I was reading a post the other day on Mag's blog which mentioned the
famous 1937 Walt Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Getting curious, I decided to see who did the voice of Snow White.
Disney conducted an extended search for the right voice for the movie,
going through 150 auditions. They finally settled on Adriana Caselotti,
who at that time had been doing minor chorus girl roles for MGM Studios.
The Disney people bought up her contract and the role was cast.
As reported by the New York Times:
Miss Caselotti said she was paid $20 a day to sing and read the lines
for the role, for a total of $970, and that she did not realize she was
working on a full-length animated film.
"They had told me that it was going to be a little longer than their
shorts, which were 10 to 12 minutes," she said. "So 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 movie stars — Marlene Dietrich,
Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper — everybody was there. I discovered this
thing was an hour and 23 minutes."
Disney kept Caselotti in a veritable prison with their contract. She
was not allowed to perform in other roles after that, nor to make
public appearances and perform, saying that they did not want to
spoil the illusion of Snow White. Nor did they give her new roles.
Caselotti was to perform in only three future films in her entire
career, background bits in The Wizard of Oz, and It's a Wonderful
Life. Years later, in 1983, she worked for Disney in the television
movie The Fairest of Them All.
But Caselotti, regretfully, ended up working for Disney yet again.
In the early 90s Disney Studios, working to issue a technologically
enhanced version of Snow White, brought her back to do the vocals
for a newly discovered scene. But evidently the Disney people didn't
like Caselotti's voice at that point. So they brought in another singer,
Mary Kay Bergman, to replace her. Caselotti was not informed about
this replacement, nor did she know until 1993 when the Snow White
character appeared in a segment of the Academy Awards. Bergman had
not known of the duplicity either, saying in 1995 that "Adriana was
cringing, and I know she was livid, and I don't blame her. I felt so
bad for her because that's not the way it should be. In fact, I consider
Adriana to be the definitive Snow White."
Regretfully, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs doesn't seem quite so
magical to me all of a sudden. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me
twice, shame on me" goes the old saying. And it is true that most
studios back then treated their people under contract as little more
than cattle. But I would somehow have expected better of Walt Disney.
And it is impossible for me not to cast Disney as the Evil Queen in
 Lawson, Tim and Alisa Persons. The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's
Who of Cartoon Voice Actors, University Press of Mississippi, 2004.