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“This pompous-looking individual is Doc—the self-appointed leader of the group.”
―Walt Disney introducing Doc
Doc is the leader of the seven dwarfs in Disney's 1937 animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Though he may seem befuddled due to his dithering speech pattern, Doc is an intelligent and reliable figurehead to whom the other dwarfs look for guidance.
Doc was not present in the original November 1935 story outline of the film Robert D. Field, "The Art of Walt Disney". Several months later, his role in the film and his relationship with Grumpy was established: Walt Disney commented that Doc's flustered personality should be such that he never knew quite where he is without one of his fellow dwarfs reminding him. Disney personally suggested the sequence in which Grumpy feeds him the phrase "mad as hornets" when Doc is lost for words, causing Doc to blurt out Grumpy's words without thinking, and having to go back and correct himself, leading to even more dithering.
Radio comedian Roy Atwell, who used stammering in his act and specialized in mixed-up language, was appropriately chosen for the voice of Doc.
Though designing the dwarfs was relatively easy, animating them proved to be difficult, as the animators, already finding human figures difficult to animate, now had to animate 'ill-formed' human figures. Vladimir Tytla noted that the dwarfs should walk with a swing to their hips, and Fred Moore commented that the dwarfs had to move a little more quickly to keep up with the human characters. In order to establish Doc's character during the march home in "Heigh Ho", George Stalling noted traits specific to the character, to be taken into account in the animation: An armature of each dwarf was constructed as reference for the animators. Les Clark was responsible for the animation of Snow White dancing with Doc and Happy. Clark found this task difficult but reputedly accepted and completed it without argument. Snow White's movements and a decrease in size as she moved further from the camera were dictated by the filmed footage of Marge Champion, though Doc and Happy were drawn without the aid of live-action reference.
A sequence which was fully animated was ultimately cut as it was felt to detract from the story. Following Snow White's promise that she will cook gooseberry pie, all dwarfs cheer and agree that she can stay. The deleted sequence begins when Grumpy disagrees and scolds his fellows for weakening at the mention of gooseberry pie. Doc confronts Grumpy and demands that he let Snow White stay, but Grumpy continues to refuse. The two dwarfs walk up to each other, eventually hurting themselves by squashing their bulbous noses against each other. As they back away from each other again, Grumpy insults Doc, who, flustered, tried to repeat the phrase but gets it wrong at every attempt. Grumpy, fed up, twists Docs nose; Doc retorts by knocking Grumpy's nose, causing it to swing from side to side. A fight ensues, which Grumpy appears to be winning until the other dwarfs try to pry him away. Snow White reminds them of how scary the forest will be for her if she has to leave, and Grumpy finally agrees that she can stay until she has made the gooseberry pie. The entire sequence can be seen on the second disc of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition DVD.
A scene was storyboarded and partly animated in which the dwarfs hold a meeting to decide on a gift for Snow White. Doc suggests a royal coach, with six white horses; his idea is rejected. Sleepy's idea for a bed is ultimately agreed upon, and Doc declares that he will 'fix' Snow White's name on the bed. Of course, he also oversees the bed's construction. During the bed-building sequence, Doc is seen with a chisel. Dopey, who is collecting fabric for the bed, sneaks up behind Doc and pulls his vest from under his coat. Before Doc knows what is going on, Dopey has returned to Happy with the vest, sending the jolly dwarf into hysterics.
The pompous, pot-bellied self-proclaimed leader of the seven dwarfs, Doc often bumbles and stammers, losing his train of thought mid-sentence or mixing up letters and sounds saying things like, "search every crook and nanny" or "what are you and who are you doing?" Nevertheless, he appears to hold complete authority over all the dwarfs except for Grumpy, who often objects to his decisions. This drives an ongoing rivalry between the two opposing forces, though Grumpy usually follows Doc's lead, nevertheless, with most situations.
Doc encourages rational, organized behavior amongst the dwarfs and is particularly kind towards Snow White. He is the most vocal in accommodating and comforting her, allowing her to sleep in their beds and warning her against inviting strangers into the house. This also ties into Doc's more fatherly nature, which can also be seen when dealing with the comedically childish Dopey who, despite his incompetence, acts as Doc's right-hand-man; the head dwarf often acting as a caretaker of sorts, when with Dopey.
