at the Carthay Circle Theater in Hollywood. Stars of stage, screen and radio turned up, including Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Marlene Dietrich and Frank Capra. Most were sceptical about an animated feature film lasting more than three minutes, and no one was more worried than Walt. If it failed he would be on skid row. Luckily, the audience went berserk, laughing and crying at the same time. The film was a hit; it even made Chaplin laugh.

The animators who helped bring this fairytale to life had the oddest names: Ham Luske, Art Babbitt, Grim Natwick and U.B. Iwerks. Crazy names, crazy guys. You may remember Sneezy, Bashful and Grumpy, to name three of the dwarfs. But many more were culled: Chesty, Awful and Deafy sadly never made it to the silver screen. The wicked witch, with her poisoned apple, really frightened the audience — which was not surprising given that the artists had been influenced by The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Tod Browning’s Dracula.

Try to see it in the cinema if possible — without people eating, texting and boring into mobiles around you.