This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Disney animated classic '101 Dalmatians.'
If you've somehow forgotten, the 1961 movie focuses on Pongo and Perdita, two proud Dalmatian parents, and their search for their 15 puppies, who have been kidnapped by the nasty Cruella De Vil.
De Vil wants to skin the dogs for her luxurious new fur coat but gets no help from her bumbling sidekicks, Jasper and Horace. Along their adventure, Pongo and Perdy team up with a countryside full of farm animals, rescue 84 additional stray Dalmatian pups, and return to the home of their owners, the Radcliffes, with a family in the triple digits.
You may think you know everything about the beloved family film, but did you know about the dogs' alien adventures or their connection to the rock band Styx? With sequels, TV shows, remakes and a stage show under its belt, '101 Dalmatians' has amassed a long and impressive history, full of surprising nuggets of trivia.
In celebration of the film's 50th anniversary, we present you with 101 things you didn't know about '101 Dalmatians.' But first, refresh your memory by watching a trailer for the classic movie.
1. Technically, the official title is 'One Hundred and One Dalmatians,' but since it's a chore to write that out, it often gets shortened to '101 Dalmatians.'
2. The film is based on the 1956 book 'The Hundred and One Dalmatians' by English novelist Dodie Smith.
3. Dodie Smith herself was the proud owner of nine Dalmatians, including one named Pongo.
4. At one point, Pongo did have a litter of 15 puppies. One of them was stillborn, but Smith's husband managed to revive it.
5. Smith was inspired to write the book after a friend told her "Those dogs would make a lovely fur coat."
6. Smith's story was first serialized in 'Ladies' Home Journal' as 'The Great Dog Robbery.'
7. In the book, Pongo and Perdita are not the parents of the puppies. In the book, the couple is Pongo and Missis Pongo; Perdita is a stray, who had her puppies sold away, and she becomes the wet nurse for Missis' 15 pups.
8. Perdita's long-lost love is named Prince.
9. In 1967, Smith published 'The Starlight Brigade,' a sequel.
10. In 'The Starlight Brigade,' the Dalmatian family teams up with a few strays and some "honorary dogs" (aka cats) to investigate the mystery of why every human in the country -- including their owners, the Dearlys, and Cruella De Vil -- has fallen into a deep sleep, unable to wake up.
11. Then they are visited by Sirius, Lord of the Dog Star, an extraterrestrial dog who appears as the breed of whatever dog is speaking to him.
12. He explains that he has come to Earth to rescue all dogs from the threat of nuclear war and owner abuse, by taking them to outer space with him.
13. A council of dogs, led by Pongo, must deliberate on whether to leave the planet or not.
14. They decide to remain on Earth. To ensure their safety, Sirius has all pets returned safely to their owners and gets every stray dog into the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
15. Battersea is the United Kingdom's oldest animal shelter. Established in 1860, the shelter survives entirely on public donations; it took in almost $20 million in 2009.
16. One reason Smith wrote the sequel is because Walt Disney kept sending her letters urging her to make more Dalmatian stories they could adapt.
17. '101 Dalmatians' has the distinction of being the first animated Disney film to take place in a contemporary setting.
18. A newspaper gag in the film about Captain Henrik Kurt Carlsen and the Flying Enterprise freighter, which sank into the Atlantic, places the movie's events in 1952.
19. Getting 'Dalmatians' made into a movie was not easy; Disney was undergoing a budget crisis after their previous film, 'Sleeping Beauty,' had been deemed a commercial failure.
20. Prior to the production of this movie, Disney's animation staff had been cut from over 500 to less than 100 animators.
21. Production was finally made possible due to the development of Xerography.
22. Xerography-based animation was developed when legendary Ub Iwerks began experimenting with Xerox photography. In 1959, he developed a Xerox camera that could transfer animator's drawings directly to cells, forgoing the need for inking.
23. The xerography style resulted in hard, scratchy outlines on the final drawings, which then forced Disney animators to change the look of their characters from softer and rounder to more angular and stylized.
24. This new style became the Disney standard, used all the way up until 1977's 'The Rescuers,' when updated technology allowed them to change the look.
25. Walt Disney reportedly disliked the Xerox-based style.
26. Still, the Xerox technique allowed the film to come in on budget.
27. All of the moving cars in the movie are based on live-action footage of cars painted black and white.
28. Then they were Xeroxed onto animation cells and re-colored.
29. Animators painted all the Dalmatian spots by treating them as constellations, forming a fixed pattern design.
30. Pongo sports 72 spots, Perdita sports 68, and each of the 99 puppies has exactly 32 spots.
31. For the movement of dogs in background shots, animators created a handful of animation loops and Xeroxed them in differing sizes and directions.
