Clarence Nash

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Clarence Nash
Clarence Nash San Diego Comic Con 1982.jpg
Clarence Nash in 1982
Born Clarence Charles Nash
(1904-12-07)December 7, 1904
Watonga, Oklahoma, USA[1]
Died February 20, 1985(1985-02-20) (aged 80)
Glendale, California, USA[1]
Cause of death
Leukemia
Other names Ducky Nash
Occupation Voice actor
Years active 1932–1985
Known for The voice of Donald Duck
Spouse(s) Margaret Seamans
(m. 1930–1985; his death)[1][2]
Children 2[1][3]

Clarence Charles "Ducky" Nash (December 7, 1904 – February 20, 1985) was an American voice actor. He is best known for the Disney cartoon character Donald Duck, whose distinctive voice he provided for 50 years. He was born in the rural community of Watonga, Oklahoma, and a street in that town is named in his honor. He was also the original voice for Tom in Tom and Jerry.

Beginning his 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.

Donald Duck[edit]

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

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, of course, was Donald Duck, who Nash went on to voice for almost 50 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.

Donald Duck went on to become one of the most famous cartoon characters in the world, and a great part of this was due to Nash's distinctive voice. It may well be one of the most recognizable character voices in history. 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 Donald's voice 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, Nash also voiced Daisy Duck (in her earliest appearances, when she was little more than a female version of Donald), as well as Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. He provided the voice for PJ in the cartoon 'Bellboy Donald' and for a bullfrog in Bambi. Nash also provided the meows of Figaro the kitten in a handful of shorts. He did some dog sounds in One Hundred and One Dalmatians and the roars and snarls for the Bear in The Fox and the Hound (Candy Candido provided the character's growls). He also voiced Jiminy Cricket for a brief period of time after Cliff Edwards's death in 1971.[4][5] He also voiced Mickey Mouse in the 1934 Disney short, The Dognapper. Were it would be the only time Nash voices him, Walt was travaling in Europe at the time and was unable to record his lines for Mickey during that time.

Several Tom and Jerry cartoons directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera featured a third main character, a duckling named Little Quacker; Hanna and Barbera would adapt Little Quacker into Yakky Doodle for television. As with most Hanna-Barbera productions, these characters used celebrity impersonations, in these cases an impersonation of Clarence Nash's Donald Duck voice. In these cases, Red Coffey and Jimmy Weldon provided the respective voices, although because both were so similar to Nash's voice they are often mistakenly attributed to Nash.

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, notably performing the song "Macho Duck" on the Mickey Mouse Disco album in the 1970s. (Contrary to popular belief, however, he did not perform the duck voice for Rick Dees' "Disco Duck"; it was one of Dees' acquaintances.)

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 held the distinction of performing the same characters for longer than any other voice actor in animation history, though they both have since been surpassed by June Foray, of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

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 had to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water to avoid over-exerting himself.

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] Nash also appeared as himself in a 1956 episode of Disneyland named 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.[7] He was also a guest on a 1976 episode of The Mike Douglas Show. The 1984 special Donald Duck's 50th Birthday showed several clips from Disney movies and Disneyland episodes, including some of the scenes with Nash and Donald from A Day in the Life of Donald Duck.[8]

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.

Death[edit]

Grave of Clarence Nash at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

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. 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.[9]

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.

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

Filmography[edit]

Films and shorts[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1934 The Wise Little Hen Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
The Flying Mouse Bat (voice, uncredited)
Orphan's Benefit Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
The Dognapper Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
1935 The Band Concert Donald Duck (voice)
Mickey's Service Station Donald Duck (voice)
Mickey's Fire Brigade Donald Duck (voice)
Pluto's Judgement Day Kitten, Cat Judge (voice)
On Ice Donald Duck (voice)
Clock o' the Walk Ducks (voice)
1936 Mickey's Pluto Team Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Orphans' Picnic Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Mickey's Grand Opera Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Moving Day Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Alpine Climbers Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Mickey's Circus Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald and Pluto Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
1937 The Worm Turns Spider, Cat (voice, uncredited)
Don Donald Donald Duck, Donna Duck (voice, uncredited)
Magician Mickey Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Moose Hunters Donald Duck (voice)
Mickey's Amateurs Donald Duck (voice)
Modern Inventions Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Hawaiian Holiday Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Clock Cleaners Donald Duck (voice)
Donald's Ostrich Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Lonesome Ghosts Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
1938 Self Control Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Boat Builders Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Better Self Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Nephews Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice, uncredited)
Mickey's Trailer Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Joy of Leaving Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Polar Trappers Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Good Scouts Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice)
The Fox Hunt Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
I'm from the City Duck (voice, uncredited)
The Whalers Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Farmyard Symphony Duck sounds (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Golf Game Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice)
Mother Goose goes Hollywood Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
1939 Donald's Lucky Day Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
The Hockey Camp Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Cousin Gus Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Beach Picnic Donald Duck (voice)
Sea Scouts Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice, uncredited)
Bachelor Mother Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Penguin Donald Duck (voice)
The Autograph Hound Donald Duck (voice)
Officer Donald Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
1940 Pinocchio Roughhouse Statue, Donkeys (voice, uncredited)
The Riveter Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Dog Laundry Donald Duck (voice)
Tugboat Mickey Donald Duck (voice)
Billposters Donald Duck (voice)
Mr. Duck Steps Out Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice, uncredited)
Put-Put Troubles Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Vacation Donald Duck (voice)
The Volunteer Worker Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Window Cleaners Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Fire Chef Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice, uncredited)
1941 The Reluctant Dragon Donald Duck (voice)
Timber Donald Duck (voice)
Golden Eggs Donald Duck (voice)
A Good Time for a Dime Donald Duck (voice)
Early to Bed Donald Duck (voice)
Truant Officer Donald Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice, uncredited)
Orphans' Benefit Donald Duck (voice)
Old MacDonald Duck Donald Duck (voice)
Donald's Camera Donald Duck (voice)
Chef Donald Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
1942 Donald's Decision Donald Duck (voice)
All Together Donald Duck (voice)
The Village Smithy Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Mickey's Birthday Party Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Symphony Hour Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Snow Fight Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie (voice, uncredited)
Donald Gets Drafted Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)
Donald's Garden Donald Duck (voice)
Donald's Gold Mine Donald Duck (voice)
Bambi Bullfrog (voice, uncredited)
The Vanishing Private Donald Duck (voice, uncredited)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]