NOW it can be told: Snow White was originally a blond. So says Adriana Caselotti, who should know about such things. In 1935, at age 19, Caselotti provided the voice for the fairy tale character in Walt Disney's classic, the first full-length animated film.
"She was a little blond girl in the original story boards," Caselotti says. "And then after Walt Disney saw me, they changed her hair color and hair style."
Buena Vista, Disney's distributing company, is sending Caselotti on a nationwide publicity tour to talk about her part in the movie. At 67, she is almost as animated as the character she played.
"Snow White" has been rereleased six times; this is Caselotti's fourth such tour. The company rereleases its classic films once every seven years. "That way we hit a whole new generation each time we send it out again," says the Buena Vista publicist who is accompanying Caselotti on the tour. The publicist adds that when "Snow White" was first released, more people saw it than have seen "Star Wars," and that the movie has subsequently been dubbed into 13 languages.
"They were going to use me for the Italian version also," Caselotti says. "But Mussolini wouldn't allow it. He wanted an Italian citizen.
"I felt that I was Snow White. Even at my age, I still think I'm Snow White," Caselotti says, sounding as childlike as she did in the movie. "I was a young 19-year-old. Some girls at 19 are very sophisticated. But I was very new at life.
"I used to emulate the little cute kid voices--my voice had Betty Boop qualities," Caselotti says, her voice ascending into a stratospheric squeegee squeal. "So I really felt like the 14-year-old girl Disney wanted for the part. And I had some operatic training, which he wanted."
Caselotti's father, the late opera coach Guido Caselotti, received a call from Disney, who said he was looking for a young voice to play Snow White in the animated feature. "I was listening on the upstairs extension," Caselotti says. "I lifted the phone accidentally. And I said to my father, 'What about me?' "
The rest of the family was musical as well. Caselotti's mother, Maria, was prima donna with the Royal Opera House of Rome, and her sister Louise became Maria Callas' singing coach. Guido taught the family at home.
Caselotti became the first of 150 young women tested for the role. Disney sat behind a screen as they spoke and sang. Among those auditioning was a starlet named Deanna Durbin. "When Disney heard her, he said, 'That's a 30-year-old woman you're bringing me.' " (She was 11.)
Disney chose Caselotti, and she received $20 a day for her work, which she says added up to $970 over three years. She received no residuals from the many successful rereleases, and her movie career began and ended with "Snow White." Although she continued her vocal training, no offers came her way and she says she was "too shy to go and get it myself." Caselotti can still do her Snow White voice and can produce a host of little-girl and animal voices. She says she hopes someone asks her to do voices for television commercials.
Since the picture, Caselotti has married twice and designed three houses, and now lives in Los Angeles in her third house, a Hawaiian-influenced structure with a large wishing well on the front lawn. "Just a little touch of Snow White," she says.
And can Caselotti pass the Snow White acid test?
"Let's see: Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey, Bashful, Doc, Happy . . ."
"I always forget one of them." CAPTION: Pictures 1 and 2, In 1935 Adriana Caselotti was chosen as the voice of Walt Disney Productions' Snow White. Copyright (c) 1937 & 1983, Walt Disney Productions