Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snow White on Ice - The Ice Capades

Disney characters have been appearing on ice since the late 1940s starting with the Ice Capades. Founded in Hershey, Pennsylvania by John H. Harris and others, the traveling ice skating show featured theatrical performances from former Olympic and National Champion figure skaters. A wide variety of programs were produced including those "by special arrangement with Walt Disney."

The first Snow White ensemble hit the ice in 1949 with US figure skating champions Donna Atwood and Bobby Specht portraying the princess and prince. These early shows were in the days before Disney theme parks as well as the fine art of character costuming. As a result, the dwarfs were sometimes a little scary-looking.

1949 Program Front Cover

Back Cover

The show returned in 1954 with Atwood and Specht reenacting their roles.

1954 Program: Front Cover

Back Cover

Snow White was not apart of the 1955 Ice Capades lineup, but the show did appear that year in a John Harris produced off-shoot called Ice Cycles. This 1955 program booklet appears identical to the one from '54 (above) except for the name on the cover.

An 8x10 Ice Cycles publicity photo (below) shows Snow White with her forest animal friends. Donna Atwood would retire her skates the following year in 1956.

1955 8x10 via Bah's Sports Photos and Memorabilia.

The Ice Capade costumes made a rare off-ice appearance when they were used in the parade and festivities shown live on television during the grand opening of Disneyland, July 17, 1955. Disneyland's first Snow White, JoAnn Killingsworth, is seen here with the dwarfs in a practice run of the parade.

Image via The Disneyana Collector newsletter (summer 1987). Scan courtesy of TokyoMagic! at Meet the World.
Also see a sharper image at Daveland and another angle at Stuff From The Park.

The Snow White show was brought back again for the 1959 season and starred Helga Neff and Peter Voss as the royal couple.

Promotional Photos.

1959 Program Front and Back Cover

Souvenir pennants...

Blue Wool Ice Capades Pennant (approx. 30" long)

Close-up Red Pennant

Also see the souvenir pins in post below.

The Ice Capades would continue in its popularity up thru the mid-1980s and even into the early 90s, but the heyday of performances featuring Snow White characters would end long before this. There were Disney-themed shows throughout the 1960s and early 70s, but none that centered so exclusively on the Snow White storyline.

In the 60s, it was the Tom Arnold shows throughout the United Kingdom that would bring the Disney Snow White characters back to the ice.


  1. Nice Ice Capades souvenirs! I like the pins too. You just sparked some memories of going to see Disney's World On Ice at the Anaheim Convention Center in the eighties. I'm not sure how large of a part Snow White had in those productions. I will have to go look for my souvenir programs.

  2. Cool Tokyo! Yes, I'd be interested to see what you have.

  3. Just read your most recent post. Yes, Kenneth Feld was the producer of the shows that I saw in the eighties. I know they usually had a theme, but I don't remember seeing one that was entirely about Snow White. I wonder if they did the Snow White one for her 50th anniversary in 1987 (guess I'll find out in your next post!)....I had stopped going to the ice shows by 1987. Still, I'm pretty sure she would have had at least a small part in the shows that I saw, so I will get those programs out and let you know what I find.

  4. There were a couple different Snow White on Ice shows produced by Kenneth Feld for Disney which are coming up in the next few posts. But sounds like you may have programs from some of the other shows (where SW makes an appearance) which I don't have. Hope you find them. :)