Cruella's name is a play on the words cruel and devil, an allusion which is emphasized by having her country house be nicknamed "Hell Hall". In some translations, Cruella De Vil is known as "Cruella De Mon", presumably to change the play on the word "devil" to one on "demon" because the word "devil" in some languages does not exist. An example is Italy, where she is called "Crudelia De Mon" (a pun on "crudele", cruel, and "demone", demon). In some languages (such as Spanish) where her last name has been left as De Vil, but is not similar to their equivalent of devil, it is taken to be a play on their equivalent of "vile" or "villain".
The Disney animated version
Disney's animated version of Cruella first appeared in 1961's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, in which she was voiced by Betty Lou Gerson and animated by Marc Davis. The cool detachment of the original character was replaced by a crazed mania, in which Cruella only barely clung to a sheen of glamor. It is rumored that Walt Disney did not like the appearance of Cruella in the film .
For unexplained reasons, Cruella's cat and husband were omitted from the Disney version. The film featured a song, written by Mel Leven, using her name as the title, sung by the dalmatians' owner Roger. The lyrics begin with: Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil. If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will...
Cruella returned in the 2003 direct-to-video sequel 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, where she was voiced by Susanne Blakeslee. She lived in that film and at the end she turned insane and went to the nuthouse. Cruella also appeared in some Disney television shows. She was a regular antagonist in 1997's 101 Dalmatians: The Series, where she was voiced by April Winchell. This time, though, her aim was to steal the Dearly Farm, as killing animals for fashion was deemed politically incorrect. However, she returned to hunting dogs in 2001's House of Mouse and was voiced by Susan Blakeslee. The series featured a running gag in which she inspects dogs from other Disney films with a measuring ruler. Cruella is also one of the villains Mickey fights in Disney-MGM Studios version of Fantasmic! Nighttime Show Spectacular in Disneyland.
She was one of the villains featured in Mickey's House of Villains.
From the unsubtle symbolic name to her hideous physical appearance, the evil of Cruella De Vil is overt. This may be what makes her stand out as one of Disney's most popular villains. Her ferociousness and intended cruelty to the spotted heroes of 101 Dalmatians makes her an easy target, but to her fans, there's something intriguing about her calculated and perseverant menace. In 2002, Forbes ranked De Vil as the thirteenth wealthiest fiction character, citing the single 65-year-old has a net worth of $875 million, obtained through inheritance.
The Disney live-action version
In Disney's 1996 live-action remake of the animated film, 101 Dalmatians, and its 2000 sequel, 102 Dalmatians, Cruella was played by Glenn Close. The film reinvented Cruella yet again, this time as the magnate of a couture fashion house, "House of De Vil", which specialised in fur couture. The character of Anita (played by Joely Richardson) was a couturière and employee of De Vil. This film increased the physical comedy of the animated film, even veering into toilet humor.
The live-action film was critically panned, but Close's performance, as well as her costumes, by Anthony Powell and Rosemary Burrows, received appreciative attention, including a spread in Vanity Fair magazine. 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. Close has commented on how demanding the slapstick physicality of the role was while wearing nail-heeled boots and corsets.
In 102 Dalmatians, while under effect of Dr. Pavlov's hypno-therapy, Cruella wanted to be called "Ella de Vil" because "Cruella sounds so ... cruel". Ella was completely devoted to saving animals and was horrified at the smallest sight of fur fashion, especially since she had all her old fur clothes and the dalmatian coat sketch boarded up. Unfortunately, this new persona doesn't stay for long, since the effects of Big Ben's bells manage to undo the hypno-therapy, and Ella reverts back to Cruella.