All of Hollywood's brass turned out for a cartoon--Walt Disney.
The return of the light--the Filmic Light. On this night of the winter solstice seventy-three years ago, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made its world premiere at the 1500 seat Carthay Circle Theatre. It was cold outside, but an electricity was in the air. Grand stands set up across the street were packed with fans while dozens of Hollywood's brightest stars joined the sold out audience inside--which included a select number of the film's storymen, artists and animators.
Charlie Chaplin--who assisted the Disney brothers in setting the distribution price tag for this their first feature film--sent a wire to Walt earlier in the day. It read as follows: I am convinced all our fondest hopes will be realized tonight.
When Walt arrived at the theater, he was asked on national radio by interviewer Buddy Twiss if he was going to watch the movie himself. He responded, Yes, and have my wife hold my hand.
Yet, once the film had begun, it was clear that this would be no ordinary screening, and Walt Disney need not fear the audience's reaction...
 Animator Bill Peet
 Animator Wolfgang (Woolie) Reitherman
[3a] I was sitting near John Barrymore when the shot of the queen's castle above the mist came on, with the queen poling across the marsh in a little boat. He was bouncing up and down in his seat, he was so excited.[3b] Art Director Ken O'Connor
 Animator Shamus Culhane
As I look back on it, we knew where they were going to laugh from experience, but we weren't prepared for the crying and sniffing in the audience. That was the thing I started hearing. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were sitting close, and when Snow White was poisoned, stretched out on that slab, they started blowing their noses. I could hear it--crying--that was the big surprise. Animator Ward Kimball
What I wouldn't have done to be in that audience seventy-three years ago! It's stuff like this that makes life worth living. Tonight also marks one year of blogging here at the Snow White Sanctum...and if the muses be willing, more are in store.
1. Bill Peet quote via Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler, p.272. Photo via Michael Sporn Animation.
2. Woolie Reitherman photo via Michael Barrier December 18, 2008 post.
3a/b. Ken O'Connor quote via Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler, p.272. Also Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Studio Book), Viking Press, 1979, p.225. Photo via Re-Imagineering.
4. Shamus Culhane quote via Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Making of the Classic Film by Brian Sibley and Richard Holliss, p.65. Photo via Animation World Magazine.
5. Ward Kimball quote via Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: An Art in Its Making, p.47. Photo via The Inkling Chronicles.