The Hundred and One Dalmatians, or The Great Dog Robbery, was a 1956 novel
written by Dodie
Smith. Pongo and Missis were a pair of Dalmatians, owned by
the newly-married Dearly couple, that recently had a litter of puppies. Those
puppies would end up dognapped with 97 others by the evil Cruella de Vil and
her henchmen in order for them to be skinned for their fur. Pongo and Missis
set out to find their puppies in what became a grand adventure involving many
other animals all working together. Smith would follow it up with a direct
sequel, The Starlight Barking, in 1967.
|The original book.
When Walt Disney
read the book in 1957, it grabbed his attention and he immediately set out to
acquire the rights; fulfilling a secret desire of Smith’s. Disney assigned Bill Peet
to write the screenplay for the film adaptation, the first time that a story
for a Disney animated film was written by a single person. He condensed some
elements from the book and focused on others. Peet completely removed the
characters of Cruella’s husband and cat, a second stolen litter of Dalmatian
puppies and their father, Prince, and merged their mother, Perdita, with Missis
while keeping the former’s name. He also changed the name of the humans from
Dearly to Radcliffe, and one of Cruella’s henchmen from Saul to Horace. Pleased
with the script, Disney prompted Peet to begin storyboarding. Peet sent Smith
some of the material he was working on, and she praised his work stating he had
actually improved her story and the designs looked much better than the book’s
|Pongo, Perdita and a fraction of their puppies.
By this point in the Disney company’s
history, Sleeping Beauty had disappointed
at the box office and Disney himself had grown disenchanted with animation to
the point of contemplating shutting down the animation division. Only nostalgia
and the fact the company was built on it kept it going. This meant Disney was a
lot more hands-off than he had been with previous features and allowed art
Anderson to use a Xerox process Ub Iwerks
had been experimenting with on the film. It let them put drawings directly onto
cells, bypassing the inking process, and allowed them to animate all the dogs
and their spots quickly and for a reduced cost. Disney initially disliked the
look the method gave the film, but over time came to appreciate it.
|Cruella and Nanny.
Although the look of Cruella was
established in the book, Marc
Davis took additional inspiration from Bette Davis,
and her voice actress, Betty
Lou Gerson, in rendering her final design. Her disheveled style
originated from old magazine images of hairstyles from the 1940s. The rest of
the cast was filled by Rod
Taylor as Pongo, Cate Bauer
as Perdita, Ben
Wright as Roger Radcliffe, and Lisa Davis
(who was originally sought for Cruella) as his wife, Anita. Unlike other Disney
animated features, the movie only featured three songs; however additional ones
were written for it by Mel
Dalmatians was released to theaters on January 25, 1961. It quickly became
a box office success with $14 million, pulling the studio out of its financial
slump. The film was re-released in 1969, 1979, 1985 and 1991, bringing its
total box office gross to $215 million. The ’91 release was the 12th-highest
earning domestic film of the year. When it was released to VHS for the first
time in 1992, it became the sixth best-selling video of all time. In 1996,
Disney produced a live-action
remake starring Glenn Close
as Cruella. The film was written by John Hughes
and directed by Stephen
Herek, turning in a $320.6 million box office following its
release on November 27. Unlike the animated version, the dogs didn’t talk but
the vocal effects for Pongo and Perdita were provided by Frank Welker.
|The stars of the show: Roly, Spot, Cadpig and Lucky.
Following the success of the film,
Disney decided to expand on the franchise by producing a new animated series. Walt Disney Television
Animation was paired up with the recently-acquired Jumbo
Pictures to bring the series to life with Jim Jinkins,
Gannaway serving as executive producers. The series marked the
franchise’s return to animation, using the original 1961 designs as a base with
modern flourishes like thicker borders and brighter coloring, as well as some
minor design tweaks. Unlike the original film animated entirely in the United
States, animation duties were doled out to Disney
Animation’s Japan office, Jade
Min Animation, Sun
Woo Animation and Plus One Animation.
|Promotional image featuring Dipstick, Tripod, Two-Tone, Patch and Wizzer, along with the stars.
101 Dalmatians: The
Series took elements from both Disney films and the books in
crafting its universe; although the books presented a greater influence to the
overall tone than the films. The series shifted focus off of Pongo (Kevin Schon
Donovan) and Perdita (Pam Dawber)
and put them on the puppies; specifically the plucky Lucky (Pamela Adlon &
Debi Mae West), who had a horseshoe-shaped spot; Roly Poly (Kath Soucie), whose
obsession with food often led the pups into trouble; and Cadpig (also Soucie),
the runt of the litter and most intelligent of the puppies. Cadpig was a
prominent character in the books, but not in the Disney productions before this
point. Other pups included the fearless three-legged Tripod (Toran Caudell),
the dim-witted Dipstick (Thom
Adcox-Hernandez), the accident-prone Wizzer (Adlon for
one episode, Christine
Cavanaugh the rest of the time), and the fashion diva Two-Tone
|Patch: show (top) vs. films (bottom).
Lucky, Roly and Cadpig were joined by two other pups named Patch and Penny, but
it was feared that there were too many main characters. Penny was dropped from
the show, and Patch was relegated to a minor role voiced by Justin Shenkarow.
