Cruella de Vil
|Cruella de Vil|
|First appearance||The Hundred and One Dalmatians (1956)|
|Created by||Dodie Smith|
|Portrayed by||Glenn Close (101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians)
Rachel York (Broadway musical)
Sara Gettelfinger (Musical, after York)
|Voiced by||Betty Lou Gerson (One Hundred and One Dalmatians)
April Winchell (TV Series and 101 Dalmatians: Escape from DeVil Manor)
Susanne Blakeslee (Disney's House of Mouse, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure and 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue)
|Aliases||Ella de Vil (only in 102 Dalmatians)|
Cruella de Vil is a fictional character and the antagonist of Dodie Smith's 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Disney's 1961 animated film adaptation One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and Disney's live-action film adaptations 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians. In all her incarnations, Cruella kidnaps Dalmatian puppies for their fur. In the live-action version, it is revealed that the reason Cruella chooses to skin puppies is that when short-haired dogs grow older, their fur becomes very coarse, which does not sell as well in the fur fashion industry as the fine, soft fur of puppies.
Cruella's name is a pun of the words cruel and devil to turn them into a French-sounding woman's name, an allusion which is emphasized by having her country house nicknamed "Hell Hall". In some translations, Cruella De Vil is known as "Cruella De Mon" to change the play on the word "devil" to one on "demon" because the word "devil" in some languages does not have a clear meaning. An example is Italy, where she is called "Crudelia De Mon" (a pun on "crudele", cruel, and "demone", demon). In the French translation of the Disney's animated movie, she is referred as "Cruella D'Enfer" (Literally, Cruella of Hell or from Hell). In Spanish her last name has been left as De Vil, but is not similar to their equivalent of devil, it is taken to be a play on their equivalent of "vile" or "villain".
The Hundred and One Dalmatians novel 
In the original story, Cruella is a pampered and glamorous London heiress who knows the owner of the Dalmatian puppies through school, though it is mentioned that they were not friends. Her net wealth as mentioned in The One Hundred and One Dalmatians is £6 million. She was a menacing student with black and white plaits. She was later expelled for drinking ink. Now she is the last of her prosperous and notorious family and married to a furrier who supplies her obsession, such as the one piece she is never seen without; a white mink cloak. With this, she wears skin-tight satin gowns and ropes of jewels in contrasting colours, such as an emerald colour dress with ropes of rubies. Her chauffeur-driven car is black-and-white striped (Mr. Dearly comments that it looks like "a moving zebra crossing") and has the loudest horn in London, which she insists on displaying to the Dearly family.
When she has guests for dinner, all of Cruella's food is strange colours and tastes of pepper (alluding to her quick temper). She constantly stokes a roaring fire and complains of being cold despite the elevated temperature. The flat is portrayed as a sort of luxurious version of Hell and sets up Cruella's "devilish" persona for her later crimes. Her guests also meet her abused white Persian cat, which plays a key role in a later part of the story.
When invited to a dinner party held by the Dearly couple, Cruella expresses her sinister interest in the Dalmatians, remarking how she and her henpecked husband have never thought of making clothing from dog pelt before. Yet seeing the spotless skins of the newborn puppies she is revolted and offers to have them drowned at once; her way of getting rid of animals which she views as worthless, including her own cat's kittens. Upon a second visit to the house she picks up the mature puppies and treats them like clothing to be worn.
Cruella also makes a brief appearance, albeit asleep, in Dodie Smith's sequel, The Starlight Barking.
