On This Day: Disney Classic ‘The Fox and the Hound’ Premieres in 1981

by Joe Rutland

A well-loved Disney animated classic film, “The Fox and the Hound,” opened up in theaters on this day back in 1981.

The movie bases its plot around a young fox named Tod and a hound puppy named Copper. They made a pact to be friends forever. Yet this faces a test later on as they both grow up. Copper becomes a hunting dog and faces a test when it comes to Tod.

“The Fox and the Hound” was loosely based on the 1967 book by Daniel P. Mannix. Now, this flick had a who’s who of actors and actresses providing their voices. Mickey Rooney was Tod and Kurt Russell was Copper. Keith Mitchell was the young Tod and Corey Feldman was the young Copper.

‘The Fox and the Hound’ Earned $39.9 Million At The U.S. Box Office

Others lending their vocal talents to “The Fox and the Hound” included Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, Sandy Duncan, Pat Buttram, Paul Winchell, and John McIntire.

When the movie was released, it was a box-office success for Disney. It earned $39.9 million in the United States alone. The movie cost $12 million to make, so it more than made back its budget and then some.

One more side note to “The Fox and the Hound” was that it became the final film involvement of Disney’s Nine Old Men. They were the original animators who worked with Walt Disney early in his career, dating back to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Movie Took Four Years To Finish And Had 180 People Involved In It

It took four years to complete the production of the movie. In that time, around 360,000 drawings and 1,100 painted backgrounds are among the pieces done for Disney. As for who worked on the movie, that would be 180 people which included 24 animators.

Two other actors got offers to be a part of the cast. Jackie Cooper reportedly auditioned for a role but left in a dispute. He reportedly wanted more money than Disney was willing to fork over to him. Broadway legend Helen Hayes was offered the role of Widow Tweed, but she turned it down.

Kurt Russell would provide the voice of the adult Copper. Jeanette Nolan was Disney’s No. 2 pick for Widow Tweed.

As for the music in the movie, Jim Stafford, who had hits in the 1970s like “Spiders & Snakes” and “Swamp Witch,” wrote three songs. They were “Lack of Education,” “A Hurtin’ Man,” and “Appreciate the Lady.”

In 1982, the movie receives a “Golden Screen Award.” It also gets a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.

But “The Fox and the Hound” remains one of the studio’s most beloved Disney movies after all these years.