However, despite being the leader and the individual the other dwarfs look to for guidance, Doc is fairly weak under pressure, often falling into mild panic attacks or becoming too flustered himself to think of a decent course of action when a situation of high importance falls upon the dwarfs, as seen during the return to the cottage, moments before meeting Snow White, and most notably during the climax. Fortunately, in times of such distress, the other dwarfs would assist in rallying a cohesive suggestion, with Doc following along before eventually taking leadership, once again.
Doc is first introduced, with his six companions, at the Dwarfs' Mine. His job is to sort the diamonds that Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Happy have unearthed which Sleepy brings to him. The diamonds that make a ringing sound and are in good shape are valuable and are placed in the bags with the other good diamonds, while the ones that make a clunking sound or are broken are worthless and are tossed aside to be swept up by Dopey. At one point, while seeing Doc study a diamond with a magnifier, Dopey puts two diamonds on his eyes (making it look like he had 18 of them), causing Doc to knock them off Dopey in disapproval. Just seconds after that, the alarm on a clock, which reminded the dwarfs that work was over, went off. Doc is the first to hear the alarm and alerts the other dwarfs that it is time for them to go home and he and Dopey put the diamonds he put on the sacks on the vault and Dopey locks it. He leads the dwarfs as they sing "Heigh-Ho".
When the seven dwarfs reach their cottage, Doc suddenly stops (causing the six other dwarfs to pile up behind him), noticing that light is coming from the house. The dwarfs think that a monster has taken up residence in their house. They sneak into the cottage; Doc, holding a candle, tells them to search everywhere.
At one point, Sleepy steps on a creaky floorboard, flustering Doc. The dwarfs note that the cottage has been cleaned. They decide that whatever is in the cottage is upstairs, and Doc declares that one of them must go upstairs to chase it out of the house. Dopey is elected, and Doc, his hand shaking, gives Dopey the candle. Dopey is so terrified upon entering the bedroom that, when he hears a noise coming from the beds, he screams and rushes downstairs. The dwarfs decide that they must get rid of this beast once and for all, and enter the bedroom, once again led by Doc. They are about to strike whatever is sleeping in their beds when they realize that it is the princess, Snow White. Grumpy begins to complain, and Doc attempts to silence him, but Snow White is woken up. She manages to match the name at the foot of each bed to the correct dwarf, identifying Doc first.
Doc attempts to express his delight, but is flustered, and gets into an argument with Grumpy, who wants Snow White to leave. Eventually, it is agreed that Snow White will clean and cook for the dwarfs if she is allowed to stay. She prepares soup for them but demands that they wash first. Doc attempts to say that they have recently washed, but, after examining each dwarf's hands, the princess sends them outside to a trough. Here, the dwarfs, led by Doc, wash, when Sneezy dips his finger in the water, he blubbers shocking Doc and the other dwarfs except for Grumpy, while singing "Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum (The Dwarfs' Washing Song)". Grumpy refuses to wash, but the other dwarfs, led by Doc, manage to drag him to the water and wash him thoroughly.
Later that evening, after supper, the seven dwarfs entertain Snow White with "The Silly Song", while Doc plays a stringed instrument shaped like a duck, in addition to dancing alongside Snow White. After they finish the song, the dwarfs listen to Snow White sing "Some Day My Prince Will Come", which sends every dwarf, except the stubborn Grumpy, into a dream-like state. Doc declares that Snow White will sleep in the bedroom upstairs, and the dwarves must sleep downstairs. Doc sleeps in the sink.
The next morning, Doc is the first to leave and is seen off by Snow White, whom he warns to be wary of strangers. While the dwarfs head to the mine, the Queen, as the Witch, makes her way to the cottage, knowing that only Snow White will be at home. Upon her arrival at the cottage, the animals sense danger and, after attempting to drive her away, rush to the mine to fetch the dwarfs. When they discover that the Queen has found Snow White, the dwarfs rush home to find that the Witch has succeeded in poisoning the princess and is about to leave. The dwarfs chase the Witch into the mountains, and she reaches a cliff. She attempts to crush the dwarfs with a boulder, but a flash of lightning causes her to fall from the cliff and be crushed by the boulder herself.
The seven dwarfs mourn Snow White's death; Doc is shown comforting a sobbing Dopey on his shoulder. The dwarfs find her to be so beautiful, even in death, that they fashion a coffin from glass and place her inside. The Prince arrives, and the dwarfs part so that he can approach Snow White. He kisses her, breaking the spell of the Sleeping Death, with Doc being the third Dwarf to notice her awakening. The dwarfs cheer, with Doc and Grumpy hugging each other in happiness. Before Snow White leaves with the Prince, she kisses each dwarf on the forehead (Doc was third).
