The Wise Little Hen

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The Wise Little Hen
The Wise Little Hen poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilfred Jackson
Produced byWalt Disney
StarringFlorence Gill
Clarence Nash
Purv Pullen
Music byLeigh Harline
Animation byArchie Robin
Clyde Geronimi
Art Babbitt
Louie Schmitt
Ugo D'Orsi
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Wolfgang Reitherman
Dick Huemer[1]
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release dates
  • May 3, 1934 (1934-05-03) (Carthay Circle Theater)[2]
  • June 7, 1934 (1934-06-07)
Running time
7 minutes (one reel)

The Wise Little Hen is a 1934 Walt Disney's Silly Symphony cartoon, based on the fable The Little Red Hen. The cartoon features the debut of Donald Duck, dancing to the Sailor's Hornpipe.[3] Donald and his friend Peter Pig try to avoid work by faking stomach aches until Mrs. Hen teaches them the value of labor. Though distributor United Artists gave June 9, 1934 as the cartoon's release date, it was actually first shown on May 3, 1934 at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles for a benefit program, while it was later given its official debut on June 7 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.[2][4] It was animated by Art Babbitt, Dick Huemer, Clyde Geronimi, Louie Schmitt, and Frenchy de Tremaudan (with assistance from a group of junior animators headed by Ben Sharpsteen)[5][1] and directed by Wilfred Jackson.[6] The story was also adapted in the Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro,[7] which was Donald Duck's first appearance in Disney comics.


The Wise Little Hen of the title is looking for someone to help her plant her corn for the winter. Peter Pig and Donald Duck both feign belly aches to get out of the chore since they would rather play than work. So, with help from her chicks, she plants it herself. Harvest time comes; again, Peter and Donald claim belly aches, but the hen sees through this when boards of their clubhouse fall off showing their little act when they shake hands with each other for evading responsibility. Upon wising up to their ruse, she and her chicks wink at each other upon knowing what to do with Peter and Donald later. She cooks up a tantalizing assortment of corn dishes, and heads over to Peter and Donald to help her eat them, but before she can open her mouth, they already fake their belly aches. Once she ask them to help her eat the corn, they snap out of their façade and are excited to eat, but all she gives them is castor oil. As the hen and her chicks eat the corn themselves, Peter and Donald repent with all their might by kicking each other in the rump.



The Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip ran a three-month-long adaptation of The Wise Little Hen from September 16 to December 16, 1934.[7]

The 1962 storybook Walt Disney's Story Land: 55 Favorite Stories featured an adaptation of the cartoon called "Mrs. Cackle's Corn". In this version, Clara Cluck is telling the story. By 1962, Donald Duck was thought unsuitable for a bit part in a fairy tale, so they use Daniel Duck instead. Patsy Pig was substituted for Peter Pig.

Home media[edit]

The short has been released several times on home media. The first release was in 1986 on Betamax on Donald Duck Volume 1. It was released in 1989 on VHS, Beta, and Laserdisc on Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Volume 2. It was re-released on those same three formats in 1991 on Donald Duck's 50th Birthday.

It was released on December 4, 2001 on Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies - The Historic Musical Animated Classics,[8][4] and on May 18, 2004 on Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume One: 1934-1941.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Happy Birthday Donald Duck! Walt Disney's "The Wise Little Hen" (1934) |". Cartoon Research. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Kaufman, J.B. (June 8, 2020). "When's Your Birthday?". Cartoon Research. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  3. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 74–76. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Merritt, Russell; Kaufman, J. B. (2016). Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series (2nd ed.). Glendale, CA: Disney Editions. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-1-4847-5132-9.
  5. ^ Malone, Patrick A. "The Wise Little Hen". The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
  6. ^ "The Wise Little Hen". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
  7. ^ a b Duvall, Earl; Taliaferro, Al; Osborne, Ted; De Maris, Merrill (2016). Silly Symphonies: The Complete Disney Classics, vol 1. San Diego: IDW Publishing. ISBN 978-1631405587.
  8. ^ "Silly Symphonies: The Historic Musical Animated Classics DVD Review". DVD Dizzy. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  9. ^ "The Chronological Donald Volume 1 DVD Review". DVD Dizzy. Retrieved 13 February 2021.

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