When it is said that ever since its premiere Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has lived happily ever after, that’s no fairy tale. Upon its initial release, Walt’s animated feature became the most popular film ever made—and even when Gone With the Wind overtook it at the box office in 1940, the story of the princess and her seven lovable friends continued to mine box office gold in its many theatrical re-releases throughout the decades. In fact, taking into account the reissues and the record-smashing sales on videocassette, DVD, and its most recent reappearance as a Diamond Edition Blu-ray in 2009, Snow White is widely considered to be the most viewed film ever made. The fairest of all the re-releases was for the film’s 50th anniversary in 1987, when Walt’s masterpiece was released to theatres for, appropriately, the seventh time.
Snow White reigned anew in nearly 4000 movie theatres in more than 60 countries worldwide in 10 languages to an audience of more than a half a billion people, smashing all industry records, and making it, as Disney reported, “a box office champion [that] exceeded our wildest expectations.” As part of the Golden Anniversary celebration, Snow White was honored at the Smithsonian Institution, the Rose Parade, and the Super Bowl, and even on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The City Council of Los Angeles and Mayor Tom Bradley passed a resolution honoring Snow White, while the United States Congress officially declared the week of July 13, 1987 to be “Snow White Week,” honoring the film as “a milestone in motion picture history… delighting the hearts of people of all ages throughout the world for the past 50 years.”
Aside from being cherished by generations, this silver screen sensation has continuously influenced creators from Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg to the Beatles. Its enshrinement as a national treasure was made official when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was among the first 25 “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” films added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1989.
Whatever its honors past, present or future, Snow White ultimately stands as a tribute to the man who led a team of 750 artists in the creation of this moving work of art. “I don’t think any other picture ever had as much of Walt in it, in terms of creativity,” said Woolie Reitherman. “The atmosphere in the studio was alive with creativity, a marriage of many minds and talents. We fabricated whole characters from thin air. We made life happen in cartoon form. From our imagination we created frame-by-frame spontaneity.”
Clearly, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs remains, and always will be, the Fairest One of All.
The House Snow White Built | The Snow White Reunion | Snow White on Stage | A Smile and a Song | Who’s the Fairest Star of All? | Snow White at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom |
Now Don’t Tell Me Who You Are—Let Me Guess | Happily Ever After
Unveiled at a star-studded world premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been holding audiences spellbound with its enthralling characters, unforgettable music and timelessly artful animation. Through 75 years of fairy-tale magic, this motion-picture masterpiece has inspired all sorts of honors, commemorations, and merriments. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art adding Snow White cels to its collection in 1938 and the Magic Mirror “hosting” One Hour in Wonderland, Disney’s very first television special, in 1950, to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train scheduled to open at the New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in 2014, Walt’s original princess is never far from the heart of Disney.
By D23: The Official Disney Fan Club’s Jim Fanning