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To coincide with the release of the Diamond Edition DVD and Blu-ray of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Oct 2009), we present: Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the Seven Dwarfs – and perhaps a bit more.

“The seven dwarfs, we knew, were ‘naturals’ for the medium of our pictures.
In them we could instil boundless humour, not only as to their physical appearances,
but in their mannerisms, personalities, voices and actions.” – Walt Disney.

By late 1933, Walt Disney began to crystallise his idea of making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a feature-length animated film. Development on the Seven Little Men began early on and by the Autumn of 1934, from several early story meetings in Walt’s office, initial shapes and designs of these characters gave them more of a forest Gnome look.

• Individually, each dwarf represents a type of human personality generally found in most offices, schools or neighbourhoods.

• Other names considered for the dwarfs early on included: Wheezy, Puffy, Stuffy, Biggo-Ego, Jumpy, Baldy, Nifty, Gabby, Stubby and Burby.

• Six of the famed dwarfs have eyebrows fashioned after Walt Disney’s own expressive eyebrows as they fascinated everyone who ever sat in story meetings with him. Walt’s eyebrows tended to wander about, helping to more perfectly express anything Walt wanted to convey. Early on, the artists agreed on this resemblance however, Happy is the only one who is different as his eyebrows are white and bushy.

• These rosy-cheeked, apple-faced dwarfs stand about knee high to Donald Duck and made their living at their own mine where they daily hauled gold, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires and other precious gems. Nice work if you can get it!

• With the exception of Dopey, the dwarfs are dressed in woodsy russet, tan, brown and grey jerkins layered over neutral-coloured breeches which tuck into soft leather footgear.

• It was determined early on that upon meeting the Dwarfs, the audience should get a sense that things have gone along unbothered for these fellows for hundreds of years. Everything is pleasant in a humdrum sort-of-way – everything going according to schedule. The startling interruption of Snow White into their lives clearly shakes things up for these gentle men.

• Personal hygiene for the Dwarfs is usually not a priority as washing and bathing apparently occurs on rare occasions such as annual events like New Years Day for example. But with Snow White’s mandate, the Dwarfs respectfully mind their best table manners and wash up!

• “Jiminy Crickets” – this phrase is usually chorused by all of the Dwarfs when something astonishing or surprising occurs.

• By late 1936, it was determined that Doc would be the leader of the crew.

• It was determined early on that the Dwarfs would carry picks rather than shovels or sacks as they make their way to and from the diamond mine. Dopey was initially designated to carry a lamp swinging from his pick, but in the end, it is Doc leading the way with his lantern.

• Other commonalities include having only 3 fingers and a thumb.

• Final designs of the Seven Dwarfs were approved by late 1936.

• Artists were offered $5 – a hefty sum by late 1930s standards – for every gag featuring the Dwarfs that made it into the final film.

• The Seven Dwarfs appeared together in several commercial shorts after the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, including: The Standard Parade (1939); The Seven Wise Dwarfs (1941); All Together (1942); and The Winged Scourge (1943).

Appearing a bit pompous at times, this self-appointed leader of the group has a habit of getting his words and ideas mixed up. Easily befuddled, Doc’s spectacles often slip a little too far down on his nose as his words often tend to get mixed up. Overly gracious and highly efficient in his own mind until an important decision is necessary and his nerves take over, preventing any relevant decision from being made. A little nervous, Doc never seems to know what to do with his hands.

A fat, roly-poly little fellow, Happy is easily recognised with a perpetual smile and his bright, cheery disposition. His unique bushy white eyebrows are constantly bobbing with his eager grin as Happy always looks on the brighter side of things.

He sees the world through half-closed eyes and always seems to be talking through a yawn. Perpetually nodding off, Sleepy could easily recline anywhere to get some sleep. A rare talker, when he does have something to say, it is always straight and to the point - even though he's too tired to know it

His chronic hayfever presents a difficult challenge as Sneezy often tries to talk through his nose. Always sneezing at the wrong time, Sneezy is a hardworking and loyal friend . . . in between sneezes.

The real leader of the group, Grumpy is ‘agin’ everything. He is grouchy, crabby, and his primary dislike is ‘wimmin!’ While his nose is the most prominent part of his face, his soft, tender heart is even bigger under all that gruff veneer – much to his own disgust. When trouble arises, it’s Grumpy who acts first to save the day!

An incurable romantic, Bashful is a willing and kind-hearted friend, but it’s Snow White who brings out the blush in this shy fellow. Full of wriggles, giggles and ‘oh gosh’-es, Bashful is often twisting one foot around the other or braiding his beard while batting his bashful baby blue eyes.

This loveable, slightly-balmy, child-like fellow gets a great kick out of life. Imbued with a sense of fun, he is a bit like Harpo-Marx, in that Dopey doesn’t speak, but his sly grin seems to ‘tell all.’ Dopey’s garments are at least 5 sizes too big for him, but that only adds to his charm. Somewhat mischievous, Dopey somehow manages to capture the hearts of everyone.

Published October 15, 2009

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