The 1961 movie 
In Disney's version of the movie, Cruella has become rich with a big collection of fur coats and has become rude and spoiled with her wealth. She makes fun of Anita and her husband Roger for making a living off of songs (Roger is a musician and spends most of his time performing on piano). Cruella desires to make a fur coat from the dalmatians but learning that the dalmatians will not be born in 3 weeks, leaves with the promise to return by then. She does indeed return after three weeks on a dark stormy night and sees that the dalmatians are born, and is at first dismayed to find them completely spotless but cheers up when Anita tells her that the spots would grow in a few weeks. Cruella makes an offer to buy the puppies, all the while mocking Roger for his song-writing career and splattering Roger and Pongo with ink from her pen. However, when Roger firmly states that the puppies are not for sale, she furiously ends her friendship with Anita and storms out, vowing vengeance. Months later, two thieves named Horace and Jasper successfully steal the puppies when the Radcliffes are out. While Cruella was questioned about the theft, the police were unable to find anything against her, and Anita does not want to charge her, despite Roger's doubts. However, as the days fly by, the police still suspect her so she drives towards her old mansion Hell Hall at Suffolk where Horace and Jasper and the puppies reside, proving that she was the mastermind behind the theft. She demands that the henchmen make her dalmatian fur coats in one night before furiously leaving the house. The next morning, Cruella learns that the puppies have escaped the house and she shouts at Horace and Jasper for reckless driving despite it being obvious that SHE is more terrible at driving than them. She demands that they find the puppies before driving off. The next day on Christmas Eve, Cruella and the two henchmen realize that the puppies have fled to Dinsford and begin searching there. While driving her car across town, she sees black puppies waking past her into a van, learning at the last second that they are the dalmatian puppies as the van leaves. She immdediately pursues the van and tries to knock it off the road, half-wrecking her car in the process, only to be cut off by Horace and Jasper in their vain attempt to knock down the truck with the puppies. The three villains fall down a steep mountain and land in the cold snow in a mess of debris. Cruella, furious about losing, cries over the loss of her wanted fur coat as she watches the van with the puppies leave in the distance and Jasper finally plucks up the courage to tell her to shut up before being arrested and taken to prison (according to the commentary) with her henchmen. It is then presumed with their arrests that Anita finally realized that Cruella did betray them and both Anita and Roger finally pressed charges against Cruella for stealing their puppies.
In the ending as Roger and Anita mourn both losing the puppies and failing to report the evidence for Cruella's involvement with the theft of the puppies it is revealed Roger's song Cruella De Vil has become a big hit to the globe and they have become wealthy (Ironically the opposite of Cruella mocking Roger for making a living off of songs believing they would not be as wealthy as her with the music); the puppies return and they celebrate their victory over Cruella by writing a new song about having a dalmatian plantation in the country in the future.
Animated films 
Disney's animated version of Cruella first appeared in 1960's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, in which she was voiced by Betty Lou Gerson and animated by Marc Davis who together crafted her into an iconic and memorable character. Disney based his version of Cruella on the personality and mannerisms of Tallulah Bankhead. The cool detachment of the original character was replaced by a crazed mania, in which Cruella only barely clung to a sheen of glamour. Anita comments Cruella's above mentioned fur coat is new when Cruella first appears. For unexplained reasons, Cruella's cat and husband were omitted from the Disney version. Cruella drives a very distinctive automobile, coloured red and black, resembling a 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom.
The film featured a song, written by Mel Leven, using her name as the title, sung by the dalmatians' owner Roger (Bill Lee), who holds the woman in contempt. The lyric begins with: "Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil. If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will..."
In the ending. She is now driven insane and sent her to Asylum and Jasper and Horace are been pardoned they told Roger, Anita and Nanny that it was Cruella who made them do it and is the thief.
Disney considered reusing Cruella as the villain for The Rescuers, but decided against it because they did not want to make it a sequel to an otherwise unrelated film. Cruella eventually returned in the 2003 direct-to-video sequel 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, where she was voiced by Susanne Blakeslee. Blakeslee also voiced Cruella in the 2001 TV series Disney's House of Mouse, which featured a running gag in which she inspects dogs from other Disney films with a measuring ruler. Cruella appears in animation one more time in the 2008 film Disney's Christmas Favorites during the segment "Santa Cruella". Cruella is also one of the Disney Villains Mickey fights in Disney's Hollywood Studios version of Fantasmic! Nighttime Show Spectacular in Walt Disney World. In Disney On Ice play 'Celebrations', Cruella De Vil was one of the Villains who appears during the Halloween Party.
