- “Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil!
If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will!”
- ―Lyrics to the "Cruella De Vil" song
Cruella De Vil is the main antagonist of Disney's 1961 animated feature film, One Hundred and One Dalmatians. She is a wealthy, fashion-obsessed heiress who wishes to use the skins of 99 Dalmatian puppies for a fur coat.
She first appeared in the novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians (1956) by Dodie Smith. Perhaps the most famous incarnation of the character was developed for Disney's 1961 animated adaptation, One Hundred and One Dalmatians by story man Bill Peet and animator Marc Davis. The Disney villainess proved successful and has led to appearances in other media.
Cruella is among the most critically-acclaimed and popular Disney characters of all time and is held in a similar regard among cinematic villains, once being voted the 39th greatest movie villain of all time, the 82nd most popular film character of all time and the 31st greatest movie female of all time. She is also one of Disney's single most iconic and memorable characters; referred to in television shows such as The Simpsons, her name served as the inspiration for a fetish magazine, as well as a short-lived Northern Irish post-punk band. She remains a recognizable image in popular culture and is a primary member of the Disney Villains franchise.
Disney's first and most critically acclaimed version of this character appeared in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. This version of the character inherited several visual traits from the original Dodie Smith version: her hair, which was black on one side and white on the other; her black dress; and her enormous mink coat, which swings about her like a cloak. This version of the character, designed by Bill Peet and Marc Davis, was also completely skeletal, and smoked constantly, leaving a trail of green, foul-smelling cigarette smoke wherever she went. Her physical appearance and general manner was described as some sort of hellish beast or demon, a fact referenced in her name and in a song about her.
Cruella, an old school friend of Anita's, claims that she cannot live without furs. She hires Horace and Jasper Badun, two incompetent crooks, to steal Pongo and Perdita's 15 Dalmatian Puppies, and buys eighty-four more through legitimate means. She intends to have all ninety nine puppies skinned and made into clothing. The Colonel, Sergeant Tibbs and Captain are among the animals of the countryside to help Pongo, Perdita and the puppies return home, while Cruella and the Baduns pursue them.
Unlike previous Disney villainesses such as the Evil Queen, Lady Tremaine and Maleficent, Cruella is not a schemer. Instead, she acts purely on impulse and is thus prone to reckless behavior, particularly tearing through the snowy landscape in her car. Unlike future versions of the character, this version of Cruella was seemingly invincible in the eyes of the Dalmatians, who, though they could just about be able to keep Jasper and Horace Badun at bay, were unable to face "that devil woman". Their only hope was therefore to flee; Cruella's defeat in the film is brought about not through the deeds of the animals but her own stubborn relentlessness (which, by the end of the film, has seemingly degenerated into a mad fury), and the incompetence of her henchmen.
Betty Lou Gerson, who had previously provided her voice as the narrator of the opening scenes of Cinderella, was inspired by Tallulah Bankhead when voicing Cruella De Vil. This is interesting as it is said that Dodie Smith originally conceived the character as an evil parody of Bankhead. When performing, Gerson was intimidating even to the other actresses working with her. She was the primary inspiration for Marc Davis when animating Cruella. Davis commented that the vocal performance suggested that "this character was bigger than life, high in energy, and, like a shark, always moving".
Though Cruella's basic appearance, in particular her half black, half white hair, were established in Dodie Smith's original novel, the character's design in the film was developed by Bill Peet (who described Cruella as "a fiendish witch of a woman" who "made the story go"), Ken Anderson and Marc Davis. In sketches exploring designs for Cruella, Marc Davis experimented with more youthful-looking versions of the character. The juxtaposition of the enormous coat against the rail-thin body was established in these early sketches.
Davis exaggerated the size of the coat to match Cruella's larger-than-life personality, and added three big tails to its back to add a "slightly ridiculous" element; the coat's red clothing was intended to allude to the character's somewhat demonic nature (and corresponding name). The disheveled style of Cruella's hair was inspired by hairdos seen in magazines between the 1940s and 1960s. The long green cigarette holder was modeled on one used by Davis himself.
Marc Davis, the sole animator of Cruella in all her scenes in 101 Dalmatians, was initially unsure that Cruella would suit the film, worrying that the character was too comic. Indeed, his colleagues criticized him as he worked; Frank Thomas felt that the head was too skull-like, while Milt Kahl demanded to know why Davis had to "make her feet so damn big".
In addition to the voice of Betty Lou Gerson, the animation was inspired by Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis in All About Eve and Rosalind Russel in Auntie Mame. Davis also worked from live-action footage of character actress Mary Wickes. Wickes' angular physique and sophisticated, smooth movements in this reference footage inspired Davis to incorporate these contrasting aspects in Cruella's animation. However, Davis used the footage sparingly.
Davis wanted Cruella to move "like someone you wouldn't like" and thought of people who do not listen to any voice other than their own, and thus dominate a conversation or situation. He made specific reference in interview to "one woman I knew who was just a monster. She was tall and thin and talked constantly – you never knew what she was saying, but you couldn't get a word in edgewise".
