The Disney animated movie One Hundred and One Dalmatians was released in 1961, and it has since become a Disney classic years after.1
It recorded a massive success and prompted a live-action adaptation in 1996 when it became 101 Dalmatians.2
It has since left its mark in the sands of Disney history. The Dalmatian breed owes its popularity to this movie.
Last year marked the 60th anniversary of 101 Dalmatians, and out of nostalgia, many surprising facts popped up. Some of these facts were lost in time, and it is beautiful to see them resurface.
They are entertaining and educative and also help us appreciate how much work goes into creative work.
Want to know some of these interesting and fun facts about 101 Dalmatians? Read on.
Surprising Facts About 101 Dalmatians
1. Ever wondered how many spots are in the movie? Over 6 million!
According to those who took the liberty of counting, there are exactly 6,469,952 spots over 113,760 frames.
If they had renamed the movie “Spots,” it probably would have suited it. The character Pongo has 72 spots, and Perdita has 68.3
2. From the start, 101 Dalmatians were innovative
We say innovative not just because of the crazy number of spots but due to the technology used.
According to the Walt Disney archives, 101 Dalmatians was made using the Xerox process, and it was the first Disney film to use that and animate the drawings.
Xerox was responsible for the “sketchy” manner the animations appeared.
3. How many names do you remember from the movie?
If you do claim to remember a lot, then you’re lying. There weren’t many names in the movie, and not all the Dalmatian pups had one—frankly, that would have been unnecessary.
Out of the 15 pups of Pongo and Perdita, only 6 had names. They were Lucky, Rolly, Patch, Penny, Pepper, and Freckles.
4. Critics loved 101 Dalmatians
Not all, of course, but an overwhelming majority of 98% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave positive reviews.4
The audience score was 76%, which is still considered excellent.
It fared better than the live-action remake, which got a 41% from critics and 40% from the audience.5
5. The animated movie was inspired by a book
The book was titled The Hundred and One Dalmatians. It was written in 1956 by Dodie Smith, whose full name is Dorothy Gladys Smith.
She was an English playwright and novelist, also known to have written other works like I Capture the Castle and Dear Octopus.
6. Is 101 Dalmation a true story?
Dodie Smith owned a Dalmatian named Podie, among other Dalmatians she had. Podie gave birth to 15 puppies, the exact event that also happened in the movie.
Dodie stated that she got inspired to write the novel after one of her friends saw the Dalmatians and casually remarked, “Those dogs would make a lovely fur coat.”6
7. This movie saved Disney
Before the first release of 101 Dalmatian, Disney put out Sleeping Beauty in the 1950s.
While everyone would consider Sleeping Beauty a success now, at the start, it wasn’t so.
The movie was a flop, ran Disney into debt, and nearly made them give up on animated movies altogether. The success of 101 Dalmatian was a revival for Disney.
8. The voice actor who did the dog barks was Clarence Nash
The name Clarence Nash may not mean much to you until you go through his story and realize that he lent his voice to the famous Donald Duck.
Nash died on February 20, 1985 (aged 80), and was made a Disney Legend for his work.
9. There’s a book sequel for 101 Dalmatian
While it wasn’t adapted into a movie, Dodie Smith wrote a sequel to the first book. It was titled The Starlight Barking and had a plot that was quite different from the first novel.
While the movie has two sequels (101 Dalmatian II: Patch’s London Adventure and 102 Dalmatians), none of them resembled that of the book.
10. The movie was a dream come true
Both Walt Disney and Dodie Smith saw opportunities in the movie.
When Walt Disney first came across the book, he didn’t hesitate to seek rights for adaptation. That was exactly what Dodie Smith wanted.
11. The voice behind Cruella De Vil wasn’t a novice
Her name was Betty Lou Gerson, and she was a radio star but also worked in films and animated movies.
Betty Lou Gerson was the narrator of Cinderella, and she became a Disney Legend for her role in making Cruella come to life. She died in 1999.
12. Characters from the movie Lady and the Tramp made an appearance
If you weren’t paying close attention while watching, you probably missed them.
During a scene famously known as the “Twilight Bark scene,” many characters from Lady and the Tramp were there. These include Jock, Peg, and even Lady and the Tramp themselves.
13. How Cruella came to be
The man behind the creation of Cruella was Marc Davis, the same person who made Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty.
He intended to make Cruella a modern-day villain, different from Maleficent.
Marc Davis and his wife once attended a party and met an acquaintance whose behavior was a good muse for a Disney villain.
