The History of Donald Duck

His short temper and instantly recognizable voice have made him one of the most popular cartoon characters of all time. He made his debut on June 9th, 1934 in the Silly Symphony cartoon “The Wise Little Hen. Created by Walt Disney, the idea of the character emerged after he witnessed performer Clarence Nash present his remarkable duck voice. Appearing alongside Mickey Mouse in 1934’s “Orphan’s Benefit”, the character displayed his first fit of squawking anger, which sent audiences into fits of laughter. An icon of the Walt Disney Company, he remains one of the most famous animated characters in the world, and continues to entertain generations of children with his hilarious personality and incomprehensible voice. Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look back at the history of Donald Duck.
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The History of Donald Duck

His short temper and instantly recognizable voice have made him one of the most popular cartoon characters of all time. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at the history of Donald Duck.

Donald Fauntleroy Duck made his debut on June 9th, 1934 in the Silly Symphony cartoon “The Wise Little Hen.” He has since gone on to become one of the most popular Disney characters ever.

Donald was created after Walt Disney witnessed performer Clarence Nash use his remarkable duck voice.

After hiring the talented performer, Disney studios crafted an animated duck to appear alongside Mickey in 1934’s “Orphan’s Benefit.” In the film, Donald was one of many characters helping Mickey put on a charity event. However, once orphans began heckling Donald, he exploded into a fit of squawking anger. This sent audiences into fits of laughter, and remained the premise behind the character’s gags for decades to come.

An aggressive duck with a short fuse, Donald brought a much-needed edge back to the Mickey Mouse cartoons. He was drawn by animator Dick Lundy, and his appearance became instantly recognizable. His look included the iconic sailor shirt, matching cap and red bow tie.

Despite being a supporting character in countless cartoons, his outrageous temper made him the primary draw for many of Disney’s audience.

By 1936, Donald went through a makeover that made him appear rounder and cuter. The next year, he began starring in his own films, starting with “Don Donald.” He was then given his own love interest named Donna, who later evolved into Daisy Duck.

1938 saw Donald become the uncle of three nephews called Huey, Dewey and Louie. It was at this point that Donald overtook Mickey in popularity, and became part of the famed Mickey Trio, which included their pal Goofy.

Controversially, the 1940s saw the emergence of a wartime Donald. These propaganda films feature the duck in several real-world situations. These shorts included “Donald Gets Drafted,” and the Academy Award winning animated film “Der Fuehrer’s Face.” In that film, Donald is unwillingly placed under Hitler’s regime.

Throughout wartime, Disney was blocked from showing his cartoons into Occupied Europe, so the studio decided to seek out a new audience in South America. This led to Donald’s shift to cartoons like “Saludos Amigos” and “The Three Caballeros.”

After the war, Donald’s role changed. He became the butt of the other characters’ jokes, with his nephews and a plethora of other characters annoying, pestering and mocking him. This essentially reversed the structure of his skits, and eliminated him as the lead troublemaker. It was around this time he also began starring in a variety of educational films.

Something that did not change was Donald’s rivalry with Mickey. Donald remained jealous and competitive with his pal because he wanted to be the studio’s greatest star. This was often showcased on Disney programs like “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “Disney’s House of Mouse.”

Donald Duck is an icon of the Walt Disney Company, and remains one of the most famous animated characters in the world. He continues to entertain generations of children with his hilarious personality and irreplaceable voice.
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