Though Milt Kahl initially disliked Marc Davis' caricatured approach to the design and animation of the character (complaining in particular about the size of Cruella's feet), he was very impressed by the final product and, thinking Davis to be a better draughtsman, appears to have become rather jealous of his colleagues success with the character. When Kahl was given the chance to animate his own flamboyant villainess, Madame Medusa in The Rescuers, he swore to Davis that he would "blow your Cruella off the screen". A fan letter to Kahl from a young Andreas Deja mistakenly referring to him as Cruella's animator received the reply: "Thank you for all your compliments, but I did not animate Cruella De Vil. She was animated by my friend Marc Davis and, unlike Medusa, was based on live-action."
In the live-action remake, Glenn Close portrayed the role of Cruella De Vil and unlike in the animated film, the live-action film gives Cruella the reason why she wanted to make a fur coat out of puppies: because their fur wouldn't be as soft as full grown dogs.
The live-action film was not as critically successful as the animated movie, but Glenn Close's performance, as well as her costumes, by Anthony Powell and Rosemary Burrows, received appreciative attention. 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. Glenn Close commented on how demanding the slapstick physicality of the role was while wearing nail-heeled boots and corsets. While filming the scene where Cruella falls into the molasses, Glenn Close insisted on doing that scene herself for genuine acting, as opposed to delegating it to a stunt double.
A while after Roger and Anita have married and settled down together, Perdita, Anita's Dalmatian, hears the screech of Cruella's car outside, and runs to the kitchen to hide from "that devil woman." Looking out of the window, Roger sees that Cruella, whom he refers to as Anita's old schoolmate, is coming towards the house. As she approaches the front door, Roger sings a less-than-flattering song about her. Anita attempts to stop Roger for fear that Cruella might hear.
Roger goes upstairs and uses various musical instruments to play the tune to the song when Cruella bursts in, demanding to see Pongo and Perdita's puppies, and leaving a trail of smoke from her cigarette. Anita informs her that the Dalmatian puppies will not arrive for a few weeks. Cruella then departs as quickly and loudly as she came, saying that she will return in three weeks. A previously excited Perdita grows anxious at Cruella's interest in the puppies.
Cruella returns to the Radcliffe's house just after the fifteen puppies are born. At first she is furious that the "mongrels" have no spots, but, when Anita tells her that the spots will appear in a few weeks, Cruella offers to buy all fifteen immediately. Roger (after having his songwriting career made fun of by Cruella, and being splattered along with Pongo with ink from a pen that Cruella was using to write the check for the puppies) says they aren't selling and Cruella storms out, vowing revenge.
Later, Jasper and Horace succeed in stealing the puppies while the Radcliffe's are out. At home, Cruella laughs to herself as she reads of the theft in the newspaper; she is the orchestrator of the crime. The Baduns phone her to demand payment, but are told that they will receive nothing until the job is done. Slamming the phone down, Cruella then decides to phone Anita, and feigns surprise at the theft (though Roger is convinced that she is involved).
It is later revealed that another eighty-four puppies were legally purchased, and taken to the Old De Vil Place; Cruella's lair. Cruella arrives one evening, demanding that 'the job' be done immediately, and leaves furiously, threatening to call the police otherwise. Sergeant Tibbs succeeds in helping all 99 Dalmatians escape the old mansion. Cruella, Jasper and Horace search for the puppies in a small village, and Cruella is initially fooled when the dogs cover themselves in soot to disguise as Labradors and board a lorry heading for London.
When she sees snowflakes removing the soot, however, she follows in her car, and Jasper and Horace follow in their truck. Pursuing the puppies, Cruella almost succeeds in ramming the lorry, driver, Dalmatians and all, off a cliff, but the top of her car is ripped off during the chase, which comes to an end when Jasper and Horace, trying to hit the lorry, succeed in ramming their truck into her car, sending Cruella, Horace, and Jasper over the cliff; all three survive, but Cruella is furious and subjects Jasper and Horace to a tongue-lashing at which point Jasper finally plucks up the courage to tell her to shut up. It is presumed they are arrested afterwards.
Walt Disney's early vision for The Rescuers revolved around the kidnapping of a polar bear from a city zoo; writers considered reusing Cruella as the main antagonist (presumably driven by her desire for the bear's fur). The idea was dismissed when the source for the storyline changed, and Disney did not want to make a sequel out of an otherwise unrelated film. Interestingly, the idea that Cruella De Vil liked the fur, but also the diamonds, was in the original Dodie Smith book (while not used in the Disney version of One Hundred and One Dalmatians), and Madame Medusa, the similar main villain of the final version of The Rescuers loves diamonds.
The incarnation of Cruella that appears in 101 Dalmatians: The Animated Series (which relocated the events of the films in America), shares traits with both the 1961 version and the live-action version. In design, she resembles the Cruella of the original animated version. However, the series' slightly different design style, as well as lower budgets, resulted in a simpler design; most notably, the black dress and fur coat were dropped in favour of a simple black-and-white dress.
This version of the character also had a somewhat mellower and less demented personality, as well as losing previous incarnations' excessive smoking habits (in the first episode, she lampshades this by stating "I picked the wrong week to quit smoking") and, notably, obsession with fur (these factors may have been removed due to censors not wanting a smoking, animal murderer on a Saturday morning cartoon); instead, her goal throughout the series was to own the land currently owned by Roger and Anita Dearly. Like the live-action version, this Cruella was the head of the House of DeVil, and was often defeated in comedic fashion. Her minions included Jasper and Horace, as well as her pet ferret, Scorch. Cruella also had a recurring habit of making recorded memos to herself, constantly carrying a tape recorder with her.
