She may not have occult knowledge or magical endowments but there is no argument against Lady Tremaine being one of the wickedest Disney villains ever. Her lack of those is more than counterbalanced by her malicious unkindness.
So who is at the receiving end of such negative vibes? Her stepdaughter Cinderella, the hero of the eponymous 1950 Walt Disney film, is.
Cruel and scheming, Lady Tremaine could put to shame anyone dreamed up to the same effect by Edith Wharton. Tremaine does not allow anyone else to be happy in Cinderella's own house besides her daughters Drizella and Anastasia, her diabolic cat Lucifer, and herself. Her machinations emanate from her desire to secure wealthy son-in-laws and improve her lot in society. Badly enough, she is always one step ahead of anyone in the film. When she isn't, she trips them in more ways than one.
Those ain't Laura Bush and daughters.
Left a dowager by Cinderella's father, Lady Tremaine is very jealous of her stepdaughter's beauty for the sake of her exotic-looking daughters. But she herself does not look like a bad catch.
Whomever Anastasia and Drizella take after, Lady Tremaine had the most recognizable voice in Eleanor Audley. She is the voice of another spectacularly cruel Disney woman: the fire-breathing, ice-talking Maleficent in 1959's Sleeping Beauty.
Lady Tremaine and her voice talent Eleanor Audley (L-R)
Unlike that villain however, Lady Tremaine is the kind to inflict psychological more than physical cruelty. Her power lies in her words, not some magic wand or enchanted staff. Her words cut like a Sword in the Stone. People in fact call her the Wicked Stepmother more often than Lady Tremaine.
Picture the dire consequences then if Lady Tremaine got hold of a magic wand. Disney explored this what-if at length in the direct-to-DVD sequel Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.
"I said 'what if.'"
This time Susanne Blakeslee takes over the duties of the dearly departed Audley. Blakeslee also voices Maleficent in the Kingdom Hearts series.