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Donald Duck

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Donald Duck
Mickey Mouse & Friends and Donald Duck character
First appearanceThe Wise Little Hen (1934)
Created byDick Lundy
Walt Disney[1]
Designed byWalt Disney
Voiced byClarence Nash (1934–1985)
Tony Anselmo (1985–present)
Daniel Ross (2017–2021)
Developed byDick Lundy
Fred Spencer
Carl Barks
Jack King
Jack Hannah
In-universe information
Full nameDonald Fauntleroy Duck[2]
FamilyDuck family
Significant otherDaisy Duck (girlfriend)
RelativesScrooge McDuck (maternal uncle)
Ludwig Von Drake (paternal uncle)[3]
Della Duck (twin sister)
Huey, Dewey, and Louie (nephews)
Gladstone Gander (cousin)
Duck family (paternal relatives)
Clan McDuck (maternal relatives)
Date of birthJune 9[4]

Donald Duck is a cartoon character created by The Walt Disney Company. Donald is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a sailor shirt and cap with a bow tie. Donald is known for his semi-intelligible speech and his mischievous, temperamental, and pompous personality. Along with his friend Mickey Mouse, Donald was included in TV Guide's list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time in 2002,[5] and has earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has appeared in more films than any other Disney character.[6]

Donald Duck appeared in comedic roles in animated cartoons. Donald's first appearance was in The Wise Little Hen (1934), but it was his second appearance in Orphan's Benefit that same year that introduced him as a temperamental comic foil to Mickey Mouse.[7] Throughout the next two decades, Donald appeared in over 150 theatrical films, several of which were recognized at the Academy Awards. In the 1930s, he typically appeared as part of a comic trio with Mickey and Goofy and was given his own film series starting with Don Donald (1937). These films introduced Donald's love interest and permanent girlfriend Daisy Duck and often included his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. After the film Chips Ahoy (1956), Donald appeared primarily in educational films before eventually returning to theatrical animation in Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983). His last appearance in a theatrical film was in Fantasia 2000 (1999). However, since then Donald has appeared in direct-to-video features such as Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (2004), television series such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006–2016), and video games such as QuackShot (1991) and the Kingdom Hearts series.

In addition to animation, Donald is well known worldwide for his appearances in comics. Donald was most famously drawn by Al Taliaferro, Carl Barks, and Don Rosa. Barks, in particular, is credited for greatly expanding the "Donald Duck universe", the world in which Donald lives, and creating many additional characters such as Donald's rich uncle Scrooge McDuck. Donald has been a popular character in Europe, particularly in Nordic countries where his weekly magazine Kalle Anka & C:o was the comics publication with the highest circulation from the 1950s to 2009. In Italy, Donald is a major character in many comics, including a juvenile version named Paperino Paperotto, and a superhero alter ego known as Paperinik (Duck Avenger in the US and Superduck in the UK).



The character is known for possessing an only partly intelligible voice, developed by Donald's original performer, Clarence Nash. During an interview, Tony Anselmo revealed that "Most people believe that Donald's voice is done squeezing air through the cheek, that is not true. I can't reveal how it's actually done, but it is definitely not done by squeezing air through the cheek. The Hanna-Barbera character 'Yakky Doodle' is done that way. Donald Duck is not."[8] Nash reputedly originally developed the voice as that of a "nervous baby goat" before Walt Disney interpreted it as sounding like a duck.[9]


Donald Duck is known for his fiery temper.

The character of Donald Duck is portrayed as a very impatient, immature,[10] and arrogant duck with a pessimistic attitude and an insecure disposition. In addition, his two dominant personality traits are his fiery temper and his upbeat attitude to life. Many Donald shorts start with Donald in a happy mood, without a care in the world until something comes along and spoils his day. His rage is a great cause of suffering in his life. On multiple occasions, it has caused him to get in over his head and lose competitions. There are times when he fights to keep his temper in check, and he sometimes succeeds in doing so temporarily, but he always returns to his normal angry self in the end.

Donald's aggressive nature has its advantages, however. While at times it is a hindrance, and even a handicap, it has also helped him in times of need. When faced with a threat of some kind, for example, Pete's attempts to intimidate him, he is initially scared, but his fear is replaced by anger. As a result, instead of running away, he fights. In fact, his anger can make him powerful enough to defeat ghosts, sharks, mountain goats, giant kites, and even the forces of nature.

Donald is something of a prankster, and as a result, he can sometimes come across as a bit of a bully, especially in the way he sometimes treats Chip n' Dale and Huey, Dewey and Louie, his nephews. As the animator Fred Spencer has put it:

The Duck gets a big kick out of imposing on other people or annoying them, but he immediately loses his temper when the tables are turned. In other words, he can dish it out, but he can't take it.[11]

However, with a few exceptions, there is seldom any harm in Donald's pranks. He almost never intends to hurt anyone, and when his pranks go too far, he is often apologetic. In Truant Officer Donald, for example, when he is tricked into believing he has accidentally killed Huey, Dewey, and Louie, he shows great regret, blaming himself. His nephews appear in the form of angels, and he willingly endures a kick by one of them—that is, of course, until he realizes he has been tricked, whereupon he promptly loses his temper.

