Snow White Dies

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LOS ANGELES: Adriana Caselotti never forgot that she was Snow White. As the ethereal voice behind Walt Disney's 1934 cartoon embodiment of wide-eyed virtue, Caselotti placed a wishing well in her front yard and a recording of "I'm Wishing" on her telephone answering machine. The 80-year-old singer, who died at home Sunday after a battle with cancer, "was just that wonderful, cheery, little lady," said Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney. Caselotti possessed a similar innocence about the outside world when she was picked at the age of 17 to bring Snow White to life for a whirlwind adventure with Seven Little Dwarfs and an evil stepmother. In a 1993 interview, Caselotti, who was educated in a convent outside of Rome, said that she didn't even realize she was working on Disney's first feature-length production until the movie's star-studded premiere. Paid $970 for her role in making the lighthearted Snow White part of American movie folklore, Caselotti never saw her career venture much beyond "Whistle While You Work" and "I'm Wishing." Disney refused to let her make public appearances as the voice behind Snow White, believing that it would spoil the illusion. Instead, demonstrating a cheery optimism that would have done Snow White proud, Caselotti pursued her own path, taking up opera as a professional singer, playing a bit part in "The Wizard of Oz" and investing in real estate and the stock market.