Lucille La Verne Mitchum was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 7, 1872. She was 64 years old at the time of the release of the film.

Stage Debut

She made her stage debut at the local summer theater in 1876. The production was called “Centennial” in honor of America’s 100th birthday, and three-year-old Lucille was one of a handful of child extras in the play. She continued to perform each summer, becoming something of a child star of the theater. She quickly proved to be a talented actress and as she grew older, she got better roles. She was highly acclaimed when, in the summer of 1887, she played both Juliet and Lady Macbeth – at only 14 years old.

On the night of her 16th birthday in 1888, she made her Broadway debut with a secondary role in “Tosca” for four weeks. In the fall of 1889, she performed with a theater company in Washington, DC, where she played May in “May Blossom” and Chrissy Rogers in “The Governess.” She also played the role of Ethel in “Judge Not” on tour. Her most notable performance was the Broadway revival of “As You Like It” with an all-female cast in March 1894, and she was praised for her portrayal of “Corin.” During the 1894-95 season, she played the role of Patsy in Frank Mayo’s Broadway production of Mark Twain’s “Pudd’nhead Wilson.” She also achieved great success playing the female leads in three different acclaimed touring productions over the next three years: “Notre Dame” (1895-96), “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1897-98) and “Lady Windermere’s Fan” (1897-98). In 1898, La Verne was appointed manager and director of the newly built Empire Theater in Richmond, Virginia. She directed five shows per season, mostly receiving rave reviews. She has performed everything from lead roles in “Hedda Gabbler” and “Antigone” to character roles such as “Ma Frochard” in “Orphans of the Storm”. She also wrote an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” which she first staged in 1900, and her version was used by several other theaters in the early 1900s. She was highly regarded for her work at the Empire, even receiving the Woman of the Year award from the Virginia Women’s Society in 1901.

She left the Empire Theater at the end of the 1903-04 season to make her London debut in a comedy role in the play “Clarice”. She was again acclaimed and repeated her success in the Broadway production three months later. She remained on the Broadway stage for the next several years in prominent supporting roles.

The Movies

She made her film debut around 1915 in Over Night adapted from a play in which she had acted. From this date, she divided her time between the cinema and the stage. D.W. Griffith used her frequently in the cinema for various roles in Orphans of the Storm, The White Rose, and America. She also played alongside Gloria Swanson in Zaza, Olga Petrova in Tempered Steel, and The Life Mask, and for Josef Von Sternberg in An American Tragedy, where she played the loving mother of a detestable Phillips Holmes, etc.

Orphans of the Storm


Her greatest triumph on stage was the creation of the role of the widow Caggle in the original Broadway production of “Sun Up”. The widow watches in horror as her son goes off to war after she has already lost her husband to the previous one. The son is killed at the front, and she has to hide a deserter in her house, who she learns is the son of her husband’s killer. After the Broadway engagement, she directed, while continuing to act, the American and European tours of the play. Thus, she performed in London before the King on August 13, 1925 and in Paris at the Mathurins in June and July 1929. It is also on this occasion that the critic of Comoedia tells us that she has red hair. She also recreated her role for the film version Sun-Up (1925).

In 1927, the Princess Theater on Broadway was renamed Lucille La Verne Theater in her honor, and she was named director and stage manager. For her first outing as a producer and director on Broadway, she chose an original play called “Hot Water”, giving herself the role of Jessica Dale. The play received mixed reviews and was closed fairly quickly. Later in the same season, she launched a revival of “Sun Up”, reprising her role as the widow Caggle, but the play also closed quickly. As the theater lost money, she was fired as director and the name of the theater was changed back to the Princess Theater. Upset, she temporarily moved to California to make more films.


It is again D.W. Griffith who offers her transition to talking pictures with the short but remarkable role of the midwife in Abraham Lincoln. However, she did not completely abandon the stage and frequently appeared in regional productions in Los Angeles and San Francisco. She plays prominent roles for John Ford in Pilgrimage, and for Jack Conway in an adaptation of Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, for MGM. In the latter, she found a role similar to that of the Orphans of the Storm, where she appears toothless, dirty and disheveled. But this time, the sound allows us to hear her diabolical laughter, the one that must have attracted the attention of Walt Disney. However, if we believe the Imdb, it would be her who would have lent her voice to the witch of the Silly Symphony Babes in the Woods, and, more surprisingly, to the wife of Noah in Noah’s Ark. If accurate, this would prove that she could also sing. However, Russell Merrit and J.B. Kaufman do not confirm the information in their books on the subject, but they do not list other people for these characters.

In 1936, she returned to Broadway in the lead role in the thriller “Black Widow.” Despite the rave reviews she received, the play itself received mixed reviews and was closed after only a few performances. This will be her last production on stage.

A Tale of Two Cities

The Queen of Snow White

La Verne returned to Hollywood to lend her voice to the evil Queen in Walt Disney’s first animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and also posed as a model for the animators. For the lines of the young character, she tries to make her voice as smooth and threatening as possible, and to play the role after transformation, she removes her dentures. But this oft-told anecdote should not make us forget the life she breathes into the character, thanks to a talent she no longer needed to prove.

Lucille La Verne did not only lend her voice to the character. That’s what Joe Grant says in an interview with David Johnson who, although he acknowledges that the conception of the character preceded the hiring of La Verne, admits that he was inspired by her expressions for the final model sheet.

After working on the film, Lucille La Verne retired from acting and became co-owner of a successful nightclub. She died at the age of 72 of cancer on March 4, 1945, in Culver City, California.