Clarence Nash

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Clarence Nash
Clarence Nash San Diego Comic Con 1982 crop.jpg
Nash at the 1982 San Diego Comic-Con
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.
Other namesDucky Nash
OccupationVoice actor
Years active1932–1985
Margaret Seamans
(m. 1930)
AwardsInkpot Award (1978)[1]

Clarence Charles "Ducky" Nash (December 7, 1904 – February 20, 1985) was an American voice actor. He was 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.[2] In 1993, he was posthumously made a Disney Legend for his contributions to Walt Disney films.[3]


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 Theatre in Hollywood.

Donald Duck[edit]

One source indicates Nash auditioned before a casting director for Walt Disney Studios and did a voice impression of a billy goat that Nash had started doing as a child in Watonga. The director then reached for the intercom and told Walt Disney, "I think we have found our duck."[2] Another version indicates 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.

As early as 1938, promoters from lecture circuits were approaching him on his unique voice of Donald. Disney reportedly didn't like the engagements at first, feeling that a human doing the voice would be spoiling the illusion, but then long after he had second thoughts. In early 1941, Nash was traveling on an personal appearance tours sponsored by Disney. During World War II, Nash, with his ventriloquist puppet of Donald, which was built by Disney's character modeling department, became a regular performer at USO bond rallies and other events to support the war effort. In the mid-1940s, Roy and Walt approved the Donald puppet and they decided to harness it for the 1944 re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. RKO and Disney were unsure how the film would do the second time around at the box office after its initial blockbuster run, so they did a promotional campaign with Disney characters including Nash performing with the Donald puppet. During the promotional period of Fun and Fancy Free, he did multiple radio appearances from May to September 1947, with one of those appearances starring Disney himself. He voiced Donald for 1950s TV commercials.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

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.

Other characters[edit]

In addition to Donald's voice, Clarence Nash also voiced Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie and his girlfriend Daisy. He provided the meows and yowls of Figaro the kitten in Pinocchio and in a handful of shorts; in Pinocchio he also provided the Popeye-esque voice for the Rough House statue. He also voiced a bullfrog croaking "Watch out!" in Bambi and also did some dog sounds in One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and also voiced Jiminy Cricket for a brief period of time after Cliff Edwards's death in 1971.[7][8]

Nash's iconic Donald Duck voice would be impersonated elsewhere in animation, most notably in the Tom and Jerry cartoons directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera with the 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.[citation needed] Likewise, contrary to popular belief,[citation needed] 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 film The Reluctant Dragon, which shows how Disney films are produced, and was a contestant on a 1954 episode of What's My Line[9] and a 1964 episode of To Tell the Truth.[10] 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.[11] 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 films and Disneyland episodes.[12]

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.[citation needed]

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 were surpassed by June Foray, who played Rocky from Rocky and Bullwinkle for 55 years (1959-2014) and Granny from Looney Tunes for 56 years (1955-2011).

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; they had two children, Kay and Peggy.[13][14]


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.[15][16] The tombstone of the grave he now shares with his wife Margaret Nash depicts a carving of Donald and Daisy Duck holding hands.

Successor and upcoming biography[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.

Disney historian J.B. Kaufman is currently[when?] working with Margaret Barnes on a biography of Clarence Nash; Barnes is Nash's granddaughter.[4]



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


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


Year Title Role Notes
1934 The Wise Little Hen Donald Duck (voice)
The Flying Mouse Bat (voice)
1935 Pluto's Judgement Day Kitten, Cat Judge, Cat Jury (voice)
1936 Elmer Elephant Joey Hippo (voice)
1939 Donald's Penguin Tootsie the Penguin (voice)
1940 Pinocchio Figaro, Rough House Statue (voice)
1941 The Reluctant Dragon Himself, Donald Duck (voice)
1942 Bambi Bullfrog, Hunter Dogs (voice)
Saludos Amigos Donald Duck (voice)
1944 The Three Caballeros Donald Duck (voice)
1946 Song of the South Mr. Bluebird (voice)
1947 Fun and Fancy Free Donald Duck, Cat (voice)
1949 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Ichabod's Horse, Cat (voice)
1950 Cinderella Birds (voice)
1951 Alice in Wonderland Dinah (voice)
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians Dogs (voice)
1965 Donald Duck Goes West Donald Duck (voice)


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[17]
1963 To Tell the Truth Himself-Challenger Live appearance
1984 Donald Duck's 50th Birthday Himself/Donald Duck Live-action & voice
Final role


