Angry, capricious, awkward, lazy … Donald has plenty of faults. But the most famous duck in Hollywood actually hides a true tenderness, and that’s why we love it!
On June 9, 1934, Donald appeared for the first time on the screens. 85 years later, he has not taken a wrinkle and still displays a strong character! This anniversary day is an opportunity to relive together some events of the career of a duck … who is not afraid to get wet!
A SMALL LITTLE DUCK
In his first cartoon, “The Little Wise Hen” Silly Symphony, Donald is only a secondary character, but he is already attracting attention. Not by heroism or kindness, but by his laziness and bad faith. Pretending a fictitious bellyache, he refuses to help a nice hen to plant her corn, to have fun with his friend Peter Pig!
From film to film, the audience delights in the duck’s woes while recognizing itself in its many ways. Donald quickly becomes a star, both in theaters and comics, in parallel with Mickey with whom he shares a lot of adventures (including the dazzling Clocks Cleaners in 1937), and to whom he tries many times to steal the show. One thinks in particular of his interventions in the “Mickey Mouse March”, the famous opening credits of the TV show The Mickey Mouse Club initiated in 1955, trying to impose itself by screaming its own name when the choir sings “Mickey Mouse!” .
He will still manage to be the sole hero (or almost) in cartoons like The Three Caballeros (1945) and in comics, especially those signed by the great Carl Barks.
After a film break during the 1960-1970s, he returns to the screens from 1983 sometimes with his friends, as in Mickey’s Christmas Carol or Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, or sometimes with his family in Duck Tales (1987). He steals the show in Who framed Roger Rabbit (1988) in a totally crazy piano battle against Daffy Duck, and in Fantasia 2000, with the epic and romantic sequence “Pump and Circumstances”. A TV series, Quack Pack (1996), will be devoted to his misadventures with his boiling nephews, now as teenagers.
Today, after the worldwide success of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey and the Roadster Racers, we can watch him in the new version of Duck Tales or in the excellent new Mickey Mouse series signed Paul Rudish.
DONALD AT DISNEYLAND PARIS
Since the opening of Disneyland Paris in 1992, Donald has obviously been a key figure of the resort. He is naturally found in good place during most of the milestones of the destination, starting with the big anniversaries.
Just like in cartoons, he likes to share adventures with his long-time accomplices, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and all the others. In the parades, here he is, in their company, alternately explorer of the future on the “steampunk” opening float of the Disney Stars on Parade, magician in Disney Magic on Parade or “dreamer of the imagination” in the Once upon a Dream Parade. We also remember fondly the Disney ImagiNations Parade, in which Mickey and his friends were represented in the form of giant floats almost 11 meters high, inspired by the five continents, and that of Donald paid a vibrant tribute to South America – a perfect fit for this “Caballero”!
On the show side, in 1997, he shared Mickey’s Winter Wonderland at Chaparral Theater by bringing this escapade into the rocky mountains a lot of gags and laughter! He also helped his friends to animate Goofy’s Summer Camp (2009), always at Chaparral Theater or to organize Minnie’s birthday, in Disney Junior Live on Stage!
Donald can not help drawing attention to him. Insatiable, curious, he takes advantage of the absence of Mickey to wear his magic hat in Mickey’s PhilharMagic and try to direct the orchestra in its place. Epic adventure ensues through several great classics of animation, in which he interferes with his usual awkwardness!
He also tried to measure himself against Mickey, and this time not in music but in drawing, in the Animagique show (2002). Seeking inspiration, he entered the Cinémathèque where preserved Disney cartoons are stored. There he met lively characters from movies such as Dumbo, Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book or The Lion King in colorful numbers illuminated in black light.
But nothing is more fun for Donald than to hold the top bill! He loves meeting his fans, signing autographs and posing with them on Main Street, U.S.A., not far from Casey’s Corner. For Halloween 2018, he took the spotlight by wearing an incredible costume of Maleficent. And for Christmas of the same year, he was the guest of honor at Studio Theater’s Merry Jolly Jingles, in Walt Disney Studios Park, where he sang festive tunes accompanied by a real big band.
For his 70th birthday, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld paid him a very personal tribute by making a T-Shirt on which he had drawn himself in the style of our duck. For his 60 years in 1993, he even had his own parade. Except that instead of tanks, he was accompanied by a whole troop of ducks happily descending Main Street, U.S.A. with him!