Walt Disney was a 16-year-old newsboy when he attended a free event at the Kansas City Convention Center in 1917 to see Miss Marguerite Clark on screen in a live-action rendition of the well known German fairy tale, Snow White. It was one of the first features he’d ever seen and he was hooked. “I thought it was the perfect story… It had the sympathetic dwarfs…the heavy…the prince and the girl. The romance…the perfect story.”
As part of the Walt Disney Family Museum’s celebration of Disney’s Snow White, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is thrilled to present Walt’s original inspiration. Directed by J. Searle Dawley and starring Marguerite Clark in the lead role, the film was thought lost until materials were discovered in the Netherlands, and a print was preserved at George Eastman House. Clark’s portrayal of the dewy fresh Snow White is pitch perfect—even though she was 33 at the time!
The original Snow White was released by the Famous Players Film Company on December 25, 1916. It first screened in San Francisco at the still extant, 1400+ seat Imperial Theater (1077 Market Street) in the middle of the following month. The film proved popular, enough so that it was brought back to the Imperial on February 1, 1917 for a special one time only 10:00 am Saturday morning kiddie matinee. The film returned again later in February to the New Fillmore theater.
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the first Snow White on Saturday, February 16th at 10:00 am at the Castro Theater. The Castro Theater itself is presenting Walt Disney's 1937 version of Snow White January 1st through January 6th.