32. Individually animating each of the 101 Dalmatians would have more than doubled the film's cost.
33. Due to a continuity goof, the final scene of the movie features more than 101 Dalmatians; there's at least 150 animated spotted dogs in the background.
34. Walt Disney hired actors to perform live-action scenes of all the human characters to serve as a reference for the animators and to find out if those scenes were feasible to animate.
35. The animators didn't like working this way; they thought it limited their creativity.
36. Traditionally, Disney's top team of animators -- known collectively as "the Nine Old Men" -- each animated a single lead character for the entire movie. This was the first production where they teamed up on characters together.
37. Seven of the nine animated Perdita.
38. The only one of the Nine Old Men who worked on his own individual character was Marc Davis, who animated Cruella De Vil.
39. Cruella De Vil's look and personality was inspired by manic Golden Age actress Tallulah Bankhead.
40. Bankhead had caused a scandal in 1932 when she told 'Motion Picture Magazine': "I haven't had an affair for six months. Six months! Too long ... If there's anything the matter with me now, it's not Hollywood or Hollywood's state of mind. The matter with me is I want a man. Six months is a long, long while. I want a man!"
41. Another one of her famous quotes: "There have been only two geniuses in the world: Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, darling, I think you'd better put Shakespeare first."
42. Tallulah Bankhead's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.
43. Cruella was ranked 31st on the American Film Institute's List of 100 Greatest On-Screen Heroes and Villains.
44. In Italy, she is known as "Crudelia De Mon" -- a play off the word "demon." In France, she is known as "Cruella D'Enfer" -- meaning "From Hell."
45. Synth-metal band Deadsy wrote a tribute song to her entitled, 'Cruella.'
46. The thunder that claps when she first appears is a sound effect from 'Bambi.'
47. Cruella was voiced not by Bankhead but by actress Betty Lou Gerson; she was honored as a "Disney Legend" in 1996.
48. After Gerson retired from showbiz, she used her voice for a telephone answering service at her husband's company.
49. The film was different from previous Disney films in that it featured only three songs, just one of which -- Cruella's theme song -- was performed in its entirety. Several more songs were composed by Mel Leven that have never been heard.
50. Captain the Horse (the equine friend of Tibbs the Cat and Colonel the Sheepdog) is voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft. You might know Thurl as the voice of Tony the Tiger, and as the uncredited singer of 'You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.'
51. Clarence Nash -- who famously voiced Donald Duck -- provided all the dog barks used in the movie.
52. J. Pat O'Malley provides the voices of the Colonel and Jasper, meaning when they come face to face with each other, O'Malley is talking to himself.
53. This is the first Disney animated feature to be credited to one writer: Bill Peet, who also helped write: 'The Jungle Book,' 'The Sword in the Stone,' 'Sleeping Beauty,' 'Peter Pan,' 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'Cinderella,' 'Mickey and the Beanstalk,' 'Song of the South,' 'The Three Caballeros,' 'Dumbo,' 'Fantasia' and 'Pinocchio.'
54. Lady, the Tramp, Jock, Peg and Bull from 1955's 'Lady and the Tramp' all make cameos during the "Twilight Bark" sequence.
55. Roger Dearly and Pongo make a cameo in Disney's Dickens-by-way-of-canines 1988 hit, 'Oliver & Company.'
56. '101 Dalmatians' was released on Jan. 25, 1961.
57. The film premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
58. The movie maintains a 97 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
59. 'Dalmatians' became the 10th-highest-grossing film of 1961, earning $6,400,000 domestically that year.
60. It was re-released in theaters in January 1969, June 1979, December 1985, and July 1991.
61. The 1991 re-release brought in $60 million and was the 20th-highest-grossing movie of the year.
62. Over its lifetime of theatrical screenings, it has amassed a worldwide box office take of $215,880,014.
63. Adjusted for inflation, its roughly $145 million domestic draw equates to $794 million, good for 11th on the all-time list, according to Box Office Mojo. This even puts it ahead of 'Avatar' in terms of total number of tickets sold.
64. The film was released on VHS on April 10, 1992, as part of the "Walt Disney Classics" video series.
65. Then, it was re-released on video tape on March 9, 1999, as part of the "Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection" video series.
66. Then, it was released on DVD on Dec. 19, 1999, as part of the "Disney's Limited Issue" DVD series.
67. Then, it was released on DVD for a second time, on March 4, 2008, as part of the "Walt Disney Platinum Edition" two-disc DVD series.
68. There is no official release date yet for the release of the film as part of the "Walt Disney Diamond Edition" three-disc DVD/Blu-ray Combo series.
69. The movie is officially out of the "Disney Vault" for the time being, but once it returns to its fortified holding cell, it will not be available for sale at any commercial outlets for a minimum of seven years.