Donald is also a bit of a poseur. He likes to brag, especially about how skilled he is at something. He does, in fact, have many skills—he is something of a Jack-of-all-trades. Amongst other things, he is a talented fisher and a competent hockey player. However, his love of bragging often leads him to overestimate his abilities, so that when he sets out to make good on his boasts, he gets in over his head, usually to hilarious effect.

Another of his personality traits is perseverance. Even though he can at times be a slacker, and likes to say that his favorite place to be is in a hammock, once he has committed to accomplishing something he goes for it 100 percent, sometimes resorting to extreme measures to reach his goal.


There is a running gag in the Donald Duck comics about him being physically unhealthy and unmotivated to exercise. Usually, some character close to Donald annoys him by saying he is being lazy and needs to get some exercise. But despite his apparent idleness, Donald proves that he is muscular. In the short film Sea Scouts, Donald is traveling with his nephews in a boat when it is attacked by a shark. Donald makes several attempts to defeat the shark, each of which proves ineffective, but then finally triumphs and defeats the shark with a single well-placed punch. Additionally, as discussed below, Donald had a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II that culminated with him serving as a commando in the film Commando Duck, and he was frequently away serving in the U.S. Navy in the television cartoon series DuckTales.

Friendly rivalry with Mickey Mouse

Throughout his appearances, Donald has shown that he is jealous of Mickey and wants his job as Disney's greatest star, similar to the rivalry between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. In most Disney theatrical cartoons, Mickey and Donald are shown as friends and have little to no rivalry (exceptions being The Band Concert, Magician Mickey and near the end of Symphony Hour, which were due to Donald's antagonistic schemes). However, by the time The Mickey Mouse Club aired on television (after Bugs vs. Daffy cartoons such as the "hunting trilogy" of Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck! Rabbit, Duck!), it was shown that Donald always wanted the spotlight.

One animated short that rivaled the Mickey Mouse March song showed Huey, Dewey, and Louie as Boy Scouts and Donald as their Scoutmaster at a cliff near a remote forest and Donald leads them in a song mirroring the Mouseketeers theme "D-O-N-A-L-D D-U-C-K! Donald Duck!" The rivalry has caused Donald some problems, for example in a 1988 TV special, where Mickey is cursed by a sorcerer to become unnoticed, the world believes Mickey to be kidnapped. Donald Duck is then arrested for the kidnapping of Mickey, as he is considered to be the chief suspect, due to their feud. However, Donald did later get the charges dismissed, due to lack of evidence. Walt Disney, in his Wonderful World of Color, would sometimes make reference to the rivalry. Walt, one time, had presented Donald with a gigantic birthday cake and commented how it was "even bigger than Mickey's", which pleased Donald. The clip was rebroadcast in November 1984 during a TV special honoring Donald's 50th birthday, with Dick Van Dyke substituting for Walt.

The rivalry between Mickey and Donald was shown in the 2001-2003 television series House of Mouse. It was shown that Donald wanted to be the club's founder and wanted to change the name from House of Mouse to House of Duck, which is obvious in the episodes "The Stolen Cartoons" and "Timon and Pumbaa". In the episode "Everybody Loves Mickey", Donald's jealousy is explored and even joins sides with Mortimer Mouse. However, Donald has a change of heart when Daisy reminds Donald how Mickey has always been there to support him. Since then, Donald accepted that Mickey was the founder and worked with Mickey as a partner to make the club profitable and successful.


Donald has numerous enemies, who range from comical foil to annoying nemesis: Chip 'n' Dale, Pete, Humphrey the Bear, Spike the Bee, Mountain Lion Louie, Bootle Beetle, Witch Hazel (in Trick or Treat), Aracuan Bird and Baby Shelby (in Mickey Mouse Works). During the Second World War, Donald was often set against Adolf Hitler.[12]

In the comics, he is often harassed or on the run from the Beagle Boys, Magica De Spell, Gladstone Gander and Mr. Jones.

In the video game Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers, he saves Daisy from Merlock.

The Italian-produced comic PKNA – Paperinik New Adventures stars Donald Duck as Paperinik, or Duck Avenger, in his battles against new alien enemies: Evronian Empire, founded by emperor Evron.


Voice performer Clarence Nash auditioned for Walt Disney Studios when he learned that Disney was looking for people to create animal sounds for his cartoons. Disney was particularly impressed with Nash's duck imitation and chose him to voice the new character. Disney came up with Donald's iconic attributes including his short temper and his sailor suit (based on ducks and sailors both being associated with water).[13] While Dick Huemer and Art Babbit were the first to animate Donald, Dick Lundy is credited for developing him as a character.[14]

On April 29, 1934, five days before The Wise Little Hen's first theatrical release, bandleader Raymond Paige performed the score to the cartoon on his California Melodies program for the Los Angeles AM radio station KHJ. The main vocals were performed by a trio, the Three Rhythm Kings. Clarence Nash and Florence Gill performed the character voices for this radio treatment, with Nash performing both Donald Duck and Peter Pig, making it the first time the public heard Nash's duck voice.[15]

An apocryphal alternative story for how Donald was created came about from a claim that Disney was watching an exhibition cricket match between Australia and the New York West Indians and Australia's star batsman Don Bradman was out for a duck. Disney allegedly used this as inspiration for the character. However, the veracity of this has been doubted by modern historians.[16]


Early development

Donald Duck as he first appeared in The Wise Little Hen (1934)

