Copy of Original Production Drawing of the Old Hag (The Witch) from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Original production drawing of the Old Hag (The Witch) holding the poisoned apple from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937; Red, green, blue and graphite pencils on peg hole paper; Numbered 418 lower right; Stamped production numbers lower left; Size - Old Hag: 5 1/2 x 4", Sheet 15 1/2 x 12 1/2"; Unframed.
The famed animator Joe Grant created the initial sketches of the Witch, which had some basis in the early Witch drawings from Arthur Rackham's illustrations from "Hansel and Gretel." After Walt Disney approved the character design; Norman Ferguson was given the task of animating her. There were early concerns that the Witch would be viewed by the audience as more of a laughable and entertaining clown rather than an evil old hag; however, Norm's animation skill won out and the character seems even more menacing than her prior Queenly form. The Witch is the only character in "Snow White" to look directly into the camera and therefore address the audience. With her one tooth, expressive eyes, and boney hands; Ferguson had a lot of choices in which to invoke fear and to scare. Despite her slow movements and apparent frailness, we all know there is pure evil afoot!
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was to be the first full-length cel animated feature in motion picture history, and as such Walt Disney had to fight to get the film produced. Both his brother and business partner Roy Disney, as well as his wife Lillian attempted to talk him out of it. The Hollywood movie industry mockingly referred to the film, while is was in production, as "Disney's Folly." Disney ended up having to mortgage his house to help finance the film's production, which would eventually ran up to a total cost of $1,488,422.74; an absolutely massive sum for a feature film in 1937!
The voice of the Queen was provided by Lucille Leverne and she also wanted to read for the part of the Witch. Leverne was a veteran stage actress and was perfect for the Queen, with a real regalness to her voice. When she was in the sound booth and Walt Disney heard her reading the role of the Witch, he stopped her and said that her voice just did not work for that role. Lucille said to just wait one minute and left the sound booth and then quickly returned and started the reading again. Now her voice had changed to that wonderful raspy, gummy, and single toothed sounding Witch. Disney was amazed and asked how she had managed to get that perfect character voice, and Lucille replied, "Oh, I just took out my false teeth."
One of the greatest scenes in the film "Snow White" is when the Evil Queen has transformed into the Old Hag/Witch and she is inside the Dwarf cottage trying to get Snow White to take a bite from the poisoned apple. This wonderful eyes and mouth open drawing is from that pivotal scene and the dialog is below:
Witch: "And because you've been so good to poor old Granny, I'll share a secret with you. This is no ordinary apple, it's a magic wishing apple."
Snow White: "A wishing apple?"
Witch: "Yes! One bite, and all your dreams will come true."
Snow White: "Really?"
Witch: "Yes, girlie. Now, make a wish, and take a bite."
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