From the unsubtle symbolic name to her hideous physical appearance, the evil of Cruella De Vil is overt. In 2002, Forbes ranked Cruella as the thirteenth wealthiest fiction character, citing the single 65-year-old has a net worth of $875 million, obtained through inheritance  Cruella was listed as the 39th greatest villain in American cinema in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains. Also, in Ultimate Disney's Top 30 Disney Villains Countdown, Cruella ranked #6.
Live-action films 
Glenn Close portrayed Cruella de Vil as the main antagonist in the 1996 film 101 Dalmatians and its 2000 sequel 102 Dalmatians. The film reinvented Cruella yet again, this time as the spoiled and very glamorous magnate of a couture fashion house, "House of De Vil", which specialised in fur couture. The character of Anita (played by Joely Richardson) was a couturière and employee of De Vil. Unlike the animated film, the live-action version gives the reason why Cruella wanted to make the puppies into coats at a young age, is that because their fur wouldn't be as soft when they're full grown adult dogs. This film increased the physical comedy of the animated film, even veering into more juvenille humor, such as Cruella falling into a vat of old molasses. She ends the film covered in a mixture of molasses and mud. Close's performance was universally well-received, and her sex appeal as the character was also credited.
The live-action film was not as critically successful as the animated movie, but Close's performance, as well as her costumes, by Anthony Powell and Rosemary Burrows, received appreciative attention, including a spread in Vanity Fair. Claws were applied to gloves, and necklaces were made from teeth, to add to the idea that Cruella enjoyed wearing parts of dead animals. Nails were also projected from the heels to make them especially vicious in appearance. Some of her clothes were made out of leather or PVC, and Cruella always wore lots of makeup. Close has commented on how demanding the slapstick physicality of the role was while wearing nail-heeled boots and corsets. She was always smoking to give the appearance of a mysterious "villain". Close also insisted that she fall into the molasses herself for genuine acting, as opposed to delegating it to a stunt double.
In 102 Dalmatians, while under effect of Dr. Ivan Pavlov's hypnotherapy treatment, Cruella was cured of her evil habits and released from prison on parole, three years after the events of the first film. She insisted on being called "Ella" because "Cruella sounds so ... cruel". Completely devoted to saving animals and while experiencing "doraphobia", she was scared by even the smallest sight of fur fashion, especially since she had all of her fur clothing and the drawing of herself in a Dalmatian puppy coat boarded up. Unfortunately, this new persona was not to last for long, since the effects of Big Ben's chimes managed to undo the conditioning, reverting Cruella to her former self. During the "Ella" stage, Cruella quit her characteristic habits, such as wearing fur clothing, long nails, extravagant hair styles, and of course, smoking. Once Big Ben jolted her brain waves back into Cruella, her old habits returned. At the end of the movie, she was baked into a massive cake and arrested once again; this time sentenced to life in prison, and her entire fortune went to 2nd Chance Dog Shelter.
Animated series 
In the 101 Dalmatians animated series, Cruella was voiced by April Winchell and was based on Glenn Close's portrayal from the live-action film, but with Betty Lou Gerson's design from the animated film. She is not seen wearing clothes made out of animals, nor smoked (although in the episode "Smoke Detectors" she did) and is totally sane. Her villainous plot in the show was to steal the Dearlys' farm from them, and using the puppies as a ransom, mainly because the old widow Smedly would not sell it to her and that her mother Malevola demands it. She is an archetypal corporate villain who will seize on any scheme to make money, including drilling oil from the swamp near Dearly farm (thereby polluting it), buying Kanine Krunchies and replacing the nutritious ingredients with sawdust and chalk or sending Jasper and Horace to drive out the owners of Mom and Pop's Grocery Store so she can buy it herself.
