Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcasts of Snow White

Probably the best known radio broadcast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was that of the 1938 Lux Radio Theater (see earlier post) which featured an appearance by Walt Disney himself. Yet, the Screen Guild Theater performed at least five more radio adaptations of Disney's Snow White, each were half-hour shows that aired live from Hollywood. The first in 1944 was followed by one in 1946, two in 1948 and another (that was paired with Pinocchio) in 1950.

The Screen Guild Theater was a popular radio show from 1939 to 1952. It was broadcast on CBS for the majority of its run from 1939-1948 with NBC taking it over from 1948-1950, ABC from 1950-1951 and back again to CBS for one more season in 1952. It also went by different names depending upon who the sponsor was: The Gulf Screen Guild Theater, The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater, The Camel Screen Guild Theater.

Big name Hollywood stars performed on the show to help raise money for the Motion Picture Relief Fund, a charitable organization which assisted retired actors and others in the movie industry who may have fallen on hard times. The salaries from the radio performances were usually donated to this fund.


Original Airdate April 24, 1944...

Listen to the entire 29:09 minute 1944 CBS Snow White performance starring Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Jane Powell and Billy Gilbert.

At the Internet Archive (file no.174)
Also at Free Classic Radio Shows:


Original Airdate December 23, 1946...

The entire 27:58 minute 1946 CBS Snow White performance starring Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Mary Jane Smith and Charles Kemper.

At Free Classic Radio Shows:


Original Airdate June 7, 1948...

The entire 27:30 minute 1948 CBS Snow White performance starring Margaret O'Brien, Jimmy Durante, Mary Jane Smith and Mel Blanc.

At the Internet Archive (file no.326)
Also at Free Classic Radio Shows:


Original Airdate December 23, 1948...

1948 NBC Snow White performance. Starring Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Mary Jane Smith and Charles Kemper. (Audio file not yet located.)


Original Airdate December 28, 1950...

1950 ABC Snow White/Pinocchio performance. Starring Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Fanny Brice and Hanley Stafford. (Audio file not yet located.)


The first three Snow White Screen Guild Theater programs were broadcast on CBS and generally followed the same script, the first two sponsored by Lady Esther and the third by Camel. The fourth program (the second of 1948) was also sponsored by Camel but aired on NBC. The script was probably similar to the earlier ones (but I have not yet located the audio recording to confirm). The last Screen Guild performance of Snow White aired on ABC in 1950.

Both the '44 and '46 performances were narrated by the popular Edgar Bergen with his "side-kick" Charlie McCarthy. The 1948 CBS show featured eleven year old Margaret O'Brien telling the story to Jimmy Durante. Then later in 1948, the NBC program again starred Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy as did the ABC episode in 1950.

Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy 

Margaret O'Brien and Jimmy Durante 
Images via Ventriloquist Central, Wikimedia Commons and AllStarPics.

Fifteen year old (not 14 as stated in the program) Jane Powell played the singing voice of Snow White the first time around. Fourteen year old Mary Jane Smith replaced her two years later in '46 and again in both of the 1948 programs.

The 1944 broadcast saw Billy Gilbert return from the original film to reprise his role as Sneezy. This is probably why Sneezy ends up having the most lines of all the dwarfs in the script. Charles Kemper played the role in '46 while Mel Blanc took it over in the 1948 CBS version. There are moments in Blanc's performance that you can hear distinct shades of Yosemite Sam. Charles Kemper returned in 1948 for the NBC show.

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