In the Christmas Episode, It is revealed that she always wanted a Dalmatian puppy for Christmas but she never got one and her parents were always away for the holidays, while she was left in the care of a different foreign babysitter, which reveals that she was always evil, even as a baby.
Cruella returns in the sequel. In this film, Cruella is first seen trying to find a substitute for her fur obsession. She meets a man named Lars and quickly admires him for his artistic vision. Lars' paintings of spots proves a fine replacement for Cruella's prior obsession. However, Cruella eventually bores of Lars' work but to help Lars, she bails out Jasper and Horace to kidnap the Dalmatian puppies again.
The duo kidnap the puppies and takes them to Cruella's home. Lars believes Cruella wants him to paint puppies but after he finds out he would have to kill the puppies he refuses and calls Cruella a sicko. In anger, Cruella ties Lars onto a large target and throws several knives at him as torture. She returns to her psychotic state and wishes to have a new fur coat once again. Jasper and Horace are given the job to murder the puppies again but the dogs escape. A chase through the city follows which leads to Cruella's defeat by the Dalmatian puppy Patch. Cruella is arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital to be treated for anger management, and presumably some form of obsessive disorder and hallucinations (alluded to by her final lines of seeing spots).
In the series House of Mouse, Cruella appears as a recurring character. As a running gag, Cruella usually measures and examines other dogs from other Disney films, and also threatens Pluto in the first episode:
- Goofy: Here's your doggy bag, Ms. De Vil.
- Cruella: Forget the bag. (gestures to Pluto) I'll take the doggy! (laughs fiendishly)
Also in the first episode, when Pete attempted to escape Mickey and friends after his villainy was exposed, he disguised himself as a Dalmatian but ran away in fear after Cruella began to measure him with a wicked grin. In the episode "House of Crime", Cruella was accused of kidnapping the puppies. She replies by shouting "You make one movie and you're labeled for life!"
In "Max's Embarrassing Date", she went on a date with the Beast and asked if he came in a medium, which the Beast became annoyed of. After the Beast gets soaked with soup he was eating, Cruella is unhappy as she would have to get him dry-cleaned. Cruella also appears as one of the main villains in the film Mickey's House of Villains where she, Jafar, Hades, Ursula and Captain Hook take over the House of Mouse. Out of the main villains, Cruella was the first to note her interest in taking over the club for her own purposes.
In "Pluto Saves the Day", when Pluto and his all dog band performed, Cruella eagerly mumbled to herself "Ooh, where's my tailor when I need him!?"
In the animated short, Cruella was featured as one of the models at Minnie Mouse's fashion show. She was first seen preparing in the makeup department, and later on the runway.
In the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians, Cruella was reinvented as the head of a London-based fashion house, House of DeVil. Rather than an old schoolmate, Anita Dearly is one of her employees and, it is implied, her best designer. It is shown that next to making furs through sold animals she also has stolen some of the skins that she sells. For example early in the movie Roger is seen reading a paper reporting a stolen rare Siberian tiger from London Zoo; it is later revealed that Cruella masterminded the theft and had a close friend — a taxidermist named Skinner — make the tiger into a fur rug for her house.
When Anita presents Cruella with a design of a Dalmatian furred robe, Cruella immediately falls in love and turns her business to a new goal of making Dalmatian fur coats. When she learns that Anita has married a local lonely young man named Roger Dearly, she decides to pay a visit to meet Roger. Roger initially is glad to meet her and has full respect for Cruella but it quickly drains into disrespect and anger when Cruella mocks Anita for marriage to a video game designer (Roger). Cruella only respects Roger and Anita when she learns that their Dalmatians Pongo and Perdy will be bringing puppies into the world.
It is quickly discovered that Cruella has only shown happiness for the family's new puppies under the mistaken belief that she will be allowed to purchase them. Cruella learns from her spies Horace and Jasper one soggy rainy night that the 15 puppies have been born and pays a visit. When seeing the puppies, Cruella calls them rats when seeing no spots until Anita says that they will be spotted in 3 weeks. Cruella immediately asks them to put them in a bag or on reserve for her offering them a paycheck for the puppies and asking to take it. However Roger immediately angrily says that the puppies are not for sale; Anita gains the courage to stand up to Cruella also. A furious Cruella fires Anita and leaves vowing vengeance and calling her and Roger "fools and idiots".
A few months later, Cruella has Horace and Jasper rob the puppies and bring them to her deserted home in the outskirts of London. It is revealed that next to the 15 puppies, Cruella also stole 84 more puppies. The vile men succeed, but after a few days, Cruella realizes that the theft has made the headlines and has been the subject of everything; thus the police have ransacked every home of every suspect, and Cruella realizes that the police are on the verge of targeting her next. Cruella orders Horace, Jasper and Skinner to make the coats, but the puppies manage to escape with some help from other dogs around England; all eventually manage to overwhelm the henchmen into surrendering.