Donald Duck's first film appearance was in the 1934 cartoon The Wise Little Hen, which was part of the Silly Symphonies series of theatrical cartoon shorts.[17] The film's given release date of June 9 is officially recognized by the Walt Disney Company as Donald's birthday,[18] though historian J.B. Kaufman, consultant of The Walt Disney Family Museum, discovered in recent years that The Wise Little Hen was first shown on May 3, 1934, at the Carthay Circle Theater for a benefit program, while its official debut was on June 7 at the Radio City Music Hall.[15] Donald's appearance in the cartoon, as created by animator Dick Lundy, is similar to his modern look – the feather and beak colors are the same, as are the blue sailor shirt and hat – but his features are more elongated, his body plumper, his feet smaller, and his sclerae white. Donald's personality is not developed either; in the short, he only fills the role of the unhelpful friend from the original story.

Burt Gillett brought Donald back in a 1934 Mickey Mouse cartoon, Orphans' Benefit. Donald is one of a number of characters who are giving performances in a benefit for Mickey's Orphans.[19] Donald's act is to recite the poems Mary Had a Little Lamb and Little Boy Blue, but every time he tries, the mischievous orphans heckle him, leading the duck to fly into a squawking fit of anger. This explosive personality would remain with Donald for decades to come.

Donald continued to be a hit with audiences. The character began appearing regularly in most Mickey Mouse cartoons. Cartoons from this period, such as the cartoon The Band Concert (1935) – in which Donald repeatedly disrupts the Mickey Mouse Orchestra's rendition of The William Tell Overture by playing Turkey in the Straw – are regularly noted by critics as exemplary films and classics of animation. Animator Ben Sharpsteen also created the classic Mickey, Donald, and Goofy comedy in 1935, with the cartoon Mickey's Service Station.[19]

In 1936, Donald was redesigned to be a bit fuller, rounder, and cuter, beginning with the cartoon Moving Day. He also began starring in solo cartoons, the first of which was Ben Sharpsteen's 1937 cartoon, Don Donald. This short also introduced a love interest of Donald's, Donna Duck, who evolved into Daisy Duck.[20] Donald's nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, would make their first animated appearance a year later in the 1938 film, Donald's Nephews, directed by Jack King (they had been earlier introduced in the Donald Duck comic strip by Al Taliaferro, see below). By 1938, most polls showed that Donald was more popular than Mickey Mouse.[21]


Donald worked in a Nazi factory in Der Fuehrer's Face (1943).

During World War II, Donald appeared in several animated propaganda films, including the 1943 Der Fuehrer's Face. In this cartoon, Donald plays a worker in an artillery factory in "Nutzi Land" (Nazi Germany). He struggles with long working hours, very small food rations,[22] and having to salute every time he sees a picture of the Führer (Adolf Hitler). These pictures appear in many places, such as on the assembly line in which he is screwing in the detonators of various sizes of shells. In the end, he becomes little more than a small part in a faceless machine with no choice but to obey until he falls, suffering a nervous breakdown. Then Donald wakes up to find that his experience was, in fact, a dream. At the end of the short, Donald looks to the Statue of Liberty and the American flag with renewed appreciation. Der Fuehrer's Face won the 1942 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. Der Fuehrer's Face was also the first of two animated short films to be set during the War to win an Oscar, the other being Tom and Jerry's short film, The Yankee Doodle Mouse.[23]

Other shorts from this period include a six film mini-series that follows Donald's life in the U.S. Army from his drafting to his experiences in basic training under Sergeant Pete to his first actual mission as a commando having to sabotage a Japanese air base. Titles in the series include:

Thanks in part to these films, Donald graced the nose artwork of virtually every type of World War II Allied combat aircraft, from the L-4 Grasshopper to the B-29 Superfortress.[25]

Donald also appears as a mascot—such as in the United States Army Air Forces' 309th Fighter Squadron[26] and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, which showed Donald as a fierce-looking pirate ready to defend the American coast from invaders.[27] Donald also appeared as a mascot emblem for the 415th Fighter Squadron; 438th Fighter Squadron; 479th Bombardment Squadron; and 531st Bombardment Squadron. He also appeared as the mascot for the Fire Department at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, as well as the Army Air Forces (now currently the United States Air Force) 319 Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Luke Air Force Base — where he is seen wearing an old-style pilot's uniform with a board with a nail in it in one hand, and a lightning bolt in the other hand. Donald's most famous appearance, however, was on the North American Aviation B-25B Mitchell medium bomber (S/N 40-2261) piloted by Lt. Ted W. Lawson of the 95th Bombardment Squadron, USAAF. The aircraft, named the "Ruptured Duck" and carrying a picture of Donald's face above a pair of crossed crutches, was one of sixteen B-25Bs which took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo on April 18, 1942, during the Doolittle Raid. The mission was led by Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Jimmy Doolittle. Like most of the aircraft that participated in the mission, the Ruptured Duck was unable to reach its assigned landing field in China following the raid and ended up ditching off the coast near Shangchow, China. The Ruptured Duck's pilot survived, with the loss of a leg, and later wrote about the Doolittle Raid in the book, later to be the 1944 movie, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.