  • Mickey and the Beanstalk (Capitol, 1947)[18] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck's Singing Lesson/Pluto, The Pup (Golden, 1949)[19] as Donald Duck
  • Cinderella (RCA, 1949)[20] as Lucifer, Bruno, Major, Additional Animal Voices
  • Mickey's New Car/Donald Duck at the Opera (Golden, 1950)[21] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck, Babysitter/Mickey Mouse and Farmer Rush Rush (Golden, 1950)[21] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck Cowboy (Golden, 1950)[22] as Donald Duck
  • Trick or Treat (RCA Victor, 1952)[23] as Donald Duck
  • Mr. Television (RCA Victor, 1952)[24] as Donald Duck
  • Mr. Animated Cartoon (RCA Victor, 1952)[24] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck, Fire Chief (Golden, 1953)[25] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey Mouse's Birthday Party (Capitol, 1954)[26] as Donald Duck
  • School Days (Golden, 1954)[27] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey Mouse's Christmas Party (Golden, 1954)[27] as Donald Duck
  • Happy Birthday to Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck's Unbirthday (Golden, 1955)[28] as Donald Duck
  • Walt Disney's Song Parade from Disneyland (Golden, 1956)[29] as Donald Duck
  • Goofy's Dance Party (Disneyland, 1959)[30] as Donald Duck
  • Donald Duck and His Friends (Disneyland, 1960)[31] as Donald Duck
  • Chipmunk Fun (Disneyland, 1963)[32] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey and the Beanstalk (Disneyland, 1963)[18] as Donald Duck
  • Dickens' Christmas Carol Presented by the Walt Disney Players (Disneyland, 1975)[33] as Donald Duck
  • Yankee Doodle Mickey (Disneyland, 1980)[34] as Donald Duck
  • Goin' Quackers (Disneyland, 1980)[31] as Donald Duck
  • Pardners (Disneyland, 1980)[35] as Donald Duck
  • Merry Christmas Carols (Disneyland, 1980)[35] as Donald Duck
  • Mousercise (Disneyland, 1982)[35] as Donald Duck
  • Mickey Mouse Splashdance (Disneyland, 1983)[36] as Donald Duck

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ a b "From Donald Duck to Tom and Jerry, this duck tale started in Oklahoma". Jimmie Tramel, Tulsa World, February 2, 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  3. ^ "Walt Disney Legends: Clarence Nash" Walt Disney Official Fan Club website (Note: Source is behind a paywall.)
  4. ^ a b Kaufman, J.B. (August 31, 2020). "Promoting 'Fun and Fancy Free'". Cartoon Research. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  5. ^ Weinberg, Bernd; Westerhouse, Jan (1971). "A Study of Buccal Speech". Journal of Speech and Hearing Research. American Speech Language Hearing Association. 14 (3): 652–658. doi:10.1044/jshr.1403.652. ISSN 0022-4685. PMID 5163900. also published as Weinberg, B.; Westerhouse, J. (1972). "A Study of Buccal Speech". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Acoustical Society of America (ASA). 51 (1A): 652–8. Bibcode:1972ASAJ...51Q..91W. doi:10.1121/1.1981697. ISSN 0001-4966. PMID 5163900.
  6. ^ Blitz, Marcia (1979). Donald Duck. Harmony Books. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-517-52961-4.
  7. ^ Barnes, Brooks (2015). "Movies". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 19, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  8. ^ "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". LA Times. February 21, 1985. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  9. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "What's My Line". YouTube. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  10. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "To Tell the Truth". YouTube. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "Disneyland - 2.18 - A Day in the Life of Donald Duck - Part 1 of 4". YouTube. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  12. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "DONALD DUCK 50th BIRTHDAY SPECIAL-#3-Clarence Nash-Star Wars". YouTube. December 12, 1954. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  13. ^ "Clarence Nash is Dead at 80; Donald Duck's Voice in Films". The New York Times. February 22, 1985.
  14. ^ "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". LA Times. February 21, 1985. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  15. ^ "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". LA Times. February 21, 1985. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  16. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (February 21, 1985). "50-Year Career : Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's Voice, Dies". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: What's My Line? (September 23, 2015), What's My Line? - Clarence "Donald Duck" Nash; Bob Hope (Dec 12, 1954) [W/ COMMERCIALS], retrieved February 20, 2019
  18. ^ a b "Walt Disney's Fun and Fancy Free on Records, Part 2". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  19. ^ "Golden Records-78 RPM-Label Discography Page 1". Retrieved November 25, 2018. "Original Voices..."
  20. ^ "Walt Disney's "Cinderella" on Records". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Golden Records-78 RPM-Label Discography Page 2". Retrieved November 25, 2018. "Original Voices..."
  22. ^ Billboard. October 14, 1950, P.113. "...are sung by the original D. Duck voice..."
  23. ^ "Walt Disney's "Trick or Treat" with June Foray on Records". Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  24. ^ 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.""
  25. ^ Hollis, Tim (2015). Toons in Toyland: The Story of Cartoon Character Merchandise. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1628461992. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  26. ^ "A Spin Special: Stan Freberg Records". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Golden Records-78 RPM-Label Discography Page 4". Retrieved November 25, 2018. "Original Voices..."
  28. ^ "Mickey's Birthday & Donald's Unbirthday on Golden Records". Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  29. ^ ""Walt Disney's Song Parade from Disneyland" on Golden Records". Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  30. ^ "Suppose Goofy Gave a Dance Party-and He Never Showed Up?". Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Donald Duck's Quacked Records". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  32. ^ "Disney's "Chip 'n' Dale" on Records". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  33. ^ "Mickey's Christmas Carol". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  34. ^ "Mickey Discovers America (and Molly Ringwald) on Records". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  35. ^ a b c Hollis, Tim; Ehrbar, Greg (2006). Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1578068494. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  36. ^ "Mickey Mouse - Splashdance at Discogs". Retrieved October 7, 2017.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Voice of Donald Duck
Succeeded by