Burpy, baldy, deafy … auctioned artwork reveals rejected Snow White dwarves

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Bonhams sketches flesh out 16 potentially offensive characters that didn’t make the cut for the final seven in classic Disney animation

Burpy, baldy, deafy … auctioned artwork reveals rejected Snow White dwarves
Tired and emotional … a detail from Albert Hurter’s concept drawings for Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Photograph: Bonhams

A display of concept drawings by the seminal movie artist Albert Hurter have shed new light on some of the rejected characters who didn’t make the cut in Walt Disney’s 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The final lineup – Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey – was selected from a pool of around 50 brainstormed by his team; in the Grimms’ original 1812 story, the dwarves are anonymous.

Although many of the ultimately rejected names – including Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzey, Hickey, Wheezy, Baldy, Gabby, Nifty, Sniffy, Swift, Lazy, Puffy, Stuffy, Tubby, Shorty and Burpy – were already known, the artwork reveals how close some of them came to actual animation. The drawings were sold as part of an auction of 400 pieces at Bonhams in New York that raised a total of £500,000.

Burpy, baldy, deafy … auctioned artwork reveals rejected Snow White dwarves
The full selection of eight Albert Hurter concept drawings, auctioned at Bonhams. Photograph: Bonhams

A sketch of Deafy shows a tunic-clad chap cupping his ear and leaning unhappily towards the noise. Baldy, meanwhile, appears to be attempting to conceal his lack of hair with a huge hood, while also distracting the attention with an impressive tum and some unfortunate tights.

Dr Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said: “I think the guys at Disney will be relieved that the names of the dwarfs were changed at the last minute.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t have offended sensibilities back in the 1930s but it would be a different story today. The original ones aren’t as good as what they eventually came up with.

“The great thing about the names they used is that they’re not just physical references, they’re emotional. It’s good that they made it more about personality than physicality.”

The film is widely regarded as one of Disney’s finest. Its success turned around the studio’s fortunes, and its legacy is still apparent in cinema today. A live-action revisionist spinoff, told from the point of view of Snow White’s sister, Red Rose, was announced by the studio earlier this year.

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