During World War II, Disney cartoons were not allowed to be imported into Occupied Europe owing to their propagandistic content. Since this lost Disney revenue, he decided to create a new audience for his films in South America. He decided to make a trip through various Latin American countries with his assistants, and use their experiences and impressions to create two feature-length animation films. The first was Saludos Amigos (1942), which consisted of four short segments, two of them with Donald Duck. In the first, he meets his parrot pal José Carioca. The second film was The Three Caballeros (1944), in which he meets his rooster friend Panchito.

Several decades after the war, on account of the fact that Donald was never officially separated from service in either his animated shorts or his comic strips, as part of Donald's 50th Birthday celebrations during the 25th Annual Torrance, California Armed Forces Day Parade, the U.S. Army retired Donald Duck from active duty as a "Buck Sergeant"[28] (i.e. "Buck Sergeant Duck").[29]


Many of Donald's films made after the war recast the duck as the brunt of some other character's pestering. Donald is seen repeatedly attacked, harassed, and ridiculed by his nephews, by the chipmunks Chip 'n' Dale, or by other characters such as Humphrey the Bear, Spike the Bee, Bootle Beetle, the Aracuan Bird, Louie the Mountain Lion, or a colony of ants. In effect, much like Bugs Bunny cartoons from Warner Bros, the Disney artists had reversed the classic screwball scenario perfected by Walter Lantz and others in which the main character is the instigator of these harassing behaviors, rather than the butt of them.

The post-war Donald also starred in educational films, such as Donald in Mathmagic Land and How to Have an Accident at Work (both 1959), and made cameos in various Disney projects, such as The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and the Disneyland television show (1959). For this latter show, Donald's uncle Ludwig von Drake was created in 1961. Another uncle, Scrooge McDuck, made his first animated appearance on the program in 1967, after decades as a comics-only character.

In Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Donald has a piano duel scene with his Warner Brothers counterpart Daffy Duck voiced by Mel Blanc. Donald has since appeared in several different television shows and (short) animated movies. He played roles in The Prince and the Pauper (1990) and made a cameo appearance in A Goofy Movie (1995).

Donald had a rather small part in the animated television series DuckTales. There, Donald joins the U.S. Navy and leaves his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie with their Uncle Scrooge, who then has to take care of them. Donald's role in the overall series was fairly limited, as he only ended up appearing in a handful of episodes when home on leave. Some of the stories in the series were loosely based on the comics by Carl Barks.

Donald made some cameo appearances in Bonkers, before getting his own television show Quack Pack. This series featured a modernized Duck family. Donald was no longer wearing his sailor suit and hat, but a Hawaiian shirt. Huey, Dewey, and Louie now are teenagers, with distinct clothing, voices, and personalities. Daisy Duck has lost her pink dress and bow and has a new haircut. No other family members, besides Ludwig von Drake, appear in Quack Pack, and all other Duckburg citizens are humans and not dogs.

He made a comeback as the star of the "Noah's Ark" segment of Fantasia 2000 (1999), as first mate to Noah. Donald musters the animals to the Ark and attempts to control them. He tragically believes that Daisy has been lost, while she believes the same of him, but they are reunited at the end. All this to Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches 1–4.

In an alternate opening for the Disney film Chicken Little (2005), Donald would have made a cameo appearance as "Ducky Lucky". This scene can be found on the Chicken Little DVD.

Donald in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Donald also played an important role in Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse. In the latter show, he is the co-owner of Mickey's nightclub. He is part of the ensemble cast of characters in the TV show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as well. He also appears in the new 3-minute Mickey Mouse TV shorts for Disney Channel.

Donald also appears in the DuckTales reboot, in which he is a main character as opposed to his minor role in the original cartoon. The series depicts him as having once been Scrooge's partner in adventure along with his sister Della. However, ten years prior to the series' beginning, Della went missing, leading to Donald and Scrooge going their separate ways and not speaking to each other throughout that time. In the present, Donald reluctantly brings Della's sons and his legal charges, the triplets, to Scrooge's mansion so he can babysit them while Donald attends a job interview, though he still has not forgiven Scrooge for their past history. Donald is temporarily hired by Scrooge's rival Flintheart Glomgold and ends up at the city of Atlantis, where Scrooge has also brought the boys. After some initial conflict Scrooge offers to let them stay with him in his mansion. Donald owns a boat in the series, which is relocated to Scrooge's pool at the conclusion of the series premiere. Later in the series, it is revealed that Donald's anger is the result of a fear that no one can understand him, though with the help of an anger management counselor and while taking care of Huey, Dewey, Louie, he was able to channel it into protective instinct.

Voice actors

Tony Anselmo and Clarence Nash

Donald's first voice was performed by Clarence Nash, who voiced him for 50 years.[30] Nash voiced Donald for the last time in Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), making Donald the only character in the film to be voiced by his original voice actor. He did, however, continue to provide Donald's voice for commercials, promos, and other miscellaneous material until he died in 1985. Jack Wagner voiced Donald and other Disney characters in the 1980s, primarily for live entertainment offerings in the parks, Disney on Ice shows, and live-action clips for television.)

Since Nash died, Donald's voice has been performed by Disney animator, Tony Anselmo, who was mentored by Nash for the role.[31] Anselmo's first performance as Donald is heard in a 1986 D-TV special, D-TV Valentine on The Disney Channel, and in his first feature film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in 1988.

