Before 101 Dalmatians, Bolt, and Air Bud, there was Lady and the Tramp. It’s been a longtime favorite of ours ever since we saw it for the first time, and we can’t wait to watch it to our heart’s content when it comes out on Digital and Movies Anywhere on February 20 and on Blu-ray February 27! Even though you’ll probably be a Lady and the Tramp expert once you own the classic Disney film (if you don’t already), we have 10 fun facts that we bet will come as a surprise:
1. Animators used their own faces as reference for the characters.
To make the dogs’ facial movements (when emoting/speaking) look realistic, artists would make faces in a mirror and study how their features changed. They would then find a way to incorporate these subtle changes into the faces of the dogs in the film.
2. Lady was based on a real dog.
After seeing sketches Joe Grant did of his pet, English Springer Spaniel, Walt Disney encouraged the writer/artist to create a full storyboard featuring the pup. Like Lady, Grant’s dog (also named Lady) was learning how to deal with a new baby in the house.
3. A moment from Walt Disney’s personal life inspired a famous scene.
The scene in which Jim Dear gifts his wife Lady in a hatbox was actually inspired by a similar situation experienced by Walt Disney. During Christmas one year, Walt put a chow puppy (who they later named Sunnee) in a hat box and gave it to his wife!
4. The setting was inspired by Walt Disney’s hometown.
The small town vibe in Lady and the Tramp was actually inspired by Marceline, Missouri. The city was also part of the inspiration behind Main Street at Disneyland—which opened a month after Lady and the Tramp premiered.
5. Real animals were brought into the studio as a reference.
In fact, animator Wolfgang Reitherman studied rats when animating the rat scene.
6. Walt was personally responsible for naming Tramp.
After struggling to come up with the perfect name for Lady’s love interest, Walt Disney offered Tramp as a possibility and it stuck.
7. Tramp was inspired by a short story.
While Lady’s inspiration came from an animator’s dog, Walt got the idea for Tramp from Ward Greene’s short story Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog. After realizing the two characters would be perfect together, Walt asked the author to pen a novel—which ended up being titled Lady and the Tramp: The Story of Two Dogs. It released in 1953 and served as the main source material for the film.
8. A famous singer worked on the music and voiced a character in the film.
Peggy Lee, who was a famous jazz singer at the time, lent her voice to the character Peg, and wrote the lyrics for many of the film’s original songs. She even sang a few of them, including: “He’s a Tramp,” and “La La Lu.”
9. Lady and the Tramp was the last film Wolfgang Reitherman worked on as an animator.
He then went on to direct films like: Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats.
10. It was the first Disney movie filmed in the Cinemascope wide-screen film process.
To nail the detailed Victorian setting, animators painted the background and animated the characters on top of it. The results are absolutely stunning.