Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Every Princess has a Royal Villain. Snow White's Villain, The Evil Queen

Every Princess has a Royal Villain.

Snow White's Villain, The Evil Queen

Lucile La Vern

November 7th, 1872 – March 4th, 1945

Lucille La Verne (November 7, 1872 – March 4, 1945) was an American actress known for her appearances in silent, scolding, and vengeful roles in early color films, as well as for her triumphs on the American stage.

La Verne was born in Nashville, Tennessee. She began her career as a child in local summer stock. As a teenager, she performed in small touring theater troupes. When she was fourteen she played both Juliet and Lady Macbeth back to back. Her ability to play almost any part quickly caught the attention of more prolific companies, and she made her Broadway debut in 1888. She then became a leading lady with some of the best stock companies in America, scoring triumphs in San Francisco and Boston among other cities. She eventually ran her own successful stock company.

On the New York stage, she was known for her range and versatility. Among her hits on Broadway were principal roles in Uncle Tom's Cabin, Seven Days and Way Down East. She was also known for her blackface roles. Her biggest stage triumph came in 1923, when she created the role of Widow Caggle in the hit play Sun Up. Between the Broadway run, US tour, and European tour, La Verne would give over 3,000 performances. She also worked on Broadway as a playwright and director. In the late 1920s, a Broadway theater was named for her for a short period of time

She made her motion picture debut in 1914. Her best known part is that of the voice of the Wicked Queen, and her alter ego, the old crone from Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was also the Disney artists' model for the old crone that the Queen transforms herself into in order to give Snow White the poisoned apple. (Her resemblance to the crone can be noted in Little Caesar (1931), in which Ms. La Verne plays Ma Magdelena, as well as MGM's film version of Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, in which she plays a confederate of Madame Defarge called The Vengeance.) She died in Culver City, California, after suffering from cancer. Her interment was located at Inglewood Park Cemetery.

At a recording session, Lucille La Verne, the voice of the Wicked Queen, was told by the Disney animators that they needed an older, raspier version of the Queen's voice for the Old Witch. Ms. Laverne stepped out of the recording booth, returned a few minutes later, and gave a perfect "Old Hag's voice" that stunned the animators. When asked how she did it, she replied, "Oh, I just took my teeth out."

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