Clarence Nash

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Clarence Nash
Clarence Nash San Diego Comic Con 1982 crop.jpg
Born
Clarence Charles Nash

(1904-12-07)December 7, 1904
DiedFebruary 20, 1985(1985-02-20) (aged 80)
Resting placeSan Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Other namesDucky Nash
OccupationVoice actor
Years active1932–1985
Known forVoices of Donald Duck (1934–1985) and Daisy Duck (1934-1945)
Spouse(s)
Margaret Seamans (m. 1930)
Children2

Clarence Charles "Ducky" Nash (December 7, 1904 – February 20, 1985) was an American voice actor, best known as the original voice of the Disney cartoon character Donald Duck. He was born in the rural community of Watonga, Oklahoma, and a street in that town is named in his honor. In 1993, he was posthumously made a Disney Legend for his contributions to Walt Disney films.[1]

Early career[edit]

Nash made a name for himself in the late 1920s as an impressionist for KHJ, a Los Angeles radio station, on their show, The Merrymakers. He later was employed by the Adohr Milk Company for publicity purposes. Dubbed "Whistling Clarence, the Adohr Bird Man", Nash rode the streets with a team of miniature horses and gave treats to the children. In 1932, Nash happened by the Disney Studio with his team of horses, and decided to leave a copy of his Adohr publicity sheet with the receptionist. As it turns out, his name was recognized from a reprise appearance on The Merrymakers a few days previous, and Walt Disney himself had been impressed by Nash's vocal skills. He was asked to make an informal audition.

Nash left Donald's "footprints" at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Donald Duck[edit]

Nash went through several of his voices, and Walt Disney happened by when Nash gave his impersonation of a family of ducks. Disney declared Nash perfect for the role of a talking duck in their upcoming animated short, The Wise Little Hen. The duck was Donald Duck, who Nash went on to voice for 51 years, in over 120 shorts and films. The last film to feature Nash's famous voice was 1983's Mickey's Christmas Carol, although he continued to provide Donald's voice for commercials, promos and other miscellaneous material until his death.

Nash's Donald Duck voice was achieved by what is called buccal speech: an alaryngeal form of vocalization which uses the inner cheek to produce sound rather than the larynx.[2] He first discovered it while trying to mimic his pet goat Mary. In his days before Disney, Nash performed in vaudeville shows where he often spoke in a "nervous baby goat" voice.[3]

Donald Duck went on to become one of the most famous cartoon characters in the world, a great part of this due to Nash's voice. The voice is distinctive both for its ducklike quality and the fact that it is often very difficult for anybody to understand, especially when Donald flew into a rage (which happened fairly often). To keep Donald's voice consistent throughout the world, Nash voiced the character in all foreign languages the Disney shorts were translated to (with the aid of the phonetic alphabet), meaning Donald retained his same level of incoherency all across the globe. Mad magazine, in its 1950s comic-strip style satire of Disney characters, featured a "translation" of "Darnold" Duck's "quacky, incomprehensible" voice.

Other characters[edit]

In addition to Donald's voice, Clarence Nash also voiced Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. He provided the Popeye-esque voice for the Rough House statue in Pinocchio and for a bullfrog croaking "Watch out!" in Bambi. Nash also provided the meows of Figaro the kitten in a handful of shorts and did some dog sounds in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. He also voiced Jiminy Cricket for a brief period of time after Cliff Edwards's death in 1971.[4][5] Nash also provided the meows and screeches for Tom in early Tom and Jerry cartoons, although on some instances Harry E. Lang was used instead, creating confusion for researchers. His last performance in Tom and Jerry came in Mouse in Manhattan (1945), where he was the voice of vicious alley cats.

Nash's iconic Donald Duck voice would be near-perfectly impersonated elsewhere in animation, most notably in the Tom and Jerry cartoons directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera with three characters Little Quacker (voiced by Red Coffey) and Yakky Doodle (voiced by Jimmy Weldon). As with most Hanna-Barbera productions, these characters used celebrity impersonations, in these cases an impersonation of Clarence Nash's Donald Duck voice. Because both were so similar to Nash's voice they were often mistakenly attributed to Nash. Likewise, contrary to popular belief, he did not perform the duck voice for Rick Dees' "Disco Duck"; it was one of Dees' acquaintances. Nash would also use his duck voice on The Burns & Allen Show during the 1940s, playing Gracie's pet duck.

