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Donald Fauntleroy Duck is an American cartoon character from The Walt Disney Company. Donald is a white anthropomorphic duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He usually wears a sailor shirt, cap, and a red bow tie, but no trousers (except when he goes swimming). Donald's most famous personality trait is his easily provoked and explosive temper. Donald Duck has been officially honored as the third most popular cartoon character of all time with Bugs Bunny of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies at number two and fellow Disney creation Mickey Mouse who is number one.
According to the Disney canon, Donald's birthday is officially recognized as June 9, 1934,the day his debut film, The Wise Little Hen, was released. However, in The Three Caballeros (1944), his birthday is given as simply "Friday the 13th", which is in reference to the bad luck he experiences in almost all his cartoon appearances. Donald's Happy Birthday (short) gives his birthday as March 13. The 1942 short "Donald Gets Drafted", as well as the Quack Pack episode All Hands on Duck, also reveals his full name to be Donald Fauntleroy Duck.Donald Duck is a well-known and very popular character especially in Scandinavian countries. Donald's 1942 short film, Der Fuehrer's Face, won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film.
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Donald's voice, one of the most identifiable voices in all of animation, was performed by voice actor Clarence "Ducky" Nash up to his death in 1985. It was largely this semi-intelligible speech that would cement Donald's image into audiences' minds and help fuel both Donald's and Nash's rise to stardom.In 1969, Disney On Parade which toured all over the United States and Canada, hired Ellard Davis as the live voice of Donald Duck. Mr. Davis did the voice for 3 years. Since 1985, Donald has been voiced by Tony Anselmo, who was trained by Nash for the role.
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Donald in animation
For more details on this topic, see Donald Duck filmography.
Donald Duck as he first appeared in The Wise Little Hen
According to Leonard Maltin in his introduction to The Chronological Donald - Volume 1, Donald was created by Walt Disney when he heard Clarence Nash doing his "duck" voice while reciting "Mary had a little lamb". Mickey Mouse had lost some of his edge since becoming a role model for children and Disney wanted a character that could portray some of the more negative character traits he could no longer bestow on Mickey.
Donald Duck first appeared in the Silly Symphonies cartoon The Wise Little Hen on June 9, 1934 (though he is mentioned in a 1931 Disney storybook). 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.
Burt Gillett, director of The Wise Little Hen, brought Donald back in his Mickey Mouse cartoon, Orphan's Benefit on August 11, 1934. Donald is one of a number of characters who are giving performances in a benefit for Mickey's Orphans. 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 1935 cartoon The Band Concert—in which Donald repeatedly disrupts the Mickey Mouse Orchestra's rendition of The William Tell Overture by playing Turkey in the Straw—are regularly hailed by critics as exemplary films and classics of animation. Animator Ben Sharpsteen also minted the classic Mickey, Donald, and Goofy comedy in 1935, with the cartoon Mickey's Service Station.
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In 1936, Donald was redesigned to be a bit fuller, rounder, and cuter. He also began starring in solo cartoons, the first of which was the January 9, 1937 Ben Sharpsteen cartoon, Don Donald. This short also introduced a love interest of Donald's, Donna Duck, who evolved into Daisy Duck.Donald's nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, would make their first animated appearance a year later in the April 15, 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, at most, polls showed that Donald was more popular than Mickey Mouse. Disney could, however, help Mickey regain popularity by redesigning him, giving him his most appealing design as production for the Fantasia segment "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" began in 1938.