Cruella decides to take matters into her own hands and follows the puppies' tracks, but is pummeled by animals at the barn where the tracks end up. Cruella is unaware during this chase that the Dearlys have finally figured out that she is behind the theft of the puppies, and that police have investigated her home, connecting her to other crimes, including the missing tiger. The police arrive at the barn and see Cruella in mud (having been kicked out by Punch). They arrest her and her henchmen and return the puppies to the Dearlys, while Cruella is found guilty of crimes such as the tiger stealing, theft of the 15 puppies, conspiring to commit crimes, animal abuse, crimes against humanity and verbal assault, sentencing her to life in prison (which is briefly reduced). While on the way, Cruella brought a real skunk instead of her purse and she, Jasper, Horace and Skinner are then sprayed by the skunk, causing them to scream in terror and cover their noses.
Cruella is released from prison after three years and has seemingly been cured of her obsession of furs and now loves puppies and has decided to get rid of her fashion house because the clothes are made out of fur. While visiting Chloe Simon, one of the puppies Oddball nearly falls out the window and while Chloe and the other puppies try to rescue her, Cruella hears the chimes of Big Ben, and she reverts back to her original obsession with spots, seeing black spots everywhere, and she now wants 102 Dalmatian puppies for her designs. She enlists the help of another fashion designer named Jean-Pierre Le Pelt and her unwilling butler named Alonzo. She frames the owner of the Second Chance animal shelter Kevin Shepherd for kidnapping the puppies and he is arrested. He escapes from jail and tries to help Chloe rescue the puppies, but they are trapped by Cruella. The puppies escape and Cruella tries to capture them, and at the same time Alonzo redeems himself by defeating Jean-Pierre Le Pelt and freeing Chloe and Kevin while Cruella is defeated by getting baked in a cake. The police come and arrest her and Le Pelt. Cruella is now imprisoned for life and her entire fortune is donated to the Second Chance animal shelter.
Cruella, played by Victoria Smurfit, debuted in the episode "Heroes and Villains" of the ABC series Once Upon a Time, and serves as a main antagonist for the second half of the fourth season. She returns as recurring villain in the second half of the fifth season.
In a realm where the timeline is a constant 1920s London, a young Cruella De Vil is being mistreated by her mother Madeline as she instructs her Dalmatians to chase her daughter, and is locked in the attic, apparently similar to Cinderella or Penny's dramatic situation.
Fast forward to several years later, and a reporter, who is revealed to the Author but is using an alias by the name of Isaac, is paying a visit to the home pretending to seek out a story after having seen Cruella from the attic, only to have Madeline warning him to stay away. Unfortunately, Isaac returns and helps Cruella escape from the attic. He then takes Cruella out for a date that includes dinner and dancing. Cruella reveals to Isaac that the reason she was kept in the attic was that she witnessed her mother kill her father and her previous husbands; Isaac then reveals to Cruella that he was more than just a reporter and has the ability to use his pen and ink to create magical stories. Isaac proposes that they run away together, and uses his quill and ink to give Cruella her persuasion powers to control animals.
However, for Isaac, his future with Cruella would later take a unique twist that will put his future in danger. When Madeline pays a visit to see him, she tells him that Cruella had lied to him about what actually happened to her husbands: Cruella was the one who killed them, not Madeline, and was trying to prevent her from killing others. When Madeline returns home, Cruella was ready for her, and eventually kills her mother by controlling her Dalmatians and command them to attack her. Afterwards, Isaac realized his quill was missing, so he pays a visit to see Cruella and is stunned that she used him as a means to an end, and Cruella used the skin from her mother's dogs as fur for her signature coat. The confrontation lead the two to fight over the ink, which is then spilled on Cruella, transforming her into the infamous black & white infused-hair character. As Cruella is about to kill him, Issac uses his powers as the Author to make it so that Cruella can never kill anyone ever again by writing it down on a piece of paper.
Receiving an invitation from the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin, to the Forbidden Fortress, Cruella De Vil arrives with her two dog companions, using her magical ability of persuasion on them, to which they react with hostility towards two strangers, Maleficent and Ursula. Rumplestiltskin desires help from all three women to retrieve a curse and give them, as well as himself, the happy endings they otherwise would not get as villains. After agreeing, they travel with him to the Bald Mountain, where each women uses their powers to defeat an obstacle. For Cruella, she magically persuades a horde of venomous bugs to part aside for them. Once Ursula grabs the crystal ball containing the curse, it triggers the Chernabog into attacking. Admitting that he used them, Rumplestiltskin advises the women about the Chernabog, which detects the heart with the greatest evil and devours it. He then leaves, with the crystal ball, while the trio face the beast. The Chernabog attacks Maleficent, who distracts it as Cruella and Ursula climb up a crack in the ceiling. Just before the Chernabog can kill Maleficent, Ursula hoists her to safety.
Some time in the past before the Dark Curse, Cruella allied herself with Maleficent and Ursula to steal a powerful gauntlet from the evil sorcerer, Rumplestiltskin. This gauntlet is capable of revealing one's weakness, which the villains plot to utilize in order to defeat their enemies and gain their own happy endings.