Davis and his wife never mentioned the name of the acquaintance.7
That said, the mysterious woman wasn’t the only muse for Cruella—though she was the foundation.
Some actresses served as inspiration for Cruella, notably Bette Davis, Rosalind Russell, and Tallulah Bankhead.
14. The 101 Dalmatian inspired a spin-off
Besides having two sequels and the live-action remake, Disney released a spin-off named Cruella in 2021, 60 years after the animated movie.
Cruella was a live-action film starring actress Emma Stone who played the role of Cruella De Vil as we get to see her story.
15. 101 Dalmatian was the highest-grossing film of 1961
We’ve mentioned that 101 Dalmatian was a success, but just to be clear, its success was a huge one.
The animated topped the list of grossing films in 1961, trumping other movies like The Parent Side and Gone With the Wind.
It made over $102,000,000, with over 140,000,000 tickets sold.8
16. The dogs weren’t black and white
While Dalmatians’ common color is black and white, the doggy characters in the animated movie were grey and white.
Rather than solid white paint, the animators used light grey paint. This was to make the dogs stay visible even in scenes involving snow.
White paint would have made it harder to see the dogs in the snow.
17. For the live-action, Glenn Close initially turned down being Cruella.
A simple Google search will bring out Glenn Close as the actress that starred as Cruella in the live-action remake.
However, the first time producers approached her to take on the role, she had her hands full with a Broadway show.
Another actress that declined was Sigourney Weaver, who had another movie in mind.
Actress Cathy Moriarty tried getting the role, but Disney deemed her too scary for a kid’s movie.
18. The animated movie used a lot of colors
It was revealed that a total of 1,000 shades of paint were used for the animated movie.
Considering the number of spots alone, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
19. Cruella’s furs in the live-action remake were all fake
While it seemed otherwise in the movie, no real animal fur was used. Glenn Close was the one that insisted on this.
20. Glenn Close as Cruella was so real that the dogs on set got frightened
It was reported that when Glenn Close came on set with the makeup, wig, and costume, the Dalmatian dogs used to act were frightened. Some even tried sneaking away.
21. There was something slightly different in the wedding scene of the animated movie
There was a scene where Roger and Anita exchanged vows alongside the dogs Pongo and Perdita.
During the preparatory stage, Disney’s censor board warned not to use the exact wedding vows repeated at churches to avoid offending the religious audience. Thus, the wedding was made to be less religious.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is it called 101 Dalmatians if there are only 15?
The main dog characters, Pongo and Perdita, had only 15 pups.
However, when they went to rescue their puppies, they found a lot more that were gotten from pet shops. Altogether, they were up to 101.
What was Cruella’s name?
Cruella’s real name is Estella von Hellman, which was evident in the spinoff when the character first started with the name Estella.
In the storyline, it was established that Cruella and Anita were schoolmates and may have been friends at a point. In the 2021 spinoff, this same relationship was shown.
Is Cruella a prequel to 101 Dalmatians?
While the movie Cruella stands on its own and focuses on the villain character Cruella, it does have a connection to 101 Dalmatian. In that sense, it can be said to be a prequel.
Disney has remained consistent for years, serving us with a lot of entertaining animated and live-action movies.
101 Dalmatians remains one of the best-animated dog movies ever made.
With Cruella 2 already in the works, we might be visiting the world of Dalmatians and eccentric designers a lot more.
If you enjoyed reading these fun facts about 101 Dalmatians, you might also enjoy our article on 10 Ways Disney’s Cruella And 101 Dalmatians Are Related.
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References & Notes:
- IMDB, 1961. “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055254/.
- IMDB, 1996. “101 Dalmatians,” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115433/.
- D23. “Painting of Spots Huge Job in Producing Disney’s Dalmatians,” https://d23.com/painting-of-spots-huge-job-in-producing-disneys-dalmatians/.
- Rotten Tomatoes, 1961. “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/101_dalmatians.
- Rotten Tomatoes, 1996. “101 Dalmatians,” https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1074108-101_dalmatians.
- IMDB, Trivia, “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0055254/trivia.
- Jim Hill, HuffPost, 3 Feb. 2015. “When It Comes to Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, the ‘de Vil’ Is in the Details,” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/when-it-comes-to-disneys_b_6606834.
- The Numbers. “North America (US and Canada) Domestic Movie Chart for 1961,” https://www.the-numbers.com/market/1961/top-grossing-movies.