Nash appeared as himself in the 1941 movie The Reluctant Dragon, which shows how Disney movies are produced, and was a contestant on a 1954 episode of What's My Line.[6] and a 1964 episode of To Tell the Truth.[7] Nash also appeared as himself in a 1956 episode of Disneyland entitled "A Day in the Life of Donald Duck", in which he interacts with an animated Donald who blames him for his speech problems: the two end up arguing mainly due to Donald's short temper.[8] He was also a guest on a 1976 episode of The Mike Douglas Show. The 1984 special Donald Duck's 50th Birthday included several clips from Disney movies and Disneyland episodes.[9]

Later years[edit]

When Disney shut down their shorts department in 1962, Nash continued to voice Donald in various projects over the next two decades.

In the late 1970s, Nash was known for often taking walks in the neighborhood around Fremont Elementary School in Glendale, California, entertaining children with his Donald Duck voice. As he passed the age of 70, he found the harsh voice increasingly straining on his throat and so limited public performances to groups of children. During recording sessions, he would take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water to avoid overexerting himself.

Grave of Clarence Nash at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery

Nash's final performance before his death was in Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), which made Donald the only character in the film to be voiced by his original actor. With 50 years having elapsed since the first appearance of Donald Duck in The Wise Little Hen, he and Mel Blanc both retained the distinction of performing the same characters longer than any other voice actor in animation history, though they both have since been surpassed by June Foray of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

His career at Disney was the subject of the premiere episode of Disney Family Album, a 1984 series of documentaries about behind-the-scenes personalities at the studio.

Personal life[edit]

Nash married his wife Margaret Seamans in 1930; together they have two children, Kay and Peggy.[10][11]

Death[edit]

Nash died on February 20, 1985 of leukemia in the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California at the age of 80 and was interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California.[12][13] The tombstone of the grave he now shares with his wife Margaret Nash (who died in 1993) depicts a carving of Donald and Daisy Duck holding hands.

Successor[edit]

After Nash's death, Donald's voice has been taken up by Disney animator Tony Anselmo, who was trained under Nash personally. Anselmo is also among the many voiceover artists to have voiced Huey, Dewey and Louie over the years. Later characters whose voices owe considerable credit to Nash's duck voice have been voiced by actors such as Jimmy Weldon, Frank Welker, Luba Goy and Red Coffey. The most prominent of these is Weldon's Yakky Doodle for Hanna-Barbera.

Filmography[edit]

Radio[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1938 The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air Donald Duck
1941–1943 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Herman the Duck
1945 Command Performance Donald Duck

Shorts[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1947 Mickey and the Beanstalk Donald Duck (voice)
1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol Nephew Fred/Donald Duck (voice)

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1941 The Reluctant Dragon Himself, Donald Duck (voice)
1944 The Three Caballeros Donald Duck (voice)
1947 Fun and Fancy Free Donald Duck (voice)
1965 Donald Duck Goes West Donald Duck (voice)

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1954–1985 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Donald Duck/Himself Voice & live-action
1954 What's My Line? Himself (Voice of Donald Duck) Live appearance[14]
1963 To Tell the Truth Himself-Challenger Live appearance
1984 Donald Duck's 50th Birthday Himself/Donald Duck Live-action & voice
Final role

Discography[edit]

  • Mickey and the Beanstalk (Capitol, 1947)[15] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck's Singing Lesson/Pluto, The Pup (Golden, 1949)[16] as Donald Duck
  • Cinderella (RCA, 1949)[17] as Lucifer, Bruno, Major, Additional Animal Voices
  • Mickey's New Car/Donald Duck at the Opera (Golden, 1950)[18] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck, Babysitter/Mickey Mouse and Farmer Rush Rush (Golden, 1950)[18] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck Cowboy (Golden, 1950)[19] as Donald Duck
  • Trick or Treat (RCA Victor, 1952)[20] as Donald Duck
  • Mr. Television (RCA Victor, 1952)[21] as Donald Duck
  • Mr. Animated Cartoon (RCA Victor, 1952)[21] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck, Fire Chief (Golden, 1953)[22] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey Mouse's Birthday Party (Capitol, 1954)[23] as Donald Duck
  • School Days (Golden, 1954)[24] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey Mouse's Christmas Party (Golden, 1954)[24] as Donald Duck
  • Happy Birthday to Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck's Unbirthday (Golden, 1955)[25] as Donald Duck
  • Walt Disney's Song Parade from Disneyland (Golden, 1956)[26] as Donald Duck
  • Goofy's Dance Party (Disneyland, 1959)[27] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck and His Friends (Disneyland, 1960)[28] as Donald Duck
  • Chipmunk Fun (Disneyland, 1963)[29] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey and the Beanstalk (Disneyland, 1963)[15] as Donald Duck
  • Dickens' Christmas Carol Presented by the Walt Disney Players (Disneyland, 1975)[30] as Donald Duck
  • Yankee Doodle Mickey (Disneyland, 1980)[31] as Donald Duck
  • Goin' Quackers (Disneyland, 1980)[28] as Donald Duck
  • Pardners (Disneyland, 1980)[32] as Donald Duck
  • Merry Christmas Carols (Disneyland, 1980)[32] as Donald Duck
  • Mousercise (Disneyland, 1982)[32] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey Mouse Splashdance (Disneyland, 1983)[33] as Donald Duck