Cruella uses a Dalmatian to kidnap Rumple's maid, Belle, and holds her for ransom in exchange for the gauntlet. Once the item is in their possessions, Cruella and the other reveal their scheme, though Rumple manages to steal it back, claiming the exchange was performed through ransom, and not a deal, which he never breaks. Cruella scoffs and claims he'll meet a defeat, as villains never win, yet the sorcerer retorts by claiming he always does.
After the Charmings discover that their baby would be evil, and they could channel the darkness into Maleficent's child , they knock out Cruella and Ursula, who had been guarding the cave, and steal the egg.
Later, Cruella and Ursula are revived and confront the Charmings, who unknowingly agreed to send the egg to the Land Without Magic. During the confrontation, Ursula and Cruella are pulled into the portal along with the egg. Cruella and Ursula abandon the baby on the side of the road, using the magic powers of it's eggshell to preserve their youth.
Years later, in the modern world, it is shown that Rumple (having met defeat of his own) plans to ally himself with Cruella, Maleficent and Ursula to find the Author of the Once Upon a Time book to forcibly retrieve their happy endings. Cruella De Vil was shown living on Long Island under the alias of Cruella Feinberg, who just had her lavish lifestyle and items repossessed by the FBI. At Mr. Gold and Ursula's arrival, she expresses little interest in joining them and instead shows off her car. Mr. Gold and Ursula find her and offer her the opportunity to join them into returning to Storybrooke. Cruella agrees to the terms and takes them to Storybrooke in her car. Upon using Mr. Gold's cellphone, Ursula and Cruella make a deal with Regina to let them into Storybrooke in exchange for info on how to defeat the Chernabog. After the Chernabog disappeared upon being thrown over the town line, Ursula and Cruella were invited into Storybrooke. Later that night, Cruella and Ursula get Mr. Gold back into Storybrooke. That night, Cruella and Ursula meet with David and Mary Margaret, who swear the twosome into never revealing their pasts with each other in the Enchanted Forest. Ominously, Mary Margaret promises to tear out their Hearts herself if they don't comply.
Cruella and Ursula secretly work with Mr. Gold to resurrect Maleficent. The women steal an ornament of Maleficent's from the pawnshop, which David and Mary Margaret believe will be used to resurrect the dead sorceress. Instead, this is only a ruse to bait the couple into venturing into the cave below the library where Maleficent's ashes reside, and after David and Mary Margaret are knocked out by Ursula, Cruella sacrifices some of their blood to Maleficent's ashes to complete the spell that proceeds to morphs her ashes into her undead form, then her dragon form before restoring her to life.
While Mr. Gold, Regina, and Maleficent were searching the Sorcerer's mansion for the door that the Author was behind, Cruella was left to guard August. She was knocked out by Mary Margaret. Cruella managed to slip away after witnessing King Poseidon returned Ursula her singing voice. After catching up to Mr. Gold, Regina, and Maleficent, Cruella De Vil told them that Emma and Mary Margaret rescued August. She also told them her suspicion of Ursula being the mole, unaware that she has left Storybrooke with her father.
While driving, Maleficent teleports in front on the car. Maleficent confronts Cruella as to why she lied to her about her daughter Lily and tell her that she was dead. Cruella simply tells her that she's a terrible person and left her in the woods to die, claiming she isn't "mother material". She tells her that Ursula and herself took her dragon egg to absorb the magic and keep themselves youthful. Furious at her, Maleficent tells Cruella her death will last for days and turns into a dragon. However, Cruella uses her powers to put Maleficent under her control and tells her that today is the day she gets her happy ending now that the Author is here. Cruella then pays a visit to Isaac to make up for lost time and to offer him a deal, as Gold does not know that they knew each other as Isaac catches on to her deception. And since Isaac knows that Cruella has no power to kill anyone, Cruella, who tells Isaac that there are other ways to "skin an author," finds a way to make it happen by kidnapping Henry by using a controlled Pongo, which she uses to force both Emma and Regina to do her bidding by making the mothers kill Isaac or else Cruella will kill Henry. Emma and Hook searches the woods just in time for Henry to escape from the woods and it's Emma who finds Henry, but Cruella is threatening to throw Henry off the cliff, then tempts Emma's patience to see if she will do it, reminding her that heroes never kill. Not knowing that the Author has made it so that Cruella can no longer kill, Emma use her powers to kill Cruella by knocking her off the cliff.
She is later buried by Mr. Gold and the Author.
When the heroes journey to the Underworld to save Hook, Emma sees Cruella in her car drive past them.
Cruella is chosen as the new mayor of the Underworld after Cora is fired. She redecorates the mayoral office with dog statues and Dalmatian-spotted curtains.
Regina realizes that a good way to find Hook would be to get all the schematics of the Underworld buildings. Assuming they are in the office of the Underworld's city hall, Regina sends Robin and Henry to get them, as Henry knows the office. After they arrive, Robin discovers the office is locked, and opens an air vent for Henry to crawl through. Unbeknownst to Henry, Cruella is waiting for him in the office. She tells him that she misses the real world, and since Henry is the Author, he can send her back to the world of the living. When Henry tells her he broke the pen and is unable to do so, Cruella tells him that the pen was a living entity, and when he broke it, it was sent to the Underworld. When Henry asks her why he should help her, Cruella explains that by bringing her back to life, he would be saving Emma, as she would no longer be a murderer.