Walt Disney insisted on character consistency and integrity. Continuing in that tradition, in 1988, Roy E. Disney created the department of Disney Character Voices to ensure continuation of character integrity, consistency, and quality in recording methods. Roy named one official voice for all Walt Disney legacy characters. Tony Anselmo was approved by Roy E. Disney as Disney's official voice of Donald Duck.[32]

For the TV series Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Donald was voiced by voice actor Daniel Ross.[33][34] Anselmo continues as the official voice of Donald Duck on all Disney projects, Mickey Mouse Funhouse, Mickey Mouse shorts, Legend of the Three Caballeros, Kingdom Hearts IIII, Disney Parks, attractions, and consumer products.

In the 2017 reboot of DuckTales, a young Donald was voiced by Russi Taylor in the episode, "Last Christmas!", using the same voice that she used for Huey, Dewey, and Louie in various Disney media. After Taylor's death in 2019, she was replaced by Cristina Vee in the episode, "The First Adventure!".[35] An alternate version of Donald's voice was provided by Don Cheadle in the episode "The Shadow War!", after he takes a pill that makes his voice more intelligible.[36][37] This voice returned in the episode, "Quack Pack!".


While Donald's cartoons continue to be shown in the United States and around the world, his weekly and monthly comic books enjoy their highest profile in many European countries, especially Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, but also Germany, the Netherlands, and Greece. Most of them are produced and published by the Italian branch of the Walt Disney Company in Italy (Disney Italy) and by Egmont in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. In Germany, the comics are published by Ehapa which has since become part of the Egmont empire. Donald comics have also been produced in The Netherlands and France. Donald also has been appeared in Japanese comics published by Kodansha and Tokyopop.

According to the Inducks, which is a database about Disney comics worldwide, American, Italian and Danish stories have been reprinted in the following countries. In most of them, publications still continue: Australia, Austria, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark (Faroe Islands), Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the former Yugoslavia.

Early development

The character's first appearance in comic strip format was the 1934 Silly Symphony comic strip sequence based on the short The Wise Little Hen.[38] For the next few years, Donald made a few more appearances in Disney-themed strips, and by 1936, he had grown to be one of the main characters in the Silly Symphony strip. Ted Osborne was the primary writer of these strips, with Al Taliaferro as his artist. Osborne and Taliaferro also introduced several members of Donald's supporting cast, including his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

In 1937, an Italian publisher named Mondadori created the first Donald Duck story intended specifically for comic books. The eighteen-page story, written by Federico Pedrocchi, is the first to feature Donald as an adventurer rather than simply a comedic character. Fleetway in England also began publishing comic book stories featuring the duck.

Developments under Taliaferro

A daily Donald Duck comic strip drawn by Taliaferro and written by Bob Karp began running in the United States on February 2, 1938; the Sunday strip began the following year. Taliaferro and Karp created an even larger cast of characters for Donald's world. He got a new St. Bernard named Bolivar,[39] and his family grew to include cousin Gus Goose and grandmother Elvira Coot. Donald's new rival girlfriends were Donna and Daisy Duck. Taliaferro also gave Donald his very own automobile, a 1934 Belchfire Runabout, in a 1938 story, which is often nicknamed by Donald's "313" car plate in the comic incarnation of Donald's world.

Developments under Barks

Carl Barks (1901–2000)

In 1942, Western Publishing began creating original comic book stories about Donald and other Disney characters. Bob Karp worked on the earliest of these, a story called "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold". The new publisher meant new illustrators, however, Carl Barks and Jack Hannah would later repeat the treasure hunting theme in many more stories.

Barks soon took over the major development of the duck as both writer and illustrator. Under his pen, Donald became more adventurous, less temperamental and more eloquent. Pete was the only other major character from the Mickey Mouse comic strip to feature in Barks' new Donald Duck universe.

Barks placed Donald in the city of Duckburg, creating a host of supporting players, including Neighbor Jones (1944), Uncle Scrooge McDuck (1947), Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952), April, May and June (1953), Flintheart Glomgold (1956), Magica de Spell (1961), and John D. Rockerduck (1961). Many of Taliaferro's characters made the move to Barks' world as well, including Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Barks placed Donald in both domestic and adventure scenarios, and Uncle Scrooge became one of his favorite characters to pair up with Donald. Scrooge's profile increased, and by 1952, the character had a comic book of his own. At this point, Barks concentrated his major efforts on the Scrooge stories, and Donald's appearances became more focused on comedy or he was recast as Scrooge's helper, following his rich uncle around the globe.

Further developments

Dozens of writers continued to utilize Donald in their stories around the world.

For example, the Disney Studio artists, who made comics directly for the European market. Two of them, Dick Kinney (1917–1985) and Al Hubbard (1915–1984) created Donald's cousin Fethry Duck.

The American artists Vic Lockman and Tony Strobl (1915–1991), who were working directly for the American comic books, created Moby Duck. Strobl was one of the most productive Disney artists of all time and drew many stories which Barks wrote and sketched after his retirement. In the 1990s and early 2000s, these scripts were re-drawn in a style closer to Barks' own by Dutch artist Daan Jippes.

Italian publisher Mondadori created many of the stories that were published throughout Europe. They also introduced numerous new characters who are today well known in Europe. One example is Donald Duck's alter ego, a superhero called Paperinik in Italian, created in 1969 by Guido Martina (1906–1991) and Giovan Battista Carpi (1927–1999).

