The story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a timeless classic. Snow White's beauty causes her stepmother to become jealous. The queen commands her huntsman to kill Snow White, but the huntsman can't. He sends the girl away into the forest. Snow White finds a little cottage and with the help of her animal friends and begins to clean up. Later that evening the Seven Dwarfs come home to find a stranger in their beds. A friendship develops between Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
But the Queen soon learns that Snow White is not dead and plots the princess's demise. One day while the dwarfs are working the Queen, in disguise as an old woman, visits Snow White and gives her a poisoned apple. The animals, upon finding Snow White's lifeless body, race off to find the dwarfs. The dwarfs race to rescue their friend but come too late. With grief in their hearts they build a coffin in the woods and lay the body of Snow White to rest. Then the prince, who had fallen in love with Snow White days earlier, rides in and kisses Snow White. With true love's first kiss, Snow White awakens and rides off with her prince. But the happily-ever-after story took three years to produce and not all of those three years were happy.
On August 9, 1934, 21 pages of notes entitled 'Snow White Suggestions' was compiled by Walt Disney staff member, Richard Creedon.
When the public first learned of Walt's desire to produce a full-length animated film they laughed and called it 'Disney's Folly.' But Walt Disney pressed forward with his staff.
The original idea was to have the film based on the Seven Dwarfs. The names of the little friends, Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful and Dopey, where chosen from a pool of about fifty potentials. This pool included names like Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzy, Nifty and Burpy. By the end of the October meetings, five of the seven dwarfs were named. Sneezy and Dopey replaced Jumpy and an unnamed seventh dwarf.
Although the original plan was to focus on the Dwarfs, that idea was laid aside and it was decided to make Snow White the main focus of the story.
For the rest of 1934 Walt Disney worked on the story line himself.
The project was laid aside for a while and finally in the autumn of 1935 it was picked up again. Many people thought Walt doubted the ability of himself and the studio. But after a trip to Europe he came back refreshed and ready to go at it again. On the 25th of November, 1935, he laid out likely assignments for his staff and decided on the personalities of the dwarfs.
But the work was just beginning. Very few of the artists in the studio had experience with animation. It was a learning process for everyone. Some of the animation was draw from live action shots though most of the artists disliked the idea.
Albert Hurter was the concept artist for the design of the film. Ferdinand Hovarth and Gustaf Tenngren also contributed to the visual art of the film.
The songs in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' were composed by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey. Both men worked for Bourne Co. Music Publishers. The company was hired by Disney since the studio did not have their own music publishing company. The Bourne Co. still holds the rights to the music for the film. Songs still popular today include 'Heigh-Ho', 'Some Day My Prince will Come' and 'Whistle While You Work'.
When 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' was released, a soundtrack was also available. It was the first American film to have a soundtrack.
On December 21, 1937, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles, California. The wildly receptive audience included some of the same people who had called the film 'Disney's Folly'. At the end of the movie the film received a standing ovation from an audience that included Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich.
Following successful, exclusive runs in Radio City Music Hall in New York and a theater in Miami in January 1938, the film was released to the general public by RKO Radio Pictures on February 4.
'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' became a major box office success, making four times more money than any other film released in 1938. In it's original release the film grossed $3.5 million in the United States and Canada. By May of 1939 its total international gross was $6.5 million, making it the most successful film of its time. It was replaced by 'Gone With the Wind' in 1940. By the end of its original run 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' had made $7,846,000.
In 1993, the movie came out on video. It was released as a DVD in 2001. In its lifetime 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' grossed $416 million. This makes it one of the top ten American film moneymakers of all times.
76 years later children still enjoy watching the classic tale of a princess, seven dwarfs and a handsome prince.