Later, Cruella tries to flee the Underworld diner, but Regina stops her, curious to know more about the cemetery. Cruella tells her to use her magic, but realizes that Regina is having trouble using it in the Underworld. Cruella invites her to sit so they can chat. Regina asks her if everyone who has a grave in the Underworld is actually there. Cruella tells her no, that most of them are passing through, and provides her with a map of the cemetery plots, explaining to Regina that she has access to them, as she is mayor now. She explains that there is a key to interpreting whether the person who's name is listed on the headstone is present in the Underworld: If the head stone is upright, they are still in the Underworld; if it is tipped over, they have moved on to a better place; and if it is cracked, they have moved on to Hell. She is also seen wearing a doe fur in her meeting with Regina, but neither confirms nor denies whether it belongs to Bambi's mother.
When David (Prince Charming) is looking about the sheriff's office, Cruella arrives with champagne and starts flirting with him, acting as though she thinks he's James. David is able to block her advances before Cruella admts that she knew all along that he is David. She then tells David about James' anger for him, about how their mother chose David and not James.
After Hades decides to remove all evidence of hope from the Underworld, he request to have all of the phone booths that allow Underworld residents to talk to they living relatives removed. As mayor, Cruella oversees their destruction. When David and Hook attempt to contact David's son back in Storybrooke, and see that the booths are being ripped out, they protest. Henry asks if Cruella's doing this because he refuses to write her back to life. She tells them that it wasn't her decision to have all the phones removed, and they figure out it was Hades. David tells her to tell Hades that it will take more than that to discourage them. Cruella offers them a choice that she can look the other way as they make one last phone call while she has Henry write her back to life. David refuses the offer, and she tells Claude, the man working on the booths to rip out the phone.
Cruella realizes that since Henry will not bring her back from the dead, she needs to find an alternate method to return to Storybrooke. She decides to kidnap Zelena's daughter to use as leverage against Hades as he is in love with Zelena. She and James decide to have James switch places with David, in hopes they can take the child. After James successfully imprisons David, and has Robin Hood and Emma as hostages, Cruella meets him in the forest to take the baby. She punches Emma, telling her it was payback for killing her, then tells Emma her reasons for wanting the baby. Knowing they won't just hand the baby over, Cruella and James decide to take Emma and Robin to the Underworld harbor, hoping to push them over the docks into the River of Lost Souls. As they are about to push them over, David and Hook arrive. Cruella tries to grab a gun, but Hook takes it first, saying she wouldn't be able to use it anyway. She runs off and takes cover beside a large box on the dock, watching the ensuing fight between David and James. She helps James during the fight, reminding him of the knife he has hidden in his sock. As James tries to stab David, he is thrown into the River. Cruella then flees the area.
When a portal to Storybrooke is opened, the heroes decide to leave the Underworld for good. When Cruella finds out that Hades is also leaving for Storybrooke and that the Underworld will need a new ruler, she changes her mind on being written back to life and instead chooses to stay and rule the Underworld, and keep the heroes there as punishment. As Henry begins writing everyone's unfinished business, Cruella approaches the table. After she reveals her plan to the heroes, Regina tells her that it would be impossible for Cruella to keep them there, as her magic can only "make a dog roll over and beg." Cruella agrees, but then the Blind Witch appears, saying she has the right powers, revealing her alliance with Cruella. She blasts them into the Underworld Library and blocks the door with magic, before she walks off with Cruella, who says that eternity is going to be nice after all.
To make sure no one can complete their unfinished business and stay in the Underworld, she takes the Underworld edition of the storybook, and throws it in the River of Lost Souls. As she is enjoying a martini at the diner, Hook approaches her, accompanied by a newly deceased King Arthur, and asks her about the phone booths that were torn down, as he needed to contact Emma back in Storybrooke. She tells him there is nothing left of them, as she had them destroyed. Hook then asks her where the storybook is and she tells him that she threw it in the River.
Cruella appears in the Disney Channel Original Movie Descendants. Mother of Carlos De Vil, Cruella uses her son like a servant. When she mentions that she would miss him if he went to Auradon, she explains "who would touch up my roots, fluff my fur, and scape the bunions from my feet?" She raised Carlos to be cynophobic (afraid of dogs), explaining that she was a "dog yellerer" - an expert. She seems to have gone slightly mad over the 20 years that she's been trapped on the island, given that she usually talks to a toy puppy head on her jacket she named Baby. When she sees that Carlos has adopted a dog named Dude, she thinks it would make a good pair of earmuffs. However, for the very first time, she is told off by her son, who had gained courage from his time in Auradon. "FYI, your dog is stuffed; so give it a rest!" Jafar laughed at her for getting "burned"/dissed by her son. This mockery later led all four villains including Maleficent and the Evil Queen to squabble in embarrassment in front of their kids.
Cruella will be the central character in the upcoming live-action film. While it remains unknown on who will be cast for the leading role, Glenn Close, who originally portrayed Cruella in the 1996 remake and its sequel, is set to be an executive producer on the film, and is to be written by Kelly Marcel, who is also the one to script Saving Mr. Banks.