70. Selena Gomez performed 'Cruella De Vil' for a bonus music video, included on the Platinum Edition DVD.
71. During the first VHS release, a large number of tie-in merchandise was sold to the public with the misspelling "Dalmations."
72. The movie got an official sequel 40 years later on Jan. 21, 2003, with the direct-to-video/DVD film '101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure.' It was not based on Smith's 'The Starlight Brigade.'
73. In the new story, puppy Patch is accidentally left behind during a Dalmatian relocation. He finds his family with the help of Thunderbolt, a canine television star. Think 'Home Alone' meets 'Bolt.'
74. 'Patch's London Adventure' was re-released on Sept. 16, 2008, as a special-edition DVD.
75. In 1996, 'Dalmatians' was remade as a live-action modern-day film. The official title this time around, was simply '101 Dalmatians.'
76. In the remake, Jeff Daniels' Roger Dearly is a struggling video-game designer, instead of a struggling jazz songwriter, and the Dalmatians cannot talk.
77. Glenn Close portrays the iconic Cruella De Vil, while Hugh Laurie stars as her bumbling henchman Jasper. The film was written and produced by John Hughes.
78. The 1996 version used 20 adult Dalmatians and 230 puppies.
79. Glenn Close's first day on set in the full Cruella costume genuinely scared the dog playing Perdita.
80. In order to get the puppies to lick him on cue, crew members had to rub raw hot dogs on Jeff Daniels' face.
81. John Hughes' contract for this movie allowed him to gain a cut of the merchandising profits.
82. Over 17,000 pieces of merchandise were made for the film.
83. Not surprisingly, then, '101 Dalmatians' turned out to be John Hughes' most profitable writing assignment.
84. The 1996 version grossed over $320 million worldwide, but has received a "rotten" rating of 41 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
85. That movie's success led to the November 2000 sequel, '102 Dalmatians.' Even though Close was the only star to return, the installment still grossed over $183 million worldwide.
86. One of the characters in '102 Dalmatians' is Oddball, a completely spotless dalmatian. The puppy-actor's spots had to be digitally removed, one by one, by a team of 55 computer artists.
87. A spin-off animated series, '101 Dalmatians: The Series,' was launched in September of 1997, as part of the Disney Afternoon syndicated block, and blends elements of the original novel, the animated feature and the live-action remake.
88. The TV show stars three puppies in the lead: Lucky the leader, Rolly the fat one (he's smart, too!) and New Age-y sister Cadpig. The trio, along with their brothers, sisters and farm animal friends, contend once again with Cruella De Vil, who has now become a corporate villain.
89. The dogs have been the stars of two video games: '101 Dalmatians: Escape from De Vil Manor' for the PC, and '102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue' for the Sega Dreamcast and Sony Playstation. Both games mash-up the animated and live-action versions.
90. The canine family also appears in the wildly successful original 'Kingdom Hearts' game. Pongo and Perdita ask Sora to help locate their 99 puppies, which have been lost among the worlds of the universe since their home planet was destroyed by darkness.
91. According to the 'Kingdom Hearts' wiki: "It is not a requirement to find all of the puppies in 'Kingdom Hearts,' but doing so yields various rewards, which includes unlocking the secret ending, an Aero upgrade, as well as a full Gummi Block collection." We have no idea what that means.
92. In 2009, Purina Dog Chow sponsored a live theatrical musical based on Dodie Smith's original novel; first premiered at Minneapolis's Orpheum Theater, before embarking on a national tour that culminated with a 2010 engagement at Madison Square Garden.
93. 'The 101 Dalmatians Musical' featured lyrics from Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung, 15 actual Dalmatians and simulated dog perspective via the use of stilts.
94. The production received mixed reviews.
95. Dalmatian breeds have experienced a continuous boost in domestic popularity since the movie phenomenon began.
96. Dalmatians are active dogs that require a large amount of outdoor activity. Their loyal and athletic dispositions have made them ideal for rescue and guarding.
97. Unfortunately, many Dalmatian owners are undereducated about proper breeding responsibilities. Because many homes are not capable of raising such high-energy dogs, massive numbers of Dalmatians have been abandoned to animal shelters.
98. Many Dalmatian rescue organizations have arisen to take care of unwanted Dalmatians and find proper housing for them.
99. The breed of dogs originated in the Dalmatia region of the Republic of Croatia, then were brought to England. They served as guard dogs and guides for horses and firefighters.
100. There are 113,760 frames of film in the original '101 Dalmatians.'
101. The final tally of Dalmatian spots in all those frames of film: 6,469,952.
Buy or rent '101 Dalmatians' today!