Friday, November 1, 2013


Actress Eva Gabor poses with an enlarged Ken Anderson sketch of Duchess, the female lead in the film The Aristocats. Gabor voiced Duchess with her distinct Hungarian accent. She would later return to the studio to play Miss Bianca in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under.
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. Below are a couple of beautiful exploratory sheets by Milt. As always it's great to see his mind at work in these drawings, he is trying hard to avoid formulas and to find unique arrangements of shapes that bring out her personality.
There is so much knowledge of feline anatomy here, after all, Milt had just finished animation on Shere Khan and Bagheera.

To see a sequence with Duchess and O'Malley in pencil test form go to this previous post:


  1. when I see Duchess, I see the classic Hungarian women. The character and the personality of Eva Gabor came through so well! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I really like how feline her body looks in so few lines. :D

  3. Milt Kahl loved that square jaw on his cats, didn't he?

  4. Oh! That is so great that You remember of the talents of my country:) Thank You!

  5. She looks vey skinny in these early sketches. I always liked the final decision of fattening up the cats a little. It's a subtle change on Duchess, but it illustrates how much of a difference a choice like this makes. I try to keep those options in my mind.

  6. I can see the difference in the film. The scenes with Madame and George have more of the above design, where in the rest of the film she's softer. I prefer the softer version myself. I like to see Milt working the shapes out in one sheet like this. Great stuff. Thanks fer sharing.