Patch would go on to have his own starring feature with the direct-to-video
sequel 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London
2003. The Patch in the show, however, differed from the film version in that he
was heavier and wore a knotted rope collar.
|The pups wrapped up with Cynde.
pups lived on the Dearly Farm (aka the “Dalmatian Plantation”) run by Roger
(Jeff Bennett) and Anita (Soucie), with the help of Nanny (Charlotte Rae).
Roger was also a video game programmer as established in the live movie, which
also marked the return of the original surname from the books. The farm was
populated by a variety of animals, including Spot (Strong), a chicken who hung
out with Lucky, Roly and Cadpig and desperately wanted to be a Dalmatian (she
was added as a last-minute replacement for Patch and Penny); Cornelia (Tress
MacNeille), Spot’s mother who wanted her to act like a chicken; Duchess (Marla Gibbs)
and Princess (April Winchell in two episodes, Cree Summer
for the remainder), two dairy cows; Mayor Ed Pig (Jim Cummings),
the self-appointed leader of the animals; his daughter Dumpling (Cavanaugh),
who was in love with Lucky; Swamp Rat (Bennett), a salesman that lived in the
nearby swamp; Steven the alligator (Welker), Swamp Rat’s associate who wanted
to eat Spot; Lucy (Paddi Edwards),
a goose that got angry whenever the pups played in her pond; Cynde (also
Welker), a snake who hung out with both Swamp Rat and Steven; and the bullying
Sheepdog mix Mooch (Danny
|Lucky with The Colonel and Sergeant Tibbs.
farm was protected by the Bark Brigade, of which Pongo and Perdita were
members. It was headed up by The Colonel (Cummings), a Catalan Sheepdog from
the original movie; his trusted ally, an Abyssinian named Sergeant Tibbs
(Bennett); Captain (Welker), a horse that helped Nanny with her chores; and
Lieutenant Pug (Bennett), a training officer paranoid about a potential feline
|Cruella paying a "visit" to the Dearlys.
(Winchell, with MacNeille handling two episodes) had moved on from fur and
developed a new interest in real estate. She lived next to the farm and
constantly schemed on how to get it away from the Dearlys. Aiding her as always
was Horace and Jasper (David L. Lander and Michael McKean). Cruella also had a
pet ferret, Scorch (Welker), who shared Steve’s appetite for Spot. To diminish
their impact on young viewers, the villains were less menacing and more
bumbling; comically failing in all their attempts against the farm and the
|The Dearly Farm.
101 Dalmatians: The
Series was produced for both syndication and Saturday
mornings. It began airing on September 1st, 1997, before making its
debut as one of the launch programs for ABC’s
Disney’s One Saturday Morning programming block
on September 13th, 1997. It, like all the other programs, were meant
to debut a week early on the 7th, but their broadcast was delayed by
the simulcast of the funeral
of Princess Diana. The Saturday episodes were exclusive to
ABC and were only seen there. The series’ theme was composed by Randy
Quinn and Tim
Heintz, with Mark
Watters and Dan Sawyer
handling the rest of the show’s music.
|Searching for that prosocial message.
show was developed with consultation from Harvard’s Project Zero,
a consortium of child experts that ensured the series upheld the FCC’s
strict mandates of cartoons teaching kids prosocial messages. As a result,
writers were tasked with having to address an issue in each script they
submitted, as well as a solid lesson learned by its conclusion. These elements
were included in the series’ publicity packets leading up to the show’s debut along
with a synopsis of the episode’s story. Cydne
Clark and Steve Granat
served as the show’s supervising story editors, as well as two of its writers.
Other writers included Mirith
J.S. Colao, Ken
Greenberg, amongst others. Gannaway wrote several episodes as
well. The majority of episodes had two segments, and titles with dog-related
|On an adventure.
series ran through its entire 65-episode run within the season; the Saturday
episodes concluding in January of 1998 and the syndicated episodes ending that
March. Reruns continued on ABC until 2000, when it was moved to The Disney Channel
and then Toon
Disney. It gradually stopped airing in various countries
until its last known airing in 2013. The series has yet to be released in its entirety
to home video, with only “A Christmas Cruella” and “Coup de Vil” being put
out on VHS by Buena
Vista Home Entertainment and the three-part “Dalmatian
Vacation” on Video
in the United States, VHS
internationally, and LaserDisc
in Japan. The song “Surf
Puppies” from those episodes was included on the album The Music of Disney’s One Saturday
In 2017 the series became available to stream on
Store and Amazon Prime
Video, with the exception of the episode “Alive N’ Chicken / Prima Doggy”
as the episode was removed from broadcast after the September 11
attacks due to the scene of Spot crashing into a barn. The episode was
finally restored when the entire series was made available on Disney+ in 2020.
Little Golden Books published three books based on the show: the original The Big Dig, the scratch and sniff sticker book Springtime Fun, and the coloring book Hide-and-go-Seek at the Farm. A Disney Chapter book, Cruella Returns, featured an adaptation of the episodes “You Slipped a Disk”, “Leisure Lawsuit” and “Snow Bounders”. In 1998, McDonald’s included flip car racers in their Happy Meals which featured different characters on either side. McDonald’s located in Wal-Mart stores also offered exclusive curly straws. Caldor offered beanbag plush toys of the main characters along with their Sweethearts Candy. In Japan, fans could get branded keychains courtesy of The Disney Channel.