Giorgio Cavazzano and Carlo Chendi created Umperio Bogarto, a detective whose name is an obvious parody on Humphrey Bogart. They also created O.K Quack, an extraterrestrial Duck who landed on earth in a spaceship in the shape of a coin. He, however, lost his spaceship and befriended Scrooge, and now is allowed to search through his money bin time after time, looking for his ship.

Romano Scarpa (1927–2005), who was a very important and influential Italian Disney artist, created Brigitta McBridge, a female Duck who is madly in love with Scrooge. Her affections are never answered by him, though, but she keeps trying. Scarpa also came up with Dickie Duck, the granddaughter of Glittering Goldie (Scrooge's possible love interest from his days in the Klondike) and Kildare Coot, a nephew of Grandma Duck.

Italian artist Corrado Mastantuono created Bum Bum Ghigno, a cynical, grumpy and not too good-looking Duck who teams up with Donald and Gyro a lot.

The American artist William Van Horn also introduced a new character: Rumpus McFowl, an old and rather corpulent Duck with a giant appetite and laziness, who is first said to be a cousin of Scrooge. Only later, Scrooge reveals to his nephews Rumpus is actually his half-brother. Later, Rumpus also finds out.

Working for the Danish editor Egmont, artist Daniel Branca (1951–2005) and scriptwriters Paul Halas and Charlie Martin created Sonny Seagull, an orphan who befriends Huey, Dewey and Louie, and his rival, Mr. Phelps.

One of the most productive Duck artists used to be Victor Arriagada Rios, (deceased 2012) better known under the name Vicar. He had his own studio where he and his assistants drew the stories sent in by Egmont. With writer/editors Stefan and Unn Printz-Påhlson, Vicar created the character Oona, a prehistoric duck princess who traveled to modern Duckburg by using Gyro's time machine. She stayed and is still seen in occasional modern stories.

The best known Duck artist of this time is American Don Rosa. He started doing Disney comics in 1987 for the American publisher Gladstone. He later worked briefly for the Dutch editors but moved to work directly for Egmont soon afterwards. His stories contain many direct references to stories by Carl Barks, and he also wrote and illustrated a 12-part series of stories about the life of Scrooge McDuck, which won him two Eisner Awards.

Other important artists who have worked with Donald are Freddy Milton and Daan Jippes, who made 18 ten-pagers which experts claim, were very difficult to separate from Barks' own work from the late 1940s.

Japanese artist Shiro Amano worked with Donald on the graphic novel Kingdom Hearts based on the Disney-Square Enix video game.

Nordic countries

Donald Duck is known in Nordic countries as Kalle Anka in Sweden,[40] Anders And in Denmark, Andrés Önd in Iceland, Donald Duck in Norway,[41] and Aku Ankka in Finland.[40] In the mid-1930s, Robert S. Hartman, a German who served as a representative of Walt Disney, visited Sweden to supervise the merchandise distribution of Sagokonst (The Art of Fables). Hartman found a studio called L'Ateljé Dekoratör, which produced illustrated cards that were published by Sagokonst. Since the Disney characters on the cards appeared to be exactly 'on-model', Hartman asked the studio to create a local version of the English-language Mickey Mouse Weekly.

In 1937 L'Ateljé Dekoratör began publishing Musse Pigg Tidningen (Mickey Mouse Magazine), which had high production values and spanned 23 issues; most of the magazine's content came from local producers, while some material consisted of reprints from Mickey Mouse Weekly. The comic anthology ended in 1938. Hartman helped Disney establish offices in all Nordic countries before he left Disney in 1941. Donald became the most successful of the Disney characters in the Nordic countries,[40] and Nordic peoples recognise him better than Mickey Mouse.[citation needed]

Kalle Anka & C:o, (Donald Duck & Co.) Donald's first dedicated Swedish anthology, started in September 1948. In 2001 the Finnish Post Office issued a stamp set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Donald's presence in Finland. By 2005 around one out of every four Norwegians read the Norwegian edition Donald Duck & Co. per week, translating to around 1.3 million regular readers. During the same year, every week 434,000 Swedes read Kalle Anka & C:o. By 2005 in Finland the Donald Duck anthology Aku Ankka sold 270,000 copies per issue. Tim Pilcher and Brad Books, authors of The Essential Guide to World Comics, described the Donald anthologies as "the Scandinavian equivalent of the UK's Beano or Dandy, a comic that generations have grown up with, from grandparents to grandchildren".[40]

Hannu Raittila, an author, says that Finnish people recognize an aspect of themselves in Donald; Raittila cites that Donald attempts to retrieve himself from "all manner of unexpected and unreasonable scrapes using only his wits and the slim resources he can put his hands on, all of which meshes nicely with the popular image of Finland as driftwood in the crosscurrents of world politics". Finnish voters placing protest votes typically write "Donald Duck" as the candidate.[42] In Sweden voters often voted for Donald Duck or the Donald Duck Party as a nonexistent candidate until a 2006 change in voting laws, which prohibited voting for nonexistent candidates. In a twenty-year span, Donald won enough votes to be, in theory, Sweden's ninth-most popular political organization. In 1985, Donald received 291 votes in an election for the Parliament of Sweden.[43]