In the Christmas episode, "A Christmas Cruella", since she was a child, Cruella wanted a dalmatian puppy, but her parents always go on vacations, leaving her with a foreign nanny and clothes for gifts. During her teens, was the final straw which gave her her half white hairline in her fury (earlier, she is seen with all black hair and a slight gray-ish streak). Her miserable childhood is what drove her to evil.
The series is also the first time Cruella uses seduction as one of her evil schemes. In the series finale, she uses an inflatable body suit to disguise herself as a sexy blonde bikini surfer to seduce Roger to make Anita think he is cheating on her so they will split up and she can get the farm. When Anita goes swimming, she makes her move on him. She asks him to go swimming with her and then tries to kiss him, but her suit is deflated by the puppies' chicken friend, and she turns into a surfboard.
Broadway musical 
Cruella also appears as the primary antagonist in the Broadway musical based on the novel. The character was portrayed by Rachel York; however, the actress announced on her blog that she had stepped down from the role of Cruella de Vil to pursue other projects. The role has been taken over by Sara Gettelfinger.
In popular culture 
Cruella de Vil has become one of the most recognizable literary and film villains, and as such as featured prominently in popular culture:
The Queen song "Let Me Entertain You" features the lyrics "I'll Cruella de Vil You!"
The Children 18:3 song "The Cruel One" is about 101 Dalmatians and mentions Cruella de Vil by name in the chorus.
The Deadsy song "Cruella" is written about Cruella de Vil to honor her memory because of the fact that she was shot by a mysterious assassin in "Who Shot Cruella De Vil?" [Part 1].
The Spanish singer Alaska made a cover of song "Cruella de Vil" for the 101 Dalmatians Live-action film Spanish version.
Teen singer and actress Selena Gomez redid the song, based on the song from Disney's 101 Dalmatians.
An inflatable representation of the character made an appearance in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London alongside Lord Voldemort, The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook and Child Catcher to commemorate the significance of children's literature to British culture.
In Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, a tabloid once published a story accusing Lois Lane of cheating on her husband Clark Kent with Superman. Lois commented she was under Cruella on the popularity scale.
In The Simpsons episode "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds", Mr. Burns plays the role of Cruella De Vil, who was authentically assassinated, but unlike her in the movies, where she steals the dalmatian puppies to make them into fur coats, he steals Santa's Little Helper and his girlfriend's greyhound puppies to make them into a tuxedo. And unlike Cruella, who has no hesitation in killing the puppies, Burns cannot bear to kill the puppies himself because they are too cute. Declaring that he will never kill any animal that can perform good tricks again, Burns pays the Simpsons for the puppies, and he trains them to be world-class racing dogs.
Coco LaBouche from 2000's Rugrats in Paris is a parody of Cruella.
- "100 Heroes and Villains: List Downloads page". AFI.com.
- Disney Christmas Favourites.
- Michael A Baldassare (1999). Can Someone Named "Cruella" Ever Act in Good Faith. "Cruella de Vil, Hades, and Ursula the Sea-Witch: How Disney Films Teach Our Children the Basics of Contract Law". Drake Law Review 48 (2): 351–356.
- "The Forbes Fictional Fifteen". www.forbes.com. 2002-09-13. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
- "Ultimate Disney's Top 30 Disney Villains Countdown 10th - 1st Place". www.ultimatedisney.com.
- Preston, Rohan (October 14, 2009). "'The 101 Dalmatians': A Canine Caper". Star Tribune. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- York, Rachel (January 30, 2010). "Parting Is Truly Such Sweet Sorrow". Retrieved February 1, 2010.
- "Lady Gaga smothers herself in fake blood as she transforms into gun-toting Cruella de Vil". Daily Mail (London). November 1, 2010.
- Cruella de Vil at the Internet Movie Database
- Cruella de Vil at the UltimateDisney.com Villains Countdown
- Cruella de Vil at the Disney Archives