With the release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, Walt Disney carved for himself an indelible place in history and in the hearts of movie lovers for more than half a century. The film was Disney’s first full-length feature production, as well as the reason for his 1939 receipt of an Honorary Academy Award for significant screen innovation. Although not his first Oscar, this special award was unique in one particular respect: Disney received not just the one traditional statuette, but also seven miniature statuettes.
Those seven miniature statuettes represented, of course, the film’s seven dwarfs (not “dwarves,” according to the company). A brief general description of each will make them easily distinguishable:
1 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Dopey:
The youngest, sweetest, and silliest of the seven, and the only one to be completely bald and beardless; wears a too large lime green tunic and purple cap.
2 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Grumpy:
The grouchiest and most curmudgeonly of the group, though even he is supremely devoted to the beautiful Snow White; wears a red tunic, long white hair, and beard.
3 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Doc:
The only one of the dwarfs to wear glasses (so presumably the most intellectual); wears an orange-brown tunic, long white hair, and beard.
4 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Happy:
The most rotund of the dwarfs; wears a brownish two-tone tunic, yellow cap, long white hair, and beard.
5 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Bashful:
Evokes his bashful nature through a classic pose of shyness (hands clasped behind back, shoulders slightly raised, eyes upturned); sometimes difficult to distinguish between Sneezy and Sleepy; depicted in a purple tunic and magenta cap (on video), as well as long white hair and beard.
6 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Sneezy:
Frequently shown with one finger underneath his nose, as if trying to stifle a sneeze; sometimes difficult to distinguish between Sleepy and Bashful; wears a yellow-brown tunic, long white hair, and beard.
7 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Sleepy:
Perhaps the most difficult to differentiate between Sleepy and Bashful, though he wears a perpetually sleepy-looking, heavily lidded expression on his face; wears a brownish tunic, green cap, long white hair, and beard.
As the dwarfs’ occupation is working in the diamond mines, they are often depicted carrying rudimentary tools of the trade (lanterns, picks, etc.)
Keeping track of all seven dwarfs is actually quite simple once you have mastered this simple mnemonic device: two S’s, two D’s, and three emotions. Two S’s: Sleepy and Sneezy; two D’s: Dopey and Doc; and three emotions: Happy, Bashful, and Grumpy.
It should be noted, of course, that Walt Disney himself did not author the “fairy tale” of Snow White, which is traditionally attributed to the Brothers Grimm. It should go without saying that Disney and his team took many liberties and added many embellishments to the story, effectively adapting it for a modern audience of both children and adults.
The information contained in this article is, in large part, based on the Disney version of the story since Grimm’s version does not even name the dwarfs.
Color descriptions of the dwarfs’ clothing are based on a composite of their portrayal in the video of the movie and in the online storybook.