Donald Duck first appeared in the 1934 cartoon The Wise Little Hen which was part of the Silly Symphonies series of theatrical cartoon shorts. The film’s release date of June 9 is officially recognized by the Walt Disney Company as Donald’s birthday.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 is the blue sailor shirt and hat — but his features are more elongated, his body plumper, and his feet smaller. Donald’s personality is not developed either; in the short, he only fills the role of the unhelpful friend from the original story.
Donald Fauntleroy Duck has appeared in more films than any other Disney character, listed as appearing in approximately 178 theatrical films compared to Mickey Mouse’s 137, and is the fifth most published comic book character in the world after Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and Wolverine.
Donald Duck rose to fame with his comedic roles in animated cartoons. His distinctive voice was created by Clarence Nash, who performed the role for 50 years. It was his second appearance in Orphan’s Benefit which introduced him as a temperamental comic foil to Mickey Mouse. Donald had his own show. 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 in 1937, starting with Don Donald. These films introduced Donald’s girlfriend Daisy Duck and sometimes featured his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. After the 1956 film Chips Ahoy, Donald appeared primarily in educational films before eventually returning to theatrical animation in Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983). His most recent appearance in a theatrical film was 1999’s Fantasia 2000. Donald has also appeared in direct-to-video features such as Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) and The Three Musketeers (2004) as well as television programs such as DuckTales (1987–1990), Quack Pack (1996), and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006–2013).
Here is a look back at Donald’s first film appearance in The Wise Little Hen:
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