Friday, 21 December 2012

75 YEARS OF SNOW

A few weeks ago, I blogged a review of a couple of new books published to mark the 75th anniversary of the release of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs...


Today, seventy-five years on from the film's premiere at Hollywood's Carthay Circle Cinema, I want to pay tribute to Adriana Caselotti (1916-1997), the woman who lent her speaking and singing voice to the film's heroine...

Rather than retell her story, I am going to let you hear it from the lady herself in an archive recording of a  long-distance, virtual-interview which I conducted in June 1987 while researching for the book Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Making of the Classic Film which I wrote in collaboration with Richard Holliss to mark Miss White's 50th birthday.

I mailed my questions to Adriana and she answered them onto tape. The quality isn't great: it was recorded in a very echoey acoustic and there are one or two amusing stops and starts (and a few inaccurate answers!) but it gives a good idea of what a fascinating person she was.

As you will quickly deduce, she was something of an eccentric, but she was – once you became acclimatised to the near-exhausting enthusiasm – an utterly charming and adorable person. I loved her dearly...

Anyway, here's Snow White's adventures as she herself recounted them, aged 71...


Alas, she never did visit England, but I visited Los Angeles and got to meet her in person at her extraordinary Polynesian style home (with an anachronistic wishing well and a Japanese bridge in the garden!). I knew I was in for an experience he answered the door-phone as Snow White, telling Grumpy: 'Brian's at the door!' and singing 'I'm Wishing'!


On the subject of singing, here's another unique recording for you: the seventy-year-old Adriana singing six karaoke numbers that she recorded in November 1986: 'Bésame Mucho', 'Strangers in the Night', 'Harbor Lights', 'Autumn Leaves', Beyond the Reef' (both vocals!) and 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco'. This recording concludes with 'I'm Wishing', from Snow White, recorded (as she explained in the interview above) for the Fantasyland Wishing Well in Disneyland in 1983, when she was age sixty-seven...


I corresponded with Adriana up until the end of her life and made a number of memorable visits to see her, by myself or with dear friends – on various occasions, Richard and Chris, Muir, Michael and Malcolm – all of whom shared my affection for this wonderful character...


Every visit was commemorated with some keepsake of our friendship... 



Finally, here's The Fairest of Them All – a vintage BBC radio feature marking Snow White's 50th anniversary that I wrote and presented on the BBC World Service programme strand, Meridian on 8 December 1987...


And if you're not snowed-up by now, you can read the story of the making of this iconic film on today's post over on my sister blog, Decidedly Disney.

8 comments:

Snow White Archive said...

Pure gold Brian! Adriana's stories plus the karaoke songs...what a treat! Even in her seventies, she still had it. She was Snow White. :)

A perfect post for the 75th anniversary. Thanks much!

Anonymous said...

Brian - I cherish our visit with Ms. Casseloti in 1989. What a wonderful Day!
mg

Brian Sibley said...

Yes, Mike, it was! :)

Gönczi Erika said...

It is an original books from 1938...
Published by Walt Disney.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.246050738828628.40325.245370595563309&type=1

Anonymous said...

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.246050738828628.40325.245370595563309&type=1

From 1938; Published by Walt Disney :)

Dissertation Research said...

Dear Brain Selby,

I was hoping you could help. I have found the clips on this page very insightful. I was wondering if you could tel me how I could listen to a full recording of the interview?
I was also wondering if you could help me identify who this interviewer is, as it may be yourself. I have transcribed part of the intervoew below for a tape that I have. However on the tape there is no mention of who the interviewer is.


Male speaker: "Unforgettable voice provided by Adriana Caselotti, speaking to me here in her last radio interview, shortly before her death."

Adriana Caselotti: My mother was a pre-Madonna of the royal opera house of Rome her name was Maria Caselotti, and my sister Louise Caselotti was Maria Callas's singing teacher. Uh my family um consisted of all, of all opera singers and it was just natural for this little kid to do the same thing. [singing] They really wanted a girl who could, sing very high notes and in a florid manner..."

Thank you for all the help you can give.

Best Wishes,

Ina

Brian Sibley said...

There's a link to the interview on this very post!!! Here it is again for you!

Michael Esposito said...

She bears an uncanny resemblance to my mother in her later photos, except my mother's voice was very deep!