Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a huge success when it came out in 1937 and remains popular to this day. Snow White's place among the pantheon of Disney princesses is firm. But she was not the first of them.
3 years before Snow White premiered, Disney produced an animated short that retold the Greek myth of Persephone. The main character from the 1934 film The Goddess of Spring was the first realistic but idealized depiction of a beautiful young woman. Erin Blakemore writes for Smithsonian magazine:
Alyssa Carnahan, open studio coordinator at the Walt Disney Family Museum, writes that the project was a chance for Disney’s animators to work on bringing a human character to life. The studio had focused primarily on wacky animals, though early silent shorts featured a real-life girl with long curls named Alice. As they worked on Persephone’s princess-like look and action, animators also developed standards like the model sheet, which allows cel animators to keep character attributes consistent throughout the film.
A look at Persephone shows plenty of similarities to Snow White, from her habit of holding her skirt and twirling, to her proclivity for adorable animals and diminutive people. Persephone might be a goddess, but she’s also the daughter of Zeus and thus a princess, as well—one who exhibits the same characteristics of curiosity, peril and redemption that her later sisters will mirror.
Here's the complete film.
-via Jonah Goldberg