By 1978, within Finland, there was a debate over the morality of Donald Duck. Matti Holopainen jokingly criticized Donald for living with Daisy while not being married to her, for not wearing trousers, and for, in the words of the Library Journal, being "too bourgeois".[44][45] Some observers from Finland from the same time period supported Donald, referring to him as a "genuine proletarian ... forced to sell his labor at slave rates to make a living". The Library Journal said it was revealed that, since 1950, Donald had secretly been married to Daisy.[46] An annual Christmas special in Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden is From All of Us to All of You, in Norway and Sweden with a title of Donald Duck and His Friends Celebrate Christmas. Segments include Ferdinand the Bull, a short with Chip 'n' Dale, a segment from Lady and the Tramp, a sneak preview of a coming Disney movie and concludes with Jiminy Cricket performing "When You Wish Upon a Star". To many people watching this special is a tradition as important as having a Christmas tree.[citation needed]


Donald Duck-themed comics sell an average of 250,000 copies each week in Germany, mostly published in the kids' weekly Micky Maus and the monthlies Donald Duck Special (for adults) and Lustiges Taschenbuch [de].[47] The Wall Street Journal called Donald Duck "The Jerry Lewis of Germany", a reference to American star Jerry Lewis' popularity in France.[47] Donald's dialogue in German comics tends to be more sophisticated and philosophical, he "quotes from German literature, speaks in grammatically complex sentences and is prone to philosophical musings, while the stories often take a more political tone than their American counterparts",[47] features especially associated with Erika Fuchs's German translations of the comics created by The Good Duck Artist Carl Barks. Christian Pfeiler – former president of D.O.N.A.L.D., the German Organization for Non-commercial Followers of Pure Donaldism (German: Deutsche Organisation nichtkommerzieller Anhänger des lauteren Donaldismus) – says Donald is appreciated in Germany because "almost everyone can identify with him. He has strengths and weaknesses; he lacks polish but is also very cultured and well-read."[47] It is through this everyman persona that Donald is able to voice philosophical truths about German society that appeal to both children and adults.[47] Donald's writers and illustrators Carl Barks, Don Rosa and Ub Iwerks are well known in Germany and have their own fan clubs.


In Italy, new stories about Donald Duck (named Paolino Paperino) and Scrooge McDuck are hosted in the kids' weekly Topolino and the monthly Paperino. While Paperino is written by many authors, he still maintains several characteristics. He is mostly an everyman, but the fierce, harsh temper he has in the American comic appears to be diluted into a meek, weaker personality, prone to comical fits of rage that are mostly subdued by the realization of its impotence. His frustration at Gladstone's luck is comically enhanced: in the Italian comics, Donald is chronically unlucky, unable to do or get anything right, with Gladstone taking advantage of his superiority or taking genuine pity of his unlucky cousin and trying several plans to grant him some better luck, always failing.

Donald Duck as Paperinik, also known as Duck Avenger and Superduck outside Italy. Art by Marco Rota.

However, the constant search for an outlet to vent his frustration led the Italian rendition of Donald Duck to seek his catharsis in several ways: in the sixties, vexed by Scrooge's antics and Gladstone's luck, he reinvented himself as Paperinik, the Duck Avenger (as he came to be known outside Italy), an anti-hero at first, a self-assured, well-adjusted, brilliant hero in later stories, no longer bound by the self-doubt and the mockery Donald is constantly subjected.[48] Duck Avenger is referred to the character Dorellik (parody of Diabolik) performed by Johnny Dorelli, Italian actor and crooner, in the Anglo-Italian movie Arriva Dorellik (How To Kill 400 Duponts). Further along the years, he fashioned for himself the additional identities of QQ7, a bumbling secret agent protecting Scrooge's riches[49] and DoubleDuck, a more confident and suave secret agent, in the mold of James Bond, a more equilibrate mold of the heroic Duck Avenger and the tricky QQ7, often accompanied by the beautiful spy Kay K.[50] Donald's "secret identies" are hosted in the main Topolino comics, but also in several themed comics, like the now-defunct Paperinik, PKNA, PK^2 and the current Paperinik AppGrade, the latter hosting reprints and new stories as well. Paperinik / Duck Avenger also appeared in the video games PK: Out of the Shadows, PK: Phantom Duck,[51] and The Duckforce Rises.

Having several full lives to live does not hamper Donald's ability to live adventures on his own: he still lives adventures with his uncle Scrooge and his nephews (often acting as a reluctant bumbler, a ballast to the enthusiasm of his nephews and the wanderlust of his uncle), and he lived a star-crossed love story with a princess from another planet, Reginella.[52] Despite Reginella leaving a deep trace in Donald's heart, he is still depicted as extremely faithful to Daisy, with a small hiccup deriving by Daisy Duck having a secret identity on her own (Paperinika), with Paperinik and Paperinika, both unaware of their secret identities, cultivating a permanent status of belligerent tension.

He also keeps a cheerful rivalry with his neighbour Bum Bum Ghigno, more a bumbler and a nuisance than he is, but still a good person at heart.

The Italian rendition of Donald Duck seldom, if ever, goes by his first name, having everyone, including his nephews, Daisy and Uncle Scrooge, address him as Paperino (his Italian surname).

