Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26, 1938 - Lux Radio Theater Presents Snow White

Lux Radio Theater. 
Image via OTR Archives.

It was the day after Christmas exactly seventy-two years ago this very night, and how cool it would have been to be in that studio audience! Hosted by Cecil B. DeMille, the Lux Radio Theater presented a live Hollywood performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Not only did some of film's original voice actors return to reprise their roles for the show, but Walt Disney himself was on hand to be interviewed by DeMille for both the intermission and at the end of the broadcast.












Left: Cecil B. DeMille




Here's an excerpt from the second interview where DeMille asks Walt about his secret to success with fairytales:
DeMILLE:In their written form, Walt, fairytales are only for children. But when you bring one to the screen, it captivates everyone. Age, language, race make no difference. What is the secret?
WALT: Well, here is half an answer. Over at our place we’re sure of just one thing -- everybody in the world was once a child. We grow up, our personalities change. But in every one of us, something remains of our childhood. It’s where all of us are simple and naïve without prejudice and bias. We’re friendly and trusting. It just seems to me that if your picture hits that spot in one person, it’s going to hit that same spot in almost everybody. So in planning a new picture we don’t think of grown-ups and we don’t think of children. But just of that fine clean unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our pictures can help recall.

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During my research on this radio broadcast, I received assistance from several different sources. First was Disney Historian Jim Korkis who supplied the names of the performers:

Voice actors from the original film included Roy Atwell (Doc), Billy Gilbert (Sneezy), Moroni  Olsen (Mirror), and Stuart Buchanan (Huntsman). Buchanan also played the voice of Grumpy for this production.

The rest of the radio cast included Thelma Hubbard (Snow White), James Eagles (Prince), Rolfe Sedan (Happy), Jack Smart (Bashful), Lou Merrill (Sleepy), Paula Winslowe (Queen) and Gloria Gordon (Witch). 
Folks like Lou Merrill who did Sleepy were "utility performers" filling in a variety of odd little side voices for a show.  He did a lot of this work for Lux Radio Theater in the early years. Jim Korkis

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Additional information came from Alexander In 1993 the Walt Disney Company was working on a CD-ROM of Disney Characters, a sort of interactive companion to the Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters. Alex was the audio designer and one of several animation art researchers for the CD:
Unfortunately, it was never released. Disney couldn't decide exactly what they wanted and who their market was, so the project was eventually shelved. There was talk at one point of incorporating bits of [this] Lux Snow White program into the CD, hence, my research into the particulars of the show. Alexander

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Finally, the following December 1938 Radio Guide for the week of this broadcast comes from long-time Snow White buff Rick Payne. It featured Dopey on the cover and promoted the Monday airing of the Lux Theater show:


Radio Guide, December 1938 (10 5/8" x 13 5/8"). 
 Images courtesy of Rick Payne via dadric's attic. Used with permission.


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Now come open a window to the past. Sit back and relax as you listen to the entire hour long Snow White Lux Radio Theater performance. Original airdate December 26, 1938. (Audio clip via the Internet Archive.)






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Produced and hosted by film legend Cecil B. DeMille, Lux Radio Theater strove to feature as many of the original stars of the original stage and film productions as possible, usually paying them $5,000 an appearance to do the show. Many of the greatest names in film appeared in the series, most in the roles they made famous on the screen. Source: Wikipedia.

Lux advertisement...

Image via Eliza Karltorp.

Read D23's Greg Ehrbar's recent article on the numerous Lux Radio Theater performances adapted from Disney films.

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