ON THIS DATE (51 YEARS AGO)
January 25, 1961 – Disney’s 17th animated feature film, “101 Dalmatians,” featuring the voices of Rod Taylor, Betty Lou Gerson, and J. Pat O’Malley, opened in U.S. and Canadian movie theaters.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians, often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Seventeenth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961 by Buena Vista Distribution.
The film features Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, the first of the Dalmatians, and Betty Lou Gerson as the voice of the villainous Cruella de Vil. The plot centers on the fate of the kidnapped puppies of Pongo and Perdita.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians was the tenth highest grossing film of 1961, accruing $6,400,000 in distributors’ domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals during its first year of release, and one of the studio’s most popular films of the decade. The film was re-issued to theaters in 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991.
It currently holds a 97% “fresh” rating from critics and users on Rotten Tomatoes. The film did receive some negative criticism. Phillip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette only gave the film 2/5 stars. In 2011 Craig Berman of MSNBC ranked the film and its 1996 remake as two of the worst kid films of all-time saying, “The plot itself is a bit nutty. Making a coat out of dogs? Who does that? But worse than Cruella de Vil’s fashion sense is the fact that your children will definitely start asking for a Dalmatian of their own for their next birthday.”