In 1943 educational short, Doc and the dwarfs are enlisted in helping rid their forest and cottage home of deadly mosquitoes that can spread the harmful disease malaria. Throughout the animated short, the dwarfs give examples of the precautions necessary to keep people safe from the spreading crises and ensure safety.
Whilst all of the other dwarfs were featured working alone in certain areas, Doc was notably seen leading the group, working alongside others such as Bashful, Sleepy, and Sneezy.
In the animated series, Doc, like the classic character, serves as the apparent leader of the dwarfs and acts as the brains of the group. Here, Doc is an impressive inventor, capable of creating contraptions varying from giant machines to a customized hat with various useful abilities. His intelligence also makes him the biggest threat to the show's villains, Grim and Hildy Gloom.
Unlike the movie version, however, the 7D version of Doc doesn't constantly stumble on his words and speaks just fine. His rivalry with Grumpy is also nonexistent in this incarnation, mostly due to the fact that Happy's excessively joyous attitude is what annoys Grumpy the most.
Doc made an appearance in the episode "Wish Upon a Coin". He and the other dwarfs are first seen depositing coins into a wishing well, which are soon stolen by Pete, causing Doc and the other dwarfs to fall into panic. Mickey Mouse heads after Pete and manages to retrieve the coins, settling Doc and the other dwarfs and fulfilling their wishes (which is revealed to be a wish to have a head of hair). During a brief scene, Doc was used by Mickey when the latter gave suggestions on what to do following the coin theft, including tripping over a dwarf and sitting on a dwarf.
Doc appeared in the 1941 wartime short, Seven Wise Dwarfs, in which he and the other dwarfs invest the proceeds of their diamond mine into Canadian War Bonds.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Doc is seen in Toontown with many other cartoon characters and Disney characters. Like most of the cameos in the film, Doc plays a very minor, non-speaking role.
Doc makes a brief cameo in Flubber, appearing on Weebo the Robot's video monitor, which showcased a scene from the film.
Doc is a member of the War Council and Personal Physician to Snow White who becomes a Doctor at Storybrooke Hospital. He helps Snow White give birth to Emma. When Greg Mendell literally crashes into Storybrooke, Leroy says Doc is not skilled enough to perform surgery. He is played by David Paul Grove.
Doc appears along with the other Dwarfs in the series, where their first appearance was in a glass podium with Snow White during the first game's Dive to the Heart. Unlike the Beast's servants, they are depicted as awake, meaning either their homeworld was not devoured by the Heartless, or that the Dwarfs were able to get to safety beforehand. Prior to the events of Kingdom Hearts, the Dwarfs' appearances in Birth by Sleep reveals their lives working in the mines for jewels until the arrival of the Keyblade wielders in their world. The Dwarfs encounter the first of these warriors, Ventus, and all show hostility towards the newcomer, with the exception of Dopey. After returning to their cottage, the dwarfs meet Snow White for the first time and take her in after she claimed she was attacked by an Unversed. Unfortunately, Snow White falls into a deep slumber after taking a bite from the Queen's poisoned apple and the Dwarfs place her in a glass coffin to mourn her. Doc fills Aqua in on the situation and thanks to assistance from the latter and the Prince, Snow White is able to awaken, and the Dwarfs celebrate.
Doc also appears in Kingdom Hearts χ along with the others in Dwarf Woodlands.
Doc is a supporting character in Snow White's world. He meets the player after they've been introduced to a problem at hand, being the dwarfs' lack of cooperation as they worked in the mines. With Doc's guidance, however, things are able to move back into form eventually, but when a new problem arise Doc informs the heroine, that problem being the missing color throughout the forest, as well as the stolen color of the rainbow. The dwarfs are able to help guide the heroine throughout the forest to retrieve and return all the missing color, bringing back peace yet again before her departure.
Doc is currently a character in the Disney theme parks, mostly for parades and promotional material as opposed to meet-and-greets. Doc wears a yellow outfit with an orange cap, matching shoes, and blue pants.
An animatronic Doc is featured working in the mines alongside the other dwarfs in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. He can be seen in the mine, bellowing his famous "Heigh-ho", again in the form of a silhouette, and lastly, dancing alongside Snow White during the final scene.
During the Second World War, a radar training squadron, known as the Snow White squadron, named their Boeing B-29 bombers after the characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. One of them was named after Doc, which is the second flyable B-29 alongside FIFI.