He also appears in the Topolino comics depicting his childhood, called Paperino Paperotto (English: Donald Duckling), which were first produced in Italy in 1998. He lives in the fictional town, Quack Town with Grandma Duck and Billy Goat.

Disney theme parks

Donald's house boat at Mickey's Toontown, Disneyland

Donald Duck has played a major role in many Disney theme parks over the years. He has actually been seen in more attractions and shows at the parks than Mickey Mouse has. He has appeared over the years in such attractions as Animagique, Mickey Mouse Revue, Mickey's PhilharMagic, Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros and the updated version of "It's a Small World". He also is seen in the parks as a meet-and-greet character.

Children's books

Donald has been a frequent character in children's books beginning in 1935. Most of these books were published by Whitman Publishing, later called Western Publishing, or one of its subsidiaries. The following is a list of children's books in which Donald is the central character. This does not include comic books or activity books such as coloring books. It also does not include the 1931 book The Adventures of Mickey Mouse, which features an entirely different character also named Donald Duck.[53]

Beyond Disney

Donald's footprints at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The prints were made during the celebration of Donald's 50th birthday.
  • Donald is the only significant film and television cartoon character to appear as a mascot for a major American university: a licensing agreement between Disney and the University of Oregon allows the school's sports teams to use Donald's image as its "Fighting Duck" mascot. In 1984, Donald Duck was named an honorary alumnus of the University of Oregon during his 50th birthday celebration. During a visit to the Eugene Airport, 3,000 to 4,000 fans gathered for the presentation of an academic cap and gown to Donald. Thousands of area residents signed a congratulatory scroll for Donald, and that document is now part of Disney's corporate archives.
  • Donald was one of the few celebrities mentioned in the original version of the song Hooray for Hollywood, which was first featured in the 1937 film Hollywood Hotel, released only 3 years after Donald's first appearance. While later versions of the song would change lyrics, the line mentioning Donald was always kept.
  • In the 1940s, Donald was adopted as the mascot of Brazilian sports club Botafogo after Argentinean cartoonist Lorenzo Mollas, who was working in Brazil at the time, drew him with the club's soccer uniform. Mollas chose Donald because he complains and fights for his rights, like the club's managers at those years, and also because, being a duck, he does not lose his elegance while moving in the water (an allusion to rowing). He was eventually replaced so that the club would not have to pay royalties to Disney (Botafogo's current official mascot is Manequinho, a boy who represents the Manneken Pis statue in front of the club's head office), but has since retained the status of unofficial mascot.
  • Donald's name and image are used on numerous commercial products, one example being Donald Duck brand orange juice, introduced by Citrus World in 1940.
  • Donald Duck was temporarily listed as a "hired" employee in the database of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development as late as 1978. Given a $99,999 salary – more than double the $47,500 take federal civil servants were legally limited to be paid at the time – the name was unchallenged by a computer intended to catch government payroll fraud. Picked as one of thirty fictitious names by the Government Accounting Office, the use of it was a test to see if the payroll system of the HUD could be manipulated to defraud the government.[54]
  • Donald Duck's head and neck, wearing a radio headset and wrapped in earphone wires with an expression of pain on his face and with crossed crutches below, was the nose art on Lieutenant Ted W. Lawson's B-25 Mitchell bomber, the Ruptured Duck, on the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942.
  • In the 1950s, an early Mad Magazine parody of Mickey Mouse (called "Mickey Rodent", written by "Walt Dizzy") featured "Darnold Duck", whose quacky voice had to be "translated" for the readers, and who was shamed into finally wearing pants.
  • Although Donald's military service during his wartime cartoons has mostly been in the U.S. Army (and to a lesser extent in the U.S. Navy in DuckTales), Walt Disney authorized Donald to be used as a mascot for the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard image shows a fierce-looking Donald Duck dressed in a pirate's outfit, appearing vigilant against any potential threats to the coastal regions in the United States. This image is often used on Coast Guard bases and Coast Guard cutters.
  • Donald Duck is referred to in the song "The Village Green Preservation Society" by The Kinks: "We are the Village Green Preservation Society/ God save Donald Duck, vaudeville, and variety..." The reference is ironical, as the singer is lamenting the disappearance of perceived traditional English cultural artifacts.
  • Donald Duck makes a cameo appearance in the cartoon sequence in 200 Motels (1971).
  • During the late 1970s, Donald had his first and only disco song named "Macho Duck", available as part of the Mickey Mouse Disco children's album.
  • In Sweden, a comic book artist named Charlie Christensen got into a legal dispute with Disney when his creation Arne Anka looked similar to Donald Duck (albeit Arne is a pessimistic drunkard). However, Charlie made a mockery of the legal action and staged a fake death for his character, which then had plastic surgery performed and reappeared as Arne X with a more corvine beak. He later purchased a strap-on duck beak from a novelty gift shop, pointing out that "If Disney is planning to give me any legal action; all I have to do is remove my fake beak."
  • Donald Duck is a constant source of irritation for the eponymous hero of Donald Duk (1991), a coming-of-age novel by Frank Chin set in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Donald Duck's Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame


Selected short films

  1. ^ a b Originally released as a Mickey Mouse short.

Feature-length films

Television series

Video games

Notable illustrators

See also


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  14. ^ Watts 2013, p. 253.
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Further reading

External links