Donald Duck was born – in Walt Disney’s cartoon The Wise Little Hen – 80 years ago. Here are 10 facts about the cartoon superstar
• DONALD DUCK was created by Walt Disney when he heard Clarence Nash doing his “duck” voice while reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb. Disney wanted a character that was more negative than Mickey Mouse, so the bad-tempered Duck was born. Nash voiced the character from 1934 to 1983, training Tony Anselmo to take over. “Donald, I can’t understand a word ya say,” Mickey Mouse says.
• HIS MIDDLE NAME is Fauntleroy (first revealed in the 1942 film Donald Gets Drafted), and he is reportedly the only major Disney character with an official middle name. He has a twin sister named Dumbella. In the late Thirties, Donald was joined by his perennial girlfriend, Daisy Duck, and by his three mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
• RAY DAVIES of the Kinks namechecks Donald Duck in the opening lines of his 1968 song We are the Village Green Preservation Society, with the lyrics:
We are the Village Green Preservation Society,
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
• A SPECIAL microphone, The Neumann TLM-170, was used to record Donald’s voice. Preferred for its warmth, this microphone also rounds out the high tones and smoothes the “splat” in Donald’s voice.
• DONALD DUCK first appeared on the silver screen on June 9, 1934, in the animated short film, The Wise Little Hen, dancing to the Sailor’s Hornpipe. He has gone on to star in seven feature films–which is more than any of his Disney counterparts. He is six years younger than Mickey Mouse.
• HE WON AN OSCAR for the 1943 animated short Der Feuhrer’s Face, which was originally titled Donald Duck in NutziLand. The anti-Nazi cartoon begins with music from Wagner’s comic opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and also features Groucho Marx’s singing.
• FINNISH voters who want to register a protest vote mark their ballots with the name Donald Duck.
• DONALD DUCK, who usually wears a sailor shirt, cap, and a red or black bow tie, but no trousers, is the only popular film and TV cartoon character to appear as a mascot for the sports team of a major American university, namely, the Oregon Ducks at the University of Oregon.
• WALT DISNEY said of the character: “One of the greatest satisfactions in our work here at the studio is the warm relationship that exists within our cartoon family. Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, and the whole gang have always been a lot of fun to work with. But like many large families, we have a problem child. You’re right, it’s Donald Duck.”
• THE renowned early illustrators of Donald Duck were Al Taliaferro, Carl Barks, and Don Rosa. Donald Duck first appeared as a drawing in a May 1934 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine promoting the June film The Wise Little Hen. The magazine is sought after by collectors.