Betty Lou Gerson Cruella de Vil ("101 Dalmatians") One of the greatest movie villains -- "If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will" -- was the result of the perfect marriage between animator Marc Davis, who designed the insane puppy napper -- a chain-smoking, supermodel-thin villain with skunk-stripped hair -- and Gerson, who gave the character a whiskey-soaked, over-the-top cackle. In an interview with The Times in 1991, Gerson, who had narrated Disney's "Cinderella," created Cruella's voice by exaggerating her own. "The character has a real sweep to it, and I gave my own voice that sweep." But contrary to popular belief, she definitely wasn't channeling legendary actress Tallulah Bankhead. "I was raised in Birmingham, Ala., and Tallulah was from Jasper, Ala. We both had phony English accents on top of our Southern accents and a great deal of flair." Gerson died in 1999 at the age of 84.
Walt Disney Co.
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