Cruella appears in the fourth and fifth books in the saga. In Power Play, she and the Evil Queen take over the leadership of the Overtakers when Maleficent and Chernabog are captured. At the end of the book, she mentions she's an important part of the Overtakers, because she knows the ways of the modern world unlike the Queen or Maleficent. In Shell Game, she and the Queen appear again aboard the Disney Dream while following the hyenas who caught the Keepers' scent; she commands the hyenas, giving them names like Happy or Howly. She has a figurative "magic" the Overtakers need to use on Chernabog, but what that is remains unknown. She has also asked "Queeny" to teach her some spells.
Cruella appears in the prelude to Descendants, where it is shown that she treats Carlos as a slave rather than her own flesh-and-blood, going as far as to have him sleep in an inhospitable coat closet rather than give him a room of his own. She spends a portion of her time at an area on the island that passes for a spa; it serves as one bit of comfort and reminder of her past luxurious life.
She appears in the Animated Storybook, which is based more on her appearance from the first live-action film.
In the "House of DeVil" page, if a music player is clicked, Cruella gets her first musical number titled "I Love Fur", where she discusses her obsession with fur fashion.
In Escape from DeVil Manor (based on Roger's video game from the first live-action film), Cruella is shown to be present at Roger and Anita's wedding.
As Whizzer and Patches look around DeVil Manor, they find her nanny's room with a portrait of a young Cruella ripping the head from a doll, with a nervous nanny behind her. Whizzer and Patches also find Cruella's room from when she was younger, as it seems to suggest she tortured animals in her youth.
When Cruella learns of Whizzer and Patches, she chases them into a mine shaft where they throw a pile of explosives at her, sending her flying into a bathtub in a junkyard, where the police are waiting to arrest her.
In 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue, Cruella has set up a toy factory next to DeVil Manor. She seems to have tried online dating, where she has supposedly wed herself to Professor Farzboom, a meek professor who helps her make her toys. However, the toy sales are failing, and Cruella suspects it is because the public is spending their money more on animals. She then sends her toys to abduct all the pets in England.
Cruella's plan is to incise the pets of England in a Super Glop made by Farzboom and then sell them as lifelike plush toys.
When Domino and Oddball confront Cruella at her toy factory, they are able to knock her into the vat of Super Glop, with Farzboom jumping in to help her. Afterwards, they are arrested, with the Super Glop sticking them together for 20 years (which is the same as their prison sentence).
Dottie describes Cruella's scent to be like Pepper, a likely homage to how her scent and taste are described in the novel.
In Disney Universe, a Cruella costume can be unlocked for the player to wear.
Cruella also appears as a Townsperson in Disney INFINITY. In the 3DS version of the game, she appears as a cameo and will take coins from the player with the highest amount and keep them for herself.
In the Disney Villains Challenge tablet game, Cruella is one of the antagonists that the player may face. Her challenges include trying to help a Dalmatian from DeVil Manor, pinning down her car, repainting said car, playing Roger's piano, and giving Cruella a makeover to make her look silly.
Cruella makes appearances in the Disney theme parks around the world.
Cruella was featured in the villains segment of the 2015 rendition of World of Color.
For meet-and-greets, she can often be found along Main Street, U.S.A. in the Disneyland park.
In Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Cruella is a villain enemy featured in Main Street, U.S.A. She makes a deal with Hades (under the guise of Boss Teal), to have all the Dalmatians in her possessions in exchange for the legendary crystal of the Magic Kingdom. When word spreads that Pongo has contacted the local dogs to guard the crystal, Cruella sends Jasper and Horace to capture the dogs. They capture a few but before they a given a chance to eliminate them, the park guests arrives and defeats the hoodlums. Meanwhile, Hades created a fireworks show to distract the citizens whilst Cruella rampages through their homes to find the crystal. Eventually, she breaks into Merlin's secret vault. However, Perdita replaced the crystal with a chew toy, and Cruella breaks down in tears at the fact that she's been outwitted by dogs. After the guests blast her with magic, he coat falls apart, causing her to throw a tantrum and falling beneath the floor.
Cruella appears as one of the villains in the Florida version of Fantasmic!. In the show, Cruella is called forth by the Evil Queen when she plans to destroy Mickey Mouse once and for all with the help of her fellow Disney Villains. In the end, Cruella is killed by Mickey along with the other villains.
In Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, Cruella is conjured by Maleficent as one of the "frightful friends" The Sanderson Sisters need for their Halloween party. Cruella and the other villains be seen singing "I Put a Spell on You" with the sisters at the end of the show.
Cruella's most notable park appearance in arguably Disney Stars and Motorcars Parade. In Disney's Maleficious Halloween Party, Cruella is the fourth villain Dr. Facilier encounters. She teaches Facilier about fashion and he defeats Cruella using the puppies which drives her to running away.
She also has a street show in the Disney Studio Park called "Starring Cruella De Vil".
Cruella is one of the villain suspects in Midship Detective Agency on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship. However, after finding some evidence, it is reveled that Cruella is not responsible for the crime in question, being absent from the ship at the time the crime was committed. Ironically, one of the crimes she was innocent of was the kidnapping of Pongo and Perdie's 99 puppies. So far, Cruella is always innocent.
