It’s Donald Duck’s birthday today! Yep, the obstreperous octogenarian—big Don, the Donster, Donny boy, el Donaldo, Donny Rocket, perhaps-not-so-bonnie Donny—has reached the ripe old age of 82, having first graced the big screen in 1934, in the Disney ‘Silly Symphonies’ short The Wise Little Hen. Consider that a pro bono factoid—here’s the full top ten…
- His birthday is actually 13 March, 1914.
It’s usual for a character’s first appearance in a cartoon to mark his or her birthday, but in a late-40s animation, audiences are told that Donald was born on 13 March. In his authorised biography (The Life of Donald Duck, Random House, 1941), the date is confirmed as Friday 13 March. Some extraordinarily tenacious fans did some further detective work, and concluded Donald was born on Friday 13 March, 1914.
- Donald was created because Mary had a little lamb.
The voice of Donald Duck between 1934–1983 (then training Tony Anselmo to take the baton), Clarence Nash even inspired the character’s creation when Walt Disney heard Nash employing his ‘duck’ voice to read Mary Had a Little Lamb. Disney wanted a more negative foil for Mickey, and is later quoted as saying:
“One of the greatest satisfactions in our work here at the studio is the warm relationship that exists within our cartoon family. Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, and the whole gang have always been a lot of fun to work with. But like many large families, we have a problem child. You’re right, it’s Donald Duck.”
- His family tree really does have Scottish roots.
Cartoonist Carl Barks was one of Donald’s main developers, and also created Scrooge McDuck. Back in the 50s, he helped map out the Duck family tree in order to connect the Ducks to Clan McDuck. Turns out Donald’s mother Hortense was a McDuck by birth, and married into the Ducks via Donald’s daddy, Quackmore. (Yes, really.)
- He is the only major Disney character with a middle name.
- Donald is colourblind.
Sartorial sailor-based elegance aside, it seems Donald is at least partially colourblind. When Donald goes to the local draft board in the 1942 wartime short Donald Gets Drafted, he gets accepted despite identifying a green card with ‘green’ written on it as blue. He also had flat feet, no brain, and WAS A DUCK, but you know, desperate times and all that.
- Donald won an Oscar.
The 1943 short Der Fuehrer’s Face (originally titled Donald Duck in NutziLand), won Best Short Subject, Cartoons, and also features Groucho Marx singing. Donald’s intense anti-Nazi feeling, along with his sincere support of the American troops turned him into something of a war hero himself.
- Donald is known for political protest.
It’s common practise in Finland and Sweden for voters to opt for ‘Donald Duck’ when they want to register a protest vote.
- He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
It was awarded in 2005. Mickey Mouse still got there before him.
- He’s actually more popular than Mickey.
Since his screen début in 1934, Donald has gone on to appear in 178 theatrical productions, compared to Mickey’s paltry 137. He’s also the fifth most-published cartoon character after superhero stalwarts Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and Wolverine.
- Donald’s name may have been inspired by cricket legend Donald Bradman.
Bradman and the Australian team were touring the US in 1932, and in a match against the New York West Indians, Bradman was out for a duck. It was around this time that Walt Disney was creating a pal for Mickey.
And that’s your dose of Disney for today. So long, toots!
[Disclaimer: all information gleaned from the internet, so it must be true.]