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Obituary

Adriana Caselotti; Voice of Snow White in Disney Classic

January 21, 1997|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Adriana Caselotti, the ageless and innocent bell-toned voice of Snow White in Walt Disney's indelible first animated full-length feature "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," has died. She was 80.

Caselotti died Sunday at her Los Angeles residence after suffering from cancer, Disney officials said.

"This is certainly the end of an era for all of us at the studio and for Disney animation lovers the world over," said Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Co. "We really feel as if we've lost a member of the family. Adriana played such an important part in our history and became the true embodiment of that wonderful character."

Growing up in a musical family, Caselotti overheard a call to her father, vocal coach Guido Caselotti, from a Disney casting representative asking about talented voice students. Although about 150 young girls had already auditioned, Disney was still searching for the perfect voice for his young heroine.

"Listen to me--wouldn't my voice do?" Caselotti asked her father.

The 15-year-old got the part. Her gestures as well as her voice were immortalized in the often-reissued 1937 classic, and she repeatedly said the experience was the high point of her life.

"I know that my voice will never die," Caselotti proudly told The Times in 1995.

Born in Bridgeport, Conn., Caselotti was educated in an Italian convent while her mother, Maria, sang with the Royal Opera in Rome. Later Caselotti studied voice with her father in New York.

She sang on radio from New York and Los Angeles and had bit parts in several motion pictures, including "The Wizard of Oz."

Caselotti's home in the Larchmont area had a small wishing well in the front yard and had once boasted copies of the seven dwarfs as well. Her answering machine had a greeting in song from Snow White.

In 1994, Caselotti received a Disney Legend Award from the company she helped to flourish, and placed her handprints in concrete in front of Disney's Studio Theater.

Survivors include her sister, Louise. The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the American Humane Society.

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