The 1961 animated version of Cruella De Vil is generally considered Disney's best interpretation of the character, and one of the greatest movie villains of all time, declared by many critics as the best villain since the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was nominated for a place in 'AFI's 50 Greatest Villains list' (along with the Evil Queen, Stromboli, Man, Lady Tremaine, Maleficent and Ursula; the Disney Villains to make the final list were the Queen (10), Man (20), and Cruella De Vil (39)) and was ranked sixth in fan site Ultimate Disney's countdown of the most popular Disney Villains. In an official poll for favorite animated Disney Villains she placed first. Cruella was also ranked as the third greatest Disney Villain in the tongue-in-cheek Disney Villains: The Top Secret Files by Jeff Kurtti. She was voted the 82nd most popular movie character of all time by the readers of film magazine Total Film; she was the only animated Disney character to appear on the list.
Polls held close to the publication of The Disney Villain rank Cruella as the most popular Disney Villain. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (authors of the book) find the character "a sparkling combination of unnerving evil intent and ridiculous farce, played against the innocence and vulnerability of 99 puppies... Cruella was unique, outrageous, and highly entertaining".
Leonard Maltin considers the character to exemplify the film's "stylistic exaggeration of reality... her design is a caricature... even her car is an exaggeration". Times critic Howard Thompson felt that she "makes the Snow White witch seem like Pollyanna... Imagine a sadistic Aunt Mame, drawn by Charles Addams and with a Talulah Bankhead bass." Leonard Maltin, "The Disney Films" (Disney Editions, New York, 2000) Jerry Beck's Animated Movie Guide declares that "Disney evildoers of the past were merely dastardly, but Cruella was actually psychotic, a bony, volatile bundle off thinly worn nerves and hysterical egomania... Cruella De Vil is arguably the most memorable character in any Disney film".
A live-action incarnation was portrayed by Glenn Close for a remake, One Hundred and One Dalmatians; this version was not only an heiress but also a fashion designer, and was defeated in slapstick fashion similar to the defeats of the villains of the Home Alone movies (which were produced by the same producer).
- Despite being the villain, Cruella, alongside the titular Dalmatians, is the most iconic character from the film.
- Cruella's defeat in One Hundred and One Dalmatians is unique for most other villains. Cruella was not defeated by the protagonists but by a minor character: the truck driver. Also the reason for her failure was the incompetence of Jasper and Horace. The Dalmatians themselves contributed very little to her downfall.
- "Cruella De Vil" is a play on the words "cruel" and "devil".
- Since Cruella is generally the Big Bad of the franchise, she was assumed to be the main villain in Patch's London Adventure; however, the true villain turns out to be Lil' Lightning, Thunderbolt's jealous and traitorous sidekick.
- In the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, one of the twins calls Meredith Blake "Cruella".
- Bruce W. Smith, an animator at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, used Cruella as a reference when creating Dr. Facilier.
- Cruella was listed #16 in Empire Magazine's The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters. Stating as her Stroke of genius her unique approach to keeping her two henchmen, Jasper and Horace, on her side, constantly slapping them, threatening them and berating them for (admittedly catastrophic) failures.
- Cruella is often seen in Forbes Annual Fictional 15 list of wealthiest fictional characters.
- It was revealed in "A Christmas Cruella" that she did want a puppy before becoming her villainous self.
- In all animated and live-action movies, Cruella is commonly seen smoking.
- In the TV series, Cruella quits smoking.
- Cruella was briefly mentioned by Zelda, the villainess of The Swan Princess III during her villain song along with the Wicked Witch of the West.
- A running gag through out the TV series is Cruella calling Roger by a different name.
- Cruella made the Forbes Fictional 15 list as #13 in 2002. She is one of five characters in the Disney company to make the Forbes Fictional 15 list, with the others being Flintheart Glomgold, Oliver Warbucks, Tony Stark (even though Stark was not owned by Disney at the time), and Scrooge McDuck.
- Cruella was originally chosen to be the villainess for The Rescuers too, but then it was decided to create a new villainess, Madame Medusa, instead. However, both Cruella and Medusa have strikingly similar personalities and traits.
- In the original book by Dodie Smith, Cruella loved fur and diamonds. It was not used for the 1961 animated film, but it's however a new point in common.
- Sigourney Weaver was previously offered the role of Cruella De Vil in the live-action adaption of 101 Dalmatians until Glenn Close took it after finishing her run in the musical Sunset Boulevard.
- In both live-action films, when Cruella is foiled, she is seen wearing a red-and-black fur coat.
- Cruella has a brother, Cecil, and a niece named Ivy. However, Cecil is not Ivy's father, meaning that Cruella and Cecil must have another sibling (most likely a brother) who is Ivy's parent.
- In Once Upon a Time, Cruella was granted the magical ability of persuasion. The power on the show is displayed as green smoke from her mouth, which in the film, Cruella constantly exhaled due to her smoking cigarettes.
- Cruella is the first female villain to oppose a male protagonist in Pongo.
Deviations from source material
- In Dodie Smith's original book, Cruella De Vil was married to a furrier, but kept her maiden name. In the Disney films, Cruella's portrayed as unmarried.
- She could be considered more sinister and less powerful than the Disney version of the character, which retains the half black, half white hair, the huge, cape-like mink coat and the hell-like home (suggested in the film by the look of her bedroom).