The Disney animated feature Lady and the Tramp opened in theaters on June 22, 1955, which makes the movie 60 years old today. How long is that in dog years? Maybe you saw it in theaters; it was re-released every six years or so, as the custom was before home video. Maybe you grew up with it on videotape. But no matter how much you enjoyed it, you probably don’t know what went into the making of the movie.
1. It was inspired by a real dog named Lady.
In 1937, Disney writer Joe Grant showed Walt Disney some sketches he had done of his Springer Spaniel, Lady. Walt was impressed, and encouraged Joe to create a full storyboard. Like her fictional counterpart, the real-life Lady was learning how to deal with her owners’ new baby, which served as the main inspiration for Grant’s plot. In the end, Walt wasn’t thrilled with the storyline, and the idea was scrapped. Several years later, Disney came across a story by Ward Greene in Cosmopolitan titled “Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog." He believed that the two ideas could be combined into one to create a stronger story, and asked Greene to come up with one.
3. The real Tramp was a girl.
The writers and animators had plenty of inspiration for Lady, as some of the people involved with the film had spaniels they brought in as models. But the perfect mutt proved to be more elusive. One of the writers spotted the perfect happy-yet-bedraggled dog roaming around his neighborhood and tried to coax it over, but the dog was too quick. After failing to spot the dog again, the writer eventually checked with the city pound, where he found his perfect Tramp. Disney adopted the dog, who had apparently been just hours away from “taking the long walk,” and let her live in a private area behind Disneyland.
Those are interesting facts, but why did an idea that started in 1937 take so long to get to the public? That’s explained in the article 14 Things You Might Not Know About Lady and the Tramp at mental_floss.