(Portrait) Cruella: A Villain in the spotlight

She has no magic powers. She isn’t trying to take over the world. She could be just another woman. But her extraordinary personality makes her one of the most unforgettable, deliciously shocking Disney Villains! 

Cruella is back for the Disney Halloween Festival. And she has no intention of sticking to the shadows!

En 1958, Mel Leven, the composer of 101 Dalmatians, wrote The Creation of Cruella De Vil – a song that remains unreleased to this day. It tells the story of nine witches doing black magic in an abandoned cemetery. Then Cruella appears, and with a single glance she makes them all die of fear. There’s no need for magic powers when you naturally inspire that kind of terror!


In truth, Cruella is a different kind of villain. For her, being wicked is not a mindset. It’s a genuine character trait. Look at how she appears in the Disney Villains Lair. For Cruella, “horrific” rhymes with “chic”, and her entrance is straight out of the catwalk! 

Her cartoonist, the legendary Marc Davis, drew his inspiration from the iconic 1920s Hollywood star Tallulah Bankhead, who was famous for her eccentricity and extravagant habits. There was also someone from the world of fashion that he knew well: a skeletal, ultra-talkative and perfectly detestable muse, whose identity he kept a closely guarded secret…

Cruella retained the shamelessness and excessive mannerisms of these historic figures. Every time she turns up, Roger and Anita’s cosy, tidy home gets more and more shambolic. And in the Disney Villains Lair she is a genuine “V.I.P.” – that is, Villainous, Intolerable and Pernicious!


But fashion isn’t just about clothes or attitude. It’s also about how you roll! Cruella’s appearance in A night fall with Disney Villains is at the wheel of her red-and-black “Panther de Ville”. With its protruding hood and menacing headlights, the car isn’t something that you miss!

And Cruella is anything but a learner. As part of the Studio Tram Tour- Behind the Magic attraction for the opening of Walt Disney Park Studios, she proudly showed off another of her Panthers – black-and-white this time – that was used in the live-action film 102 Dalmatians (2000). She also appeared in a customized car, featuring some impressive flames, in Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars (2009) and Cruella De Vil Goes Shopping (2021). And her effigy sits stylishly atop the famous 1911 Oakland in the Main Street Motors store.

Cruella is such an iconic villain that there were plans for a return in the 1977 film, The Rescuers, before the creation of Madame Medusa. The fashionista was going to abandon her Dalmatians and throw her lot in with the crocodiles of Devil’s Bayou. As we know, this never came to fruition. But no matter. Whether it’s in London, the US or Disneyland Paris, Cruella remains a villain for the ages – and from every angle!

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