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Interview with Dr. Lona Bailey, the author of The Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story

Film Daily is proud to present an exclusive interview with Dr. Lona Bailey, the biographer and researcher behind the book “The Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story“. In her latest work, Dr. Bailey dives into the life and career of Betty Lou Gerson, the iconic voice actress behind Disney’s most villainous characters. Through interviews, archival research and a deep dive into Gerson’s personal life, Dr. Bailey paints a vivid picture of one of Hollywood’s most beloved villains.

In this exclusive interview with Film Daily, Dr. Bailey discusses her research process and what inspired her to write about Betty Lou Gerson’s remarkable story. She also shares some of the fascinating details she uncovered during her research that shed new light on Gerson’s life and career in Hollywood. Join us as we explore the life and legacy of one of Disney’s most iconic villains!

  1. What was your inspiration for writing “The Voice of Villainy”?

I am a biographer with a focused interest in feministic icons in classic entertainment. In initially reading about Betty Lou Gerson’s career beyond “Cruella,” she really intrigued me so when I learned she did not yet have a biography, I thought what fun it would be to research and write hers.

  1. How did you first become aware of Betty Lou Gerson’s story?

Like many millennials, I grew up with Betty Lou Gerson’s vocal portrayal of “Cruella de Vil” in Disney’s classic One Hundred and One Dalmatians. About two years ago when I was still writing my first biography, my oldest daughter became very interested in the film and watched it incessantly for a few weeks. In reconnecting with the classic, I became interested in researching the talent behind the fabulous husky villainess.

  1. What were some of the challenges you encountered while researching and writing this book?

The greatest challenge in researching these grand women of classic entertainment, like Betty Lou Gerson, is that most of their colleagues have passed away making it very tedious to track down personal anecdotes of their early radio, television, and film days. I have really been lucky, but it has been challenging at times to find primary sources.

  1. What do you think sets Betty Lou Gerson’s story apart and makes it so compelling?

One of the things that makes Betty’s story so unique is that not only was she the first to introduce our world to the legendary icon of “Cruella De Vil,” but that personally, she couldn’t have been more different than the villainess. Additionally, though her husky voice brought “Cruella” to life for countless generations, Betty never really understood how significant the timeless character was or is. To her, it was just a “fun” role to play.

  1. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope readers will come to know and appreciate the grand lady Betty Lou Gerson was, and find personal points of connection and inspiration within her story, just as I have.

Readers can purchase their own copy of “Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story” on Amazon today to learn more about this iconic Disney villainess. More info on the author Dr. Lona Bailey can also be found on her official website at

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