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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Original Production Animation Cels of The Seven Dwarfs: Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful, Doc, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Happy from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937


Original hand painted and hand inked production cels of all Seven Dwarfs: Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful, Doc, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Happy; Set over a hand painted Courvoisier background from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937; Size - Dwarfs: 7 x 10 1/2", Image 9 1/2 x 12"; Unframed.

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Development on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs began in early 1934, and by June Walt Disney announced to The New York Times the production of his first feature, to be released under Walt Disney Productions.  Before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Disney studio had been primarily involved in the production of animated short subjects in the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies series.  However, Disney hoped to expand his studio's prestige and revenues by moving into features, and he estimated that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs could be produced for a budget of $250,000 (this was ten times the budget of an average Silly Symphony).

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!

Although the initial concept designing of the dwarfs was relatively easy for the Walt Disney animation department, the actual animating of them proved to be difficult. The animators, already finding human figures difficult to animate, now had to animate dwarfed human figures. The great Disney animator Vladimir Tytla noted that the dwarfs should walk with a swing to their hips, and Fred Moore commented that they had to move a little more quickly in order to keep up with the other human characters. A 3-D armature sculpture of each dwarf was constructed as reference for the animators.

In the pre-production stages of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Dopey was simply called 'The Seventh'. His personality and role were finalized late in the process, after it was suggested that Dopey should move like burlesque comedian Eddie Collins. Collins began his career in vaudeville and went on to become a successful comedian, actor, and singer. He helped to define the character's personality through his live action filmed sequences, as well as providing the few vocal sounds that Dopey made during the film. He also provided the sounds of a sneezing chipmunk and a squirrel.

Dopey is the youngest of the dwarfs, as proven by his lack of a beard. But perhaps his most notable trait is his lack of speech. In the film Happy states Dopey is simply unaware whether or not he can speak, as he has simply never tried. In spite of this, he can occasionally be heard making various vocal sounds such as whimpers, hiccups, and a one-shot yell. The other dwarfs seem to have no problem understanding Dopey, and Doc was able to easily translate Dopey's blathering into a cohesive sentence. Various Walt Disney artists were involved in the animation of Dopey throughout the film including: Vladimir Tytla, Fred Moore, Frank Thomas, Shamus Culhane, Les Clark, Ollie Johnston, and Art Babbit.

Grumpy was animated by Vladimir "Bill" Tytla, who also animated Doc. Tytla's Grumpy is the second most popular of the seven dwarfs, just behind Dopey.

From Disney animator Andreas Deja:
"Tytla animated 'from the inside out.' For every scene he did, he lived inside of that character. He drew absolutely beautifully, but bringing out  emotion and personality came first. Even if that lead to an off model drawing here and there. Walt had Fred Moore take a look at a few of Tytla's Grumpy scenes in order to punch up the 'charm level.'"

Bashful is very shy and coy, and he has a crush on the beautiful Snow White. His shyness prompts him to blush and he then covers his reddened face behind his hands and beard; which is often accompanied by giggles. Various Walt Disney artists were involved with Bashful's concept and animation throughout the film including: Vladimir Tytl, Fred Moore, Shamus Culhane, and Les Clark. The film and television actor Scotty Mattraw provided the voice for Bashful.

Doc was not present in the original November 1935 story outline of the film as referenced by Robert D. Field in "The Art of Walt Disney." However, several months later his role in the film and his relationship with Grumpy was well established. Walt Disney commented that Doc's flustered personality should be such that he never knew quite where he is without one of his fellow dwarfs reminding him. Radio comedian Roy Atwell, who used stammering and mixed-up language in his act, was chosen to be the voice of Doc. Various Walt Disney artists were involved in the animation of Doc throughout the film including: Vladimir Tytl, Fred Moore, Shamus Culhane, Les Clark, and Ward Kimball.

In order to establish Sleepy's character during the march home in "Heigh Ho", the animation director Vernon Stallings noted that traits specific to Sleepy should be taken into account. An early drawing by Albert Hurter of Sleepy with his mouth wide open in a yawn inspired the lead animator for the character, Fred Moore to be more extreme in Sleepy's animation. Moore made sure that, on every animation drawing of Sleepy, one eye was larger than the other; or one eye was more squashed than the other; in order to suggest the dwarf's perpetual sleepiness. Sleepy was voiced by the great Walt Disney voice actor, Pinto Colvig.

Due to Sneezy's severe hayfever, he sneezes very often throughout the film and this often prevents him from speaking. His sneezes can be gale force and will blow away anything and anyone in their path. As a result, the other dwarfs are quick to hold his nose whenever they feel he may have a sneeze approaching. The memorable scene in which the dwarfs tie a knot in Sneezy's beard was inspired by an early sketch by Albert Hurter, a concept and inspirational sketch artist at Walt Disney Studios. Various Disney artists were involved in the animation of Sneezy throughout the film including: Ward Kimball, Vladimir Tytl, Fred Moore, Shamus Culhane, and Les Clark. Billy Gilbert, an American comedian and actor known for his comic sneeze routines, provided the voice of Sneezy.

Happy is bubbly, bright, very friendly, and the most cheerful of all the dwarfs. His gleeful attitude prompts him to laugh often, and he is a singer, yodeler, and musician. Happy is plump and although six of the dwarfs have eyebrows that were modeled after Walt Disney’s; Happy has eyebrows that are white and bushy. Various Walt Disney artists were involved in the animation of Happy throughout the film including: Vladimir Tytl, Fred Moore, Shamus Culhane, and Les Clark. The former vaudevillian comedic actor Otis Harlan provided the voice of Happy.


Close up of the Seven Dwarfs Courvoisier cel setup.

The is an absolutely stunning original production animation multiple cel Courvoisier setup of all Seven Dwarfs: Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful, Doc, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Happy. It is extremely rare to all have all Seven Dwarfs in a single setup, and this would be the highlight for any animation art collection!

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