Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Real Snow White

Growing up, Adriana Caselotti didn't know a life without music.

The enchanted little girl and her big sister were educated in an Italian convent, while her famous mother performed opera. When the family moved to Los Angeles years later, her father established himself as a very prominent voice teacher.

One day, in 1934, Adriana's father received a call from a Disney casting director, who was looking for a little girl's singing voice for a "small project."

Although she was already 18, Adriana begged her father to let her audition. She thought it would be fun. Plus, the talented young singer dreamed of a life in showbiz. Living in Hollywood, fame was all around her, all the time, enveloping her with excitement.

Reluctantly, her father allowed her to audition.

When Adriana arrived at the Disney studio, she coyly lied to the casting director, telling him she was much younger. Nobody questioned the bright-eyed brunette. And when she opened her mouth to sing, she wasn't nervous one bit.

But her nerves might have been rattled if she knew that Walt Disney was sitting in his office, listening to the auditions. He wanted to hear the singers, rather than see them. When Adriana's highly trained, high-pitched trills filled the speaker system, he immediately sought out his producers. "That's our Snow White," he told them.

When Adriana was told she received the role, she was absolutely thrilled. When she questioned what the project was about, producers were dismissive. "It's going to be longer than our usual seven-minute long cartoons," they told the attractive girl. She accepted the answer for what it was worth and went skipping home to share the good news with her family.

She had absolutely no idea that she was going to be part of history.

You see, Walt Disney was creating the very first full-length animated feature film cartoon. And not just that, but also the very first Disney Princess.

Adriana went on to spend long, exhausting days in the studio, recording numerous songs and dialogue. She thought it was a little silly they wanted this much audio for a small cartoon, but as a polite, respectful employee, she never questioned them.

In the end, she received $970 (today, around $15,000) for her hard work. She was ecstatic.

When the film was finished and being publicized around the world, Adriana felt a little hurt she had been kept in the dark. She wasn't even invited to the film's premiere! Harry Stockwell, who played the voice of the prince, suggested they sneak into the premiere. So, they did. Hiding up in a balcony, Adriana couldn't believe her eyes when she saw all her favorite movie stars, such as Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland, give her animated persona a standing ovation.

Several months later, when Adriana's identity was exposed, media around the world wanted to feature the beautiful songstress. But, Walt Disney forbid it. He said he didn't want the illusion of Snow White to be spoiled.

Since she was under a Disney contract, Walt went even further to prohibit Adriana from appearing in any films or plays. He essentially destroyed her career, before it could even blossom. All to protect his princess.

Although she was devastated, Adriana did nothing but smile. She was naturally optimistic and could never remain sad for very long. She was always happy, all the time. Just like Snow White.

Eventually, many years later, Walt relented and allowed Adriana to do promotions for Disney. As an adult, she dressed up as Snow White all over the world, performing at radio stations, children's hospitals, and schools. She adored every minute of it.

Even as an elderly woman, whenever Adriana would see someone sad or depressed, she would start singing, "I'm Wishing" and immediately cheer them up.

Unfortunately, in 1997, Adriana died of lung cancer. She left behind no children and several broken marriages.

But her legacy lives on forever, captured in a magical fairytale that always promises a happy ending, even when the real world is falling apart.


Chris said...

Awww (: So sweet. I just love your posts, always so original :)

Kim Alston said...

Wow Jen! I did not know the actress or story behind Snow White. Walt Disney was a "character" in himself!
HaHaHa This post was brilliant! That's why I love your writing and blog. Any other interesting stories behind the other popular fairytales? I love them!

Chloe Moon said...

This is why you can never stop blogging! I had no idea and right now I am so happy I loved Snow White because I'm sure somewhere Adriana is happy to see the lil kids almot 80 years later still dressed up because she did such an amazing job! I can't believe Walt Disney though! What a scoundrel!!!!!! Very interesting and I can't wait for the day that this is a jeopardy question and I can totally say Adriana Casselotti!! =)

Ergo - Blog

ravenlocks said...

Aw....I love Snow White :) That used to be my nickname when I was little because I looked like her. I was pale and had dark curls.

Adriana seemed like a wonderful person. It makes me smile to think that she really was a joyful princes. It's sad that she died due to lung sounds awful.

xo Azu

Rachel Jensen {Da Paura ♥} said...

Wow what an incredible story! This is so funny because I JUST watched Snow White and the Huntsman this week!


Alex said...

She even looks like Snow White. Hot damn. More stories plz?

Bunny Moreno said...

SW is my favorite princess! Love her to bits! I read about her and she led a quiet but long lived life. Thats a blessings unto itself. Two of her marriages ended in her spouse passing-cannot imagine going through that. She seemed like an incredible woman. I wish Disney allowed her to spread her wings and fly. xox

Jenni Summer said...

Now that it's Spring time, Simplify Your Life


Passports & Prada

Shannon said...

Wow - it's insane what Walt did to preserve his princess.

It's funny how much she looks like the animated character too. Was that on purpose?

David Macaulay said...

yup Walt Disney really was a wanker wasn't he? Hey I often fail word verification the first time. Does this mean I am 50 percent robot?

Blond Duck said...

That's SOOOO sad! Disney was such an ass.

French Girl in Seattle said...

Now where on Earth did you dig out that cool story, Jenny? I had never heard of that poor girl, and now I know why. I always had a feeling I would not have like old Uncle Walt had I met him... Great writing, young lady! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

The Dainty Dolls House said...

So sad...what a bastard Walt Disney was!! Brilliant post x

Aditi So-Saree said...

Another beautiful post..m astonished by ur research.

New Post Up

sherene said...

Now i know who the first snow white:)

Couture Carrie said...

What an incredible story!
Beautifully told, as always, darling!


Preity Lama Tamang said...

AWW...thats a great post!! and thankx foe sharing it, definitely got an insight of the snow white..

Mitha Komala said...

whoa i never knew that - the secret behind Snow White. i was truly amazed by the story :")

Letters To Juliet

....... said...

so interesting! thanks for sharing. also thank you so much for your lovely comment on my what's in my bag post! will follow now hope you will stop by again soon and do the same! xx. gigi. food and beauty blogger @

Mouthwash said...

Aawe! How terrible of Walt Disney to do that to her. But I'm glad her singing cheered others up. I know I love that movie. And, how terribly ironic about her death. :(

Cafe Fashionista said...

Oh, I love you for this post, Jennifer! I have never known anything about the 'real' Snow White - but Adriana's life was fascinating {if not incredibly heartbreaking}. :/

A BRIT GREEK said...

I had no idea there even was a real Snow White behind the original inspiration! LOVED this post Jen... Walt was a bit of a cheeky git though...
Have a super weekend!

Oh to Be a Muse said...

I really liked this story. Wasn't too sad. I'm glad that she was finally able to let the world see her talents and that she didn't take it too hard. But my word...Walt is a crazy man!

Izabela Majkut said...

ohh such an interesting post! I love Disney's stories :)

wanna follow each other ? mayone also on the facebook?

Rosh S said...

Lovely post! Somehow how I have never thought about the people behind an animated character. This post sure focuses my attention on them! Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

What a complete shit Walt Disney was.

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