The idea to create a Portuguese dub of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs occurred towards the end of February 1938, after executives from RKO Radio Pictures in Brazil and Latin America met with their RKO counterparts from the USA. The meeting took place on the ocean liner SS Normandie (in the waters near Argentina) where they all watched the original English-language version of the movie.
The Portuguese dubbing occurred in May 1938. It was recorded in Rio de Janeiro at the Teatro Cineac Trianon, a building which housed a well-known cinema, a sound studio, and other offices. Space was rented there by Sonofilms which ran the recording sessions. The project was supervised by Jack Cutting of Walt Disney Studios and Wallace Dawing of RKO. (Roy Disney and Stuart Buchanan who oversaw most of the international dubs were not present for this one.)
The voice actors were directed by Brazilian songwriter Carlos Alberto Ferreira de Braga (also known professionally as Braguinha or João de Barro). Years layer in an interview with de Barro's daughter, she would reveal that for those Snow White songs requiring an echo effect, they had to actually record in the building's bathroom because it provided the best acoustics for the sound they were looking for.
The voice talent all spoke with a Brazilian dialect. The English-to-Portuguese dialogues were translated by Alberto Ribeiro and Gilberto Souto. The eight songs were done by the director himself, João de Barro.
- Branca de Neve (Snow White) - Dalva de Oliveira (speaking); Maria Clara Tati Jacome (singing)
- Rainha Má (Evil Queen) - Cordelia Ferreira
- Mendiga (Old Witch) - Estephania Louro
- Principe (Prince) - Carlos Galhardo (speaking & singing)
- Mestre (Doc) - Henrique Foréis Domingues
- Zangado (Grumpy) - Aristoteles Pena
- Feliz (Happy) - Delorges Caminha
- Dengoso (Bashful) - Baptista Junior
- Somneca (Sleepy) - Baptista Junior
- Atchim (Sneezy) - Edmundo Maia
- Espelho Mágico (Magic Mirror) - Henrique Foréis Domingues
- Caçador (Huntsman) - Túlio de Lemos
Voice Actors: (Approximate ages are listed at the time of the 1938 release.)
- Snow White (speaking) - Dalva de Oliveira (1917-1972). Dalva was a singer, actress, and radio personality. In the 1940s and '50s, she was know as ‘The Queen of the Radio’ in Brazil. Age 21.
- Snow White (singing) - Maria Clara Tati Jacome (1905-1984). A soprano singer who became popular in 1937. Her Snow White role was the only big work of her career. She retired from singing in the 1940s to raise her children. Age 33.
Dalva de Oliveira (SW speaking) + Maria Clara Tati Jacome (SW singing)
- Evil Queen - Cordelia Ferreira (1898-2000). An actress, singer, and radio personality. Quite famous from the 1930s to '50s for her voice roles in programs where movies and novels were dramatized for radio. Age 39.
- Old Witch - Estephania Louro (1876-1942). A famous theatre actress in the 1920s and '30s. Also the mother of four well-known actresses in Brazil. Age 61.
Cordelia Ferreira (Queen) + Estephania Louro (Witch)
- The Prince (speaking & singing) - Carlos Galhardo (1913-1985). Very popular from 1930s to '50s. A top Brazilian radio singer, his recordings had been released on no less than 580 78rpm records! He also appeared in some movies too. Age 25.
- Doc/Magic Mirror - Henrique Foréis Domingues "Almirante" (1908-1980). Known as Almirante (the Admiral), Henrique was a singer, producer, broadcaster, and historian. He also worked on a lot of other Disney movie dubs. Age 30.
Carlos Galhardo (Prince) + Henrique Foréis Domingues (Doc/Magic Mirror)
- Grumpy - Aristoteles Pena (1897-1990). Famous singer in 1920’s, followed by a successful career as a popular movie actor in 1940s. Age 41.
- Happy - Delorges Caminha (1902-1971). An actor and theatre director. In 1940s, he founded Cia Delorges de Teatro--a theatrical company which became quite well-known. Age 35.
- Sneezy - Edmundo Maia (1888-1972). An actor, radio personality, broadcaster, and newspaper editor. Age 49.
Aristoteles Pena (Grumpy) + Delorges Caminha (Happy) + Edmundo Maia (Sneezy)
- Sleepy/Bashful - Baptista Junior (1894- 1943). Baptista was an actor and singer (the first in Brazil to do the "caipira" country style). He was also the most famous Brazilian ventriloquist--a passion he had until the end of his life. He could do 22 different voices with a closed mouth. Age 44.
- Huntsman - Túlio de Lemos (1909-1978). An actor, voice talent and lyric radio singer. He wrote about 50 radio programs/novels. Age 27.