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Walt Disney Legends: Clarence Nash" Walt Disney Official Fan Club website (Note: Source is behind a paywall.)
  2. ^ Weinberg, B.; Westerhouse, J. (1971). "A study of buccal speech". Journal of Speech and Hearing Research. 14 (3): 652–8. doi:10.1121/1.1981697. PMID 5163900.
  3. ^ Blitz, Marcia (1979). Donald Duck. New York: Harmony Books. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-517-52961-4.
  4. ^ Barnes, Brooks (2016-09-07). "Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  5. ^ "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". LA Times. 1985-02-21. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  6. ^ "What's My Line". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  7. ^ "To Tell the Truth". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  8. ^ "Disneyland - 2.18 - A Day in the Life of Donald Duck - Part 1 of 4". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  9. ^ "DONALD DUCK 50th BIRTHDAY SPECIAL-#3-Clarence Nash-Star Wars". YouTube. 1954-12-12. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  10. ^ "Clarence Nash is Dead at 80; Donald Duck's Voice in Films". The New York Times. 1985-02-22.
  11. ^ "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". LA Times. 1985-02-21. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  12. ^ "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". LA Times. 1985-02-21. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  13. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (1985-02-21). "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ What's My Line? (2015-09-23), What's My Line? - Clarence "Donald Duck" Nash; Bob Hope (Dec 12, 1954) [W/ COMMERCIALS], retrieved 2019-02-20
  15. ^ a b "Walt Disney’s Fun and Fancy Free on Records, Part 2". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  16. ^ "Golden Records-78 RPM-Label Discography Page 1". Retrieved 2018-11-25. "Original Voices..."
  17. ^ "Walt Disney's "Cinderella" on Records". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  18. ^ a b "Golden Records-78 RPM-Label Discography Page 2". Retrieved 2018-11-25. "Original Voices..."
  19. ^ Billboard. October 14, 1950, P.113. "...are sung by the original D. Duck voice..."
  20. ^ "Walt Disney's "Trick or Treat" with June Foray on Records". Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  21. ^ a b Billboard. June 30, 1951, P.20. "Milton Berle and Clarence Nash, the voice of Disney's Donald Duck, waxed two singles for RCA Victor last week titled respectively "Mr. Television" and "Mr. Animated Cartoon.""
  22. ^ Hollis, Tim (2015). Toons in Toyland: The Story of Cartoon Character Merchandise. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1628461992. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  23. ^ "A Spin Special: Stan Freberg Records". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  24. ^ a b "Golden Records-78 RPM-Label Discography Page 4". Retrieved 2018-11-25. "Original Voices..."
  25. ^ "Mickey's Birthday & Donald's Unbirthday on Golden Records". Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  26. ^ ""Walt Disney's Song Parade from Disneyland" on Golden Records". Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  27. ^ "Suppose Goofy Gave a Dance Party-and He Never Showed Up?". Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  28. ^ a b "Donald Duck's Quacked Records". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  29. ^ "Disney's "Chip 'n' Dale" on Records". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  30. ^ "Mickey's Christmas Carol". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  31. ^ "Mickey Discovers America (and Molly Ringwald) on Records". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  32. ^ a b c Hollis, Tim; Ehrbar, Greg (2006). Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1578068494. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  33. ^ "Mickey Mouse - Splashdance at Discogs". Retrieved 2017-10-07.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
Voice of Donald Duck
1934–1985
Succeeded by
Tony Anselmo