Donald DuckDonald Duck (1934) by Dave Koch
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- Walt Disney Studios
- First Appeared in 1934.
A Brief History Of This Cartoon Character:
Universally acclaimed, Donald Duck has become one of filmdom's most popular citizens with movie fans in 76 countries, readers who follow his daily comic strip in 100 foreign newspapers, friends who read his comic books published in 47 nations and television families who watch him in 29 countries.
The web-foot wonder was actually "born" with the June 9,1934, release of Walt Disney's The Wise Little Hen, in which the sailor-suited duck danced a jaunty hornpipe. Donald's success story truly began in the early 1930's when Walt Disney heard a Los Angeles radio personality named Clarence Nash creating animal sounds. When Nash performed a nervous recitation of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," (in a voice that he had intended as a frightened baby goat) Walt Disney declared, "That's our talking duck!" For the next fifty years, Clarence "Ducky" Nash provided Donald's distinctive voice, until his death in 1985. Disney animator Tony Anselmo- personally trained by Nash in the quacker's art- took over for Ducky.
Following The Wise Little Hen, Donald's next appearance was in Orphan's Benefit (1934). He was given more lines in his second role, and his personality began to take shape. His short-fused temper, explosive tantrums, and flustered incompetence in the face of obstacles and irritants had audiences delirious with laughter at his antics-and empathizing with his enraged response to life's frustrations. By 1937, Donald had become a star.
In that year's Don Donald, the gallant bird wooed an exotic senorita named Donna, who later evolved into Daisy Duck-every bit Donald's match in independent thinking, fortitude and tenacity Naturally, they've been crazy for each other since. And in a 1938 cartoon tided Donald's Nephews, Donald's sister, Dumbella, sent three hellion nephews- Huey, Dewey and Louie- for Donald to look after. She still hasn't come back for them.
Donald's rise to fame led to roles in more than 150 short subjects, as well as appearances in the feature films The Reluctant Dragon (1941), Saludos Amigos (1943), The Three Caballeros (1945), and the featurettes Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) and The Prince and the Pauper (1990). Donald's piano duel with a daffy cartoon colleague was a highlight of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).
Der Fuehrer's Face (1943), one of the most famous Donald Duck cartoons ever made, won the Academy Award as Best Cartoon Short Subject of 1942-43. Although Donald was drafted in 1942, the Army overlooked one thing-his discharge. Finally, in 1984, the U.S. Army granted an honorable discharge to Private Donald Fauntleroy Duck.
Besides features and cartoon shorts, Donald has also starred in a number of "awareness" featurettes and educational films including Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) and Donald's widely-screened safety production, Donald's Fire Survival Plan (1966).
When Walt Disney entered the television industry in 1954, Donald Duck was right at his side, making numerous appearances over three decades on the many Disney television shows. The Disney Channel has created yet another venue for Donald, in a variety of programming including his series Quack Attack, seen weekday mornings.
In 1984, Donald received one of the greatest show-biz honors, when he left his webbed footprints in cement in a ceremony at the world-famous Chinese Theater in Hollywood. And, of course, Donald personally greets millions of guests annually at Disneyland.
To Donald's adoring public, this quote from Noel Coward's Brief Encounter seems very appropriate: "Thank heaven for Donald Duck."
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