Has it really been 80 years already? Happy birthday, Donald Duck!
Donald Duck, or Donald Fauntleroy Duck, was created at Walt Disney Productions as a friend (and sometimes rival!) for Mickey Mouse, who had already made its own debut five years earlier. Donald Duck is particularly known for being short- and ill-tempered and his often unintelligible manner of speaking, attributes which Walt Disney came up with as animator Dick Lundy was said to have fully developed the character. Clarence Nash was the first to lend his voice to this new character, and did so for the next 50 years.
The Walt Disney Silly Symphonies cartoon “The Wise Little Hen,” which premiered on this day 80 years ago, marked Donald’s first ever appearance. Based on a fairy tale, “The Wise Little Hen” starred, well, a wise little hen, Peter Pig, and Donald, of course. In the story, Peter and Donald avoided helping the hen in planting and harvesting corn by pretending to have a belly ache. But when the hen asks them help in eating the corn, they readily take on the task – only to be given a dose of their own medicine, figuratively and literally.
Thus begins the illustrious career of Donald Duck, who is now known as one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time. Not only did he appear in more works than Mickey Mouse (more than 170 films compared to the latter’s 137), Donald also holds the distinction of being the fifth most published comic book character just after superheroes Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and Wolverine! Indeed, the last eight decades wouldn’t have been as entertaining as it has been for generations of kids without the one and only Donald Duck!