Baptista Junior (Sleepy/Bashful) + Túlio de Lemos (Huntsman)
Branca de Neve was the most anticipated film of 1938 in Brazil. On August 20, Getúlio Vargas (the president of the country from 1934-1945) watched the dubbed version with his family (and other VIPs) in the Palácio Guanabara in Rio. They loved it, saying it was the best movie of all time and the greatest masterpiece of Walt Disney.
It premiered to the public on September 5, 1938 in Rio de Janeiro at two cinema-- the Odeon and São Luiz. All screenings were completely sold out that day, filling all 2000 seats in both theatres. The crowds generated by the event backed traffic up on the streets for two hours.
Just over a month later on October 10th, it was released in São Paulo at three theatres--Alhambra, Odeon and Rosario. It played for a month (something other films never did back then).
After the first run theatres, Snow White continued to screen at smaller cinemas until 1939. By this time, the 35mm prints of the movie were so worn out that it became impossible to exhibit them anymore.
The Brazilian dub wasn't perfect. There were issues with the voices being out of sync with the animation. In addition, not all cinemas had sound systems suitable for playback of the dialogue. With no subtitles, audiences had trouble at times understanding what was being said. And yet, much of the population still loved the film, especially since they recognized the voices of the actors--all of whom were well known at the time.
The motion picture made its Portugal premiere in Lisbon on December 14, 1938. Both Dalva de Oliveira and Maria Clara Tati Jacome would travel to Europe to attend the event at the Teatro Politeama. The general release occurred on March 9, 1939. Two versions were shown in Portugal, the Brazilian dub and also the original English-language print with Portuguese subtitles.
The movie was reissued in Brazil by RKO on June 22, 1944 with new 35mm copies; again on August 27, 1952; and finally in July 1958 (in some states).
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In September 1965, Disney decided to redub the movie. This time the recording sessions took place at the Studios of Riosom in Rio de Janeiro. Telmo de Avelar was the dubbing director. He would also translate the dialogue along with Gilberto Souto. Aloysio de Oliveira translated the songs. The redubbed version premiered in Rio on December 27, 1965.
- Branca de Neve (Snow White, speaking) - Maria Alice Barreto (1930-2010). Age 34.
- Branca de Neve (Snow White, singing) - Cybele Ribeiro Freire (1940-2014). Age 25.
- Rainha Má (Evil Queen) - Lourdes Mayer (1922-1998). Age 43.
- Mendiga (Old Witch) - Estelita Bell (1910-2005). Age 55.
- Principe (Prince) - João Alberto Perssom (1935-2013). Age 30.
- Mestre (Doc) - Magalhães Graça (1927-1989). Age 38.
- Zangado (Grumpy) - Ênio Santos (1922-2002). Age 63.
- Dengoso (Bashful) - Navarro de Andrade (1910-1999). Age 64.
- Soneca (Sleepy) - Allan Lima (1932-2006). Age 33.
- Atchim (Sneezy) - Orlando Drummond (1919-). Age 55.
- Feliz (Happy)/Espelho Mágico (Magic Mirror) - Joaquim "Luís" Motta (1935-1990). Age 30.
- Caçador (Huntsman) - Domício Costa (1928-2016). Age 37.
- Narrator - Aloysio de Oliveira (1914-1995). Age: 50.
Maria Alice Barreto (SW speaking) + Cybele Ribeiro Freire (SW singing)
Lourdes Mayer (Queen) + Estelita Bell (Witch)
João Alberto Perssom (Prince) + Magalhães Graça (Doc) + Ênio Santos (Grumpy)
Navarro de Andrade (Bashful) + Allan Lima (Sleepy) + Orlando Drummond (Sneezy)
Joaquim "Luís" Motta (Happy/Magic Mirror) + Domício Costa (Huntsman) + Aloysio de Oliveira (Narrator)
In the 1938 version, Sleepy was referred to as "Somneca" and his name was shown in the dwarfs' bed scene. Yet because of new norms in the Portuguese language, the name was changed to "Soneca" in the 1965 dub. As you might expect, it was the 1965 version that was used in the 1994 VHS release. However, with the 2001 DVD, they went back to the 1938 Somneca.
A similar change can be seen in the Queen’s spell book. In 1938, the words “Victima” and “Somno” were used. Today they are “Vítima” and “Sono”.
Screen captures copyright Disney.
With the DVD release in 2001, a third dub of Branca de Neve was recorded specifically for the European market. This one was done in Portugal where the actors spoke in the vernacular of the region. The soundtrack was issued on compact disc too.
A very special thank you goes out to Leo Forli for sharing these details from his many hours of investigating the Brazilian dubs. Check out more of Leo's research at: