Original Production Animation Cel of Duchess from "The Aristocats," 1970
Original hand painted production animation cel of Duchess from "The Aristocats," 1970; Walt Disney Studios; Numbered 17 in ink lower right; Set over a lithographic background; Size - Duchess: 5 1/4 x 2 1/2", Image: 8 3/4 x 15 3/4"; Unframed.
"Boy! Your eyes ARE like sapphires." - Thomas O'Malley speaking to Duchess
"The Aristocats," 1970 is an animated feature film produced and released by Walt Disney Productions. This was the last film project to be approved by Walt Disney himself, as he died in late 1966, before the film was finally released to theaters by Buena Vista Distribution on December 11, 1970. "The Aristocats" featured the voice talent of Eva Gabor, Hermione Baddeley, Phil Harris, Dean Clark, Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers, and Roddy Maude-Roxby.
The film is based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe, and centers around a family of aristocratic cats. After the mistress's butler kidnaps them (to gain his mistress' fortune which was intended to go to the cats) an unlikely alley cat acquaintance helps them escape and be returned to their home.
Duchess is a long-haired purebred white Turkish Angora cat with blue eyes (shining like sapphires) and wearing a gold and jeweled collar that is studded with diamonds. She is the mother of three kittens; Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse and her owner is the aristocratic Madame Adelaide Bonfamille. Duchess was voiced by Eva Gabor who was a Hungarian-born American socialite and actress. Robie Lester who was an American Grammy-nominated voice artist and singer, provided the singing voice for Duchess.
According to veteran Walt Disney animator Andreas Deja:
"Duchess was animated by quite a few artists, I would say that Ollie Johnston did some of the nicest scenes, educating the kittens etc.. Frank Thomas came up with good acting scenes as well, when Duchess meets O'Malley for the first time, and when she says goodbye to him at the end of the movie. Milt Kahl set her basic design based on Ken Anderson's drawings."
Abraham DeLacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley (simply known as Thomas O'Malley) the alley cat was also animated by Ollie Johnston and Milt Kahl. O'Malley was marvelously voiced by Phil Harris, who was an American singer, songwriter, jazz musician, actor, and comedian. Harris also worked as a voice actor for two other Walt Disney animated feature films: "The Jungle Book," 1967 as Baloo the Bear and "Robin Hood," 1973 as Little John (another bear).
Thomas O'Malley had referred to Duchess's eyes as sapphires earlier in the film, but at that time he was using it merely as a pickup line. This is an absolutely spectacular original production cel of Duchess with both her sapphire blue eyes open and she is sporting a coy smile. A beautiful image of Duchess and a great addition to any animation art collection!
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