The film's opening sequence, in which Darling unwraps a hat box on Christmas morning and finds Lady inside, is reportedly based upon an actual incident in Walt Disney's life. After he'd forgotten a dinner date with his wife, he offered her the puppy-in-the-hat box surprise and was immediately forgiven.
In making this film, Walt Disney claimed that it was a "fun picture" to make (another example of such a film was Dumbo (1941)), because it was an original story and was easily adjustable as they made the film and got to know the characters - there were no pre-existing storylines.
The Beaver character was effectively recycled as the Gopher in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), right down to his whistling speech pattern. This voice was originally created by Stan Freberg who had a background in comedy voices. The demands of voicing the character proved too much, however, so Freberg eventually resorted to using a real whistle to capture the whistling effect.
Peggy Lee later sued Disney for breach of contract claiming that she still retained rights to the transcripts. She was awarded $2.3m, but not without a lengthy legal battle with the studio which was finally settled in 1991.
The first feature-length animated movie to be made in widescreen (2.55:1). Made simultaneously in both a widescreen CinemaScope version and a standard Academy ratio version. It's also the widest film the company has ever created.
The original story was created by Joe Grant while Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was nearing post-production. Ward Greene used Joe Grant's original version as the basis for his novel. Greene's novel was still being written while the film was still in production. Grant's wife was said to have been angry over the story being "stolen" but Walt Disney maintained all legal rights to the story.
In 1937, story man Joe Grant approached Walt Disney with some sketches he had made of his Springer spaniel called Lady. Disney really liked the sketches and told Grant to put them into a storyboard. However, Disney ultimately didn't think much of the finished storyboard. Six years later, he read a short story in Cosmopolitan by Ward Greene called 'Happy Dan the Whistling Dog'. He was sufficiently interested in the story to buy the rights to it. Then in 1949, after Joe Grant had left the studio, his spaniel drawings were unearthed and a solid story using his designs started to take shape. Grant never received any acknowledgement for his contribution to the film until the Platinum Edition DVD in 2006.
When Lady and the Tramp have a night on the town they put their paw prints in a heart with an arrow through it with the initials J.M. and E.B. Tramps paw prints appear under the J.M. while Lady's appear under E.B.
As the story was being developed at the studio, Ward Greene wrote a novelization. Walt Disney insisted that this be released some two years before the film itself to give audiences time to familiarize themselves with the plot.
In the 1999 video release, some scenes had pieces of dialogue missing that had been part of the original theatrical release. This was believed to be caused by the studio restoration process that incorporated both US and international formats of the film, which inadvertently created a hybrid version. Disney often produces different international and foreign versions of their films to make the foreign dialogue fit.
CinemaScope presented some new problems for the animators. The wider canvas space made it difficult for a single character to dominate the screen, and groups had to be spread out to keep the screen from appearing too sparse.
As the release date neared, Walt Disney was dismayed to learn that not all theaters were equipped to show a film in CinemaScope. Consequently, another version of the film had to be made, this time in original aspect ratio.
The decision to film in Cinemascope was made when the film was already in production, so many background paintings had to be extended to fit the new format. Overlays were often added to cover up the seams of the extensions.
Walt Disney read Ward Greene's story, "Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog" in Cosmopolitan magazine in 1943 and eventually hired Greene to include the Dan character in the film during the pre-production stage. But Greene wrote and published an entirely new story "Lady and the Tramp; the Story of Two Dogs," which became the source of the film.
Lady's first appearance in the film was inspired by an event in Walt Disney's personal life. In the late 1920s Disney put a Chow puppy in a hat box and gave it to his wife Lillian as a surprise Christmas present. This gesture was reproduced in "Lady and the Tramp."
When we are in the "December" month of Darling's pregnancy, we see her writing down some girl names. The names are Betty Ann, Betty Lou, Betty Ann Lou, Betty Lou Ann, Mary, and Mary Lou. Betty Ann Lou and Mary Lou get crossed off the list.
The last Disney animated feature co-directed by Wilfred Jackson. During production of "Lady and the Tramp" in 1953, Jackson suffered a heart attack and was never able to resume full-time duties at the studio. After working sporadically on Disney's TV shows he took an extended leave of absence in 1959, and officially retired two years later.
The only one of Disney's Nine Old Men to be excluded in the making of this film was Ward Kimball. Kimball was known for his wacky animation style. After Disney's previous animated film, Peter Pan (1953), Walt wanted his films to start looking more realistic. Walt felt that Ward's animation style didn't translate well into this new vision of his. Ward tried out his style on the Siamese cats, but Walt didn't like the design very well. Ultimately, this lead to Walt not letting Kimball work on this project or any future feature films as a core animator.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the climax of the picture, Trusty was originally killed when hit by the wagon. That is why Jock nudges him and he does not rouse. When Walt Disney viewed this scene, he was shocked, not wanting a repeat of the traumatic scene in Bambi (1942), thinking that it was too intense. Walt then made the animators put Trusty into the end Christmas scene with a Broken Leg to reassure the audience that Trusty was simply knocked out and injured in the previous scene.
The mischievous young puppy at the end of the film (the one who resembles his father, Tramp) is called "Scamp". He was featured in a children's book, a syndicated daily comic strip, and comic books, before starring in Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (2001).
One of the few Disney films in which there is no clear villain although Aunt Sarah could be considered one. The Rat is not generally classified as a villain as his actions are not malicious but are rather purely instinctive.
The filmmakers felt that the two fight scenes in the film should both have distinctly different approaches. For the scene of Tramp fighting the Strays they treated it as a schoolyard scuffle, one that the Tramp doesn't take seriously while the fight with the Rat was treated as a battle to the death. The differences are made more clear with the Tramp being visibly hurt in one and snorting at his opponents in the other.