CineSavant Column

Saturday July 10, 2021



A short note today, mainly because relatives are in town, and terrific Column items haven’t been flying in the door. We took a walk after eating a few nights ago and someone said, ‘What about the wishing well lady,‘ that we went by when we were kids, the one that sang to us?’ Somewhere around 1981-1985 we were told that the little, old-fashioned decorative well in a particular front lawn was the home of the singer who sang for Snow White in Walt Disney’s original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, over forty years before. So we walked down the street to see if the well was still there. It was behind a fence and a hedge. Since I’m not giving out any address or directions here, I feel safe in posting the photo we took.

Back in the 1980s when the kids were tiny we had this habit of similarly walking around the neighborhood on Easter morning, when we were all dressed up. On this one morning we went looking for this well, found it and read a little sign pinned to the well, that may have simply read, ‘I’m wishing.’ The lady was standing right there — she immediately put down her garden hose and sang a full set of measures of the famous song. Our four-year-old was delighted, as she was hip to the gag, so to speak — she’d seen the movie and had the cassette of the music. The nice lady didn’t talk to us — it was apparently her custom to sing but not to engage in conversation, at least not with people like us that didn’t force ourselves on strangers.

We swung back the next year almost by accident, to see if the well was still there. I think I was halfway through saying, ‘I guess we didn’t get lucky this y– ‘ when the door popped open and the elderly lady came out singing, in the same warbling, high-note style. It was almost like a cuckoo clock — she popped out, sang her song and popped back in, with a smile. We were again charmed.

We caught her name in the newspaper once, which explained the story of how she was hired by Disney. The article made it look as if she’d gotten a raw deal. The wiki link for Adriana Caselotti isn’t so harsh, yet it seems that her contract with Disney did curb her performing career — she couldn’t sing as Snow White anywhere else.

So Ms. Caselotti’s memory remains something of a local legend here, in a place where one can run into familiar performing faces even when one is not looking. She sang to my kids and made them feel special, so thinking of her will always make me smile.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson