John Leroy “Roy” Atwell (May 2, 1878 – February 6, 1962) was an American actor, comedian and composer, known for playing characters that mis-deliver their lines or stammer, most notably Doc from Walt Disney’s classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Born in 1878, Atwell was educated at the Sargent School of Acting, and appeared in 34 films between 1914 and 1947. He was the voice of Doc in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
As well as his film work, he appeared in several Broadway productions, including The Little Missus, The Mimic World, Oh, My Dear!, The Firefly, and How’s Your Health? He was a member of the Fortune Gallo’s San Carlo Opera Company, and joined ASCAP in 1957. He composed the popular song Some Little Bug is Going to Find You. He was married three times, to Blanche West (1907-?), Dorothy Young (1913–1916), and Ethel Smith (1916–1936). Roy Atwell, son of Joseph Addison Atwell, is a direct descendant of Joseph Atwell (1754–1834), a revolutionary war soldier who in 1792 purchased land in the military tract in New York State that was then the frontier and built a house (“Atwell’s Corners”) in what today is known as Pompey Hollow south of Syracuse, New York, near Cazenovia. He wrote the words to a song, “When a Piece of Toast Climbs Your Bedpost with a Cigar.”
When Atwell began working on Broadway, he had a role, as a serious actor, in which he was to deliver the following line: “It is spring and all the little birds are twittering in the tree tops.” Being new and somewhat on edge, what Atwell actually did say was: “Tis ting and the twits are birdering in the tree flops.” Atwell fully expected to be dismissed, but the misdelivered line drew a big laugh from the audience and, after the show was over, he was congratulated and asked to repeat it the next night. His unwitting comedic success caused Atwell to make the change from being a dramatic actor to becoming a comedian.