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Snow White’s Real-Life Fairytale Cottage

Before Adriana Caselotti voiced Snow White, she had her own fairytale cottage on Cahuenga Boulevard.

In 1935, her father, singing teacher Maestro Guido Caselotti, was operating a studio out of a “handsome English type home”—pitched roof, Juliet balconies, and battlement—when he received a call from a Disney casting agent asking if he recommended any of his students who could play a princess.

The Caselotti home, in 1929 during the widening of Cahuenga Boulevard (USC)

Upstairs, the Maestro’s 18-year-old daughter, a chorus girl at MGM who he also trained vocally, was listening in on the telephone line and chimed in: “Papa, how about me?”

Four years earlier, the colotura soprano had made her debut at a Hollywood High School recital and in her senior year landed the lead role in The Belle of New York.

By the time Caselotti auditioned for Disney, 150 other aspiring Snow Whites had gone before her. Unbeknownst to her, Walt Disney himself was in the room, albeit hidden behind a screen so her appearance didn’t influence his decision.

Caselotti was cast, yet paid only $970 for her voice work, which included speaking Snow White’s lines and singing “I’m Wishing,” “Whistle While You Work,” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

She had no idea Snow White was a feature film until she saw it for the first time in December 1937. “I thought it would be 20 minutes long or so. I didn’t realize what had happened until I went to the premiere. I saw all these movies stars—Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper—everybody was there. I discovered this thing was an hour and 23 minutes.”

And soon, she discovered the dark side of Disney. In an effort to preserve the illusion that the animated princess was real, the studio didn’t credit the starring actress—and essentially blacklisted Caselotti from both film and radio. However, she was allowed to dress as Snow White to promote the film.

Caselotti’s two other major uncredited roles: The voice that sings “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” during the Tin Man’s “If I Only Had a Heart” in The Wizard of Oz and in the background of It’s a Wonderful Life in the scene when George Bailey prays at Martini’s bar.

Despite the disappointment of a promising career cut short, Caselotti was proud of Snow White—she displayed a wishing well on the lawn of her Larchmont home, which she built in 1976 (currently for sale, the enchanting three-bedroom can be yours for $2 million).

Worth more to Caselotti was her Disney legacy. In 1995, two years before her death, she mused: “I know that my voice will never die.”


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