19 things you didn’t know about ‘101 Dalmatians’

The film won a BAFTA award.

caption
The film won a BAFTA award.
source
Disney

  • “101 Dalmatians” was released in 1961.
  • The film made over $102 million and was the highest grossing film of it’s year.
  • A live-action remake was made in 1996, with a spin-off about Cruella de Vil announced to be in the making.

Since its release in 1961, “101 Dalmatians” has held an important place in Disney history, even prompting a live-action remake in 1996 starring Glenn Close.

A spin-off movie has also been announced, currently titled “Cruella,” with Emma Stone playing the fur-obsessed villain in the live-action prequel.

INSIDER takes a look back at the film that started it all, and some surprising facts about how it was made.


It was the first film to use a new animation process.

caption
The film was made using a new animation process.
source
Disney

According to the Walt Disney Animation Studios archives, “101 Dalmatians” was the first Disney film to only use the Xerox process to animate drawings. This would greatly increase the production process for future feature films.


The film won a BAFTA award.

caption
The animated film won a BAFTA.
source
Disney

In addition to being nominated for a Grammy Award, the puppy-centric film won a BAFTA award for best animated film.


The 1961 film has a nearly perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.

caption
The animated film has a 98% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
source
Disney

The animated “101 Dalmatians” has a 98% critics rating and a 76% viewers’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For comparison, the film’s live action counterpart has a 39% critics rating and a 40% viewers’ rating on the site.


The voice of Donald Duck is in the film.

caption
Donald Duck
source
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

More accurately, the original voice of Donald Duck, Clarence Nash, plays an uncredited part in the film. According to IMDb, the voice actor recorded all the dogs’ barks in the film.


The movie was based on a novel.

caption
The film was based on a book.
source
Disney

Like most Disney films, “101 Dalmatians” was based on the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith. Based on the plot summary of the book, not much was changed from the book to the on-screen adaptation.


Disney renamed the main characters.

caption
Roger and Anita.
source
Disney

In the film, Roger and Anita’s last name is “Radcliffe.” But, in the original book, the couple’s last name was “Dearly.”


There was a “101 Dalmatians” book sequel.

caption
Pongo and Perdita.
source
Disney

Dodie Smith did write a follow-up to her popular book. Titled “The Starlight Barking,” the sequel is focused on one of Pongo and Perdita’s pups, who is all grown up and searching to break an enchantment that threatens to eliminate dogs as man’s best friend.


Pongo is based on a real dog.

caption
Pongo.
source
Disney

Speaking of Pongo, the Dalmatian dad was inspired by Smith’s own pup of the same name. She was gifted the spotted Dalmatian in 1934 by her husband. The dog would later inspire what many consider to be her greatest novel “101 Dalmatians.”


Marc Davis wanted Cruella to be a modern-day villain.

caption
Cruella de Vil.
source
Disney

Unlike his previous villain Maleficent, Davis wanted his animation of Cruella to give Disney a modern-day villain. As the sole animator assigned to bring this creation to life, Davis was said to have been inspired by a woman at a cocktail party, although he never revealed the name of the inspiration out of respect.


Tallulah Bankhead may have inspired some parts of Cruella.

caption
The inspiration for the character is a bit of a mystery.
source
Disney

Although the actual inspiration for the character remains a mystery, Davis once told the LA Times he wanted to mimic Cruella off the actress Tallulah Bankhead, the one woman he said he knew was “just a monster.” It’s said that many of Bankhead’s quirks and eccentrics seem to be included in the film.


The voice of Cruella should seem familiar.

caption
Betty Lou Gerson voiced Cruella.
source
Disney

Voiced by Betty Lou Gerson, Cruella de Vil’s voice should seem oddly familiar to loyal Disney fans. “101 Dalmatians” was Gerson’s second film with the company. She had previously voiced the narrator in “Cinderella,” which premiered 11 years prior.


Characters from “Lady and the Tramp” make an appearance.

caption
The characters of Lady and Tramp can be seen in the film.
source
Disney

You can spot a few familiar faces in “101 Dalmatians.” During the “Twilight Bark” scene, characters from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” are clearly visible – and Lady and Tramp themselves even make an appearance.


“101 Dalmatians” was the highest grossing film of 1961.

caption
The film made over $102 million.
source
Disney

Following the dismal performance of “Sleeping Beauty” in 1959, no one was quite expecting the financial success of “101 Dalmatians.” Making over $102 million in 1961, the animated film was the top-grossing film of the year in the US, beating out “West Side Story,” “The Parent Trap,” and “Gone With the Wind.”


There are lots of hidden Mickeys in the film.

caption
You can see hidden Mickeys on Pongo.
source
YouTube

If you look carefully at the spots on Pongo and the rest of his brood, there are plenty of hidden Mickeys to be found. There’s a hidden Mickey in the opening scene of the film when Pongo is looking for a match for his human, as well as a hidden Mickey during the park scene with Pongo.


There are millions of spots in the film.

caption
Pongo is said to have 72 spots.
source
Disney

A dedicated fan took the time to count up all the spots in the film and found that there were a whopping 6,469,952 spots in the animated film. Pongo is said to have 72 spots, while Perdita has 68.


Tons of paint was used for the film.

caption
The studio used 800 gallons of paint.
source
Disney

You can’t animate over six million spots without paint, which is why the animation studio used 800 gallons of paint for the film. In total, the special paint used to create the animated movie weighed five tons.


The dogs are actually light grey.

caption
White paint would have been too bright against the snow.
source
Disney

In reality, Dalmatian dogs are white with black spots, but in order for the color of the dogs to look good on camera, the animators used a light grey paint to create the dogs’ coats. Animators have previously said that using white paint would have been too bright and made it difficult to spot the pups during the treacherous snow scenes.


Tons of colors were created for the film.

caption
1,000 different shades were mixed for the film.
source
Disney

In total, 1,000 different shades of paint were mixed for the film, including 100 specially mixed for the film to create the perfect look. It’s no easy feat coloring a film with multiple seasons and over 100 dogs.


Another Disney film appears in “101 Dalmatians.”

caption
“Springtime” is shown in the film.
source
Disney

During the scene with Horace, Jasper, and the kidnapped puppies, Disney’s black and white film “Springtime” can be seen playing on the TV. “Springtime” was originally released in 1929 and celebrates the coming of spring after a storm.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.