Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released on 21 December 1937 by the Walt Disney Company – and immediately revolutionised the world of animation. Iit was the first full-length animated feature film, as well as the brief record-holder for the highest-grossing sound film in the world. Since then it has often been ranked on lists of the greatest American films, and was named the greatest American animated film of all time by the American Film Institute.
To celebrate this iconic film, here are 7 facts about Snow White you might not have known:
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1. The 1937 film has never won an official Academy Award.
Snow White did receive a nomination in 1938, but did not win. In 1939 a Honorary Oscar was awarded to Walt Disney in recognition of the film’s achievement. The specially-designed award featured a normal Oscar statue accompanied by 7 mini statuettes as homage to the Seven Dwarfs.
2. The original fairy tale involves cannibalism.
In the original 1812 fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, the Evil Queen intends to eat Snow White’s organs to gain immortality and orders the Huntsman to kill her. The Huntsman helps Snow White to escape instead, and fools the Evil Queen with a pig’s organ.
Disney’s adaptation of the fairy tale understandably toned this down, and set the trend for kid-friendly versions of childhood classics. Other subsequent Disney Princess movies including Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959) and The Little Mermaid (1989) continued this trend, introducing new generations of children to traditional fairy tales without the gruesome details.
3. The Seven Dwarfs could have had completely different names.
Other potential names included Jumpy, Dizzy, Baldy, Gabby, and Sniffy. But in the end, they were given the names they bear in the film – Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Sleepy, Happy, and Dopey. The Seven Dwarfs (especially Dopey) have become popular characters right alongside Snow White, with their own merchandise and memorabilia available in Disney theme parks worldwide.
4. A prequel was in the works but was eventually cancelled.
The direct-to-video prequel would have covered the backstory of the Seven Dwarfs before they met Snow White, and the story of how the Evil Queen took over the throne. The production was cancelled in 2006.
5. Snow White is the first fictional female character with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Snow White’s star was dedicated on 28 June 1987, 50 years after the film’s release. She was the 3rd animated character to get a star – following Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny – and is still the only Disney Princess with her own star.
6. The 1937 film was one of the first 25 films preserved in the National Film Registry.
In the writeup about its preservation, author and Disney film history J.B. Kaufman describes Snow White’s “rich colour … infectious musical score, [and] absorbing, carefully developed story” as just some of the reasons why it’s remained beloved for so many years.
7. The 1937 film wasn’t the first film adaptation of the fairy tale, but it has been the most successful version.
Earlier adaptations of the Brothers Grimm fairytale include a now-lost 1902 silent film and a 1916 silent film adapted from the Broadway play. Walt Disney was actually inspired by the 1916 version, but his 1937 film has outshone all of its predecessors as the definitive Snow White adaptation of its generation.
The original movie made US$7,846,000 during its original theatrical run and grossed US$418M across its original release and subsequent reissues. Adjusted for inflation, the movie has one of the top lifetime grosses worldwide today – and this does not even include the merchandising sales from subsequent developments like the Disney Princess line.
Maker: Knickerbocker Toy Co. Inc
Year of Make: c. 1937-1949
Material: Fabric and Painted Composition
Country of Origin: United States of America
Following the movie’s premier, many toy and dollmakers jumped on the marketing bandwagon to cash it on the film’s box office success. Snow White Doll was accompanied by 9” dolls of each of the seven dwarfs, and came in 3 different sizes (11”, 15”, and 20”). The 11” doll featured a pink and blue dress whereas the 15” doll (pictured here) wears a brown and yellow dress. The back of her head is marked “Knickerbocker Toy – Walt Disney” – a signal of the decades of Disney merchandising that would soon follow the animation company’s rise to worldwide fame.
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