The original story of America’s favorite surly duck began 81 years ago on June 9. A creation of Walt Disney Productions, Donald Duck is widely known as Mickey Mouse’s sidekick, but his first appearance was in a Silly Symphony cartoon called The Wise Little Hen sans Mickey. Donald is known for his short fuse, and much like Yosemite Sam and rival Daffy Duck, he is prone to hopping, spitting temper tantrums. These tantrums lead him to become one of the most popular and enduring Disney characters.
A newspaper comic strip starring Donald F. Duck and illustrated by Al Taliaferro and Floyd Gottfredson debuted in 1937. A year later, Donald’s beloved nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie were born. Donald and crew went on to star in comic books and several cartoons. Remember Ducktales? This animated favorite was based on adventures written in Donald Duck comic books, published and distributed all over the world.
The Ducktales cartoon was broadcast from 1987-1990 with 100 episodes. Ducktales was the first cartoon to be produced for syndication and the series replayed on The Disney Channel in 1992 and 1995. Around this time, Disney channel launched the Disney Afternoon and featured the Ducktails spin-off, Darkwing Duck. Though Darkwing Duck was associated with Ducktales and Donald Duck, it contained all original characters and tons of pulp comic superhero references. Rumor has it that Disney XD is currently planning a reboot of the original Ducktales series. The planned release in sometime in 2017.
While Donald Duck is drawn dressed as a sailor, there is no evidence that he actually served in the Navy. The sailor suit was a popular outfit choice for children around the 1880s. Legend states that since Donald is a duck, and ducks like water, therefore, he was drawn in a sailor suit.
And now, to answer the burning question, why doesn’t he wear pants? Disney animator, Fred Spencer, explained, “Donald Duck does not wear pants because it looks awkward around his pear shaped rear end. In addition, the wearing of pants or shoes would obscure some of the most noticeable anatomy of a duck. The Disney animators quickly discovered that they could make an audience laugh by using Donald's tail feathers as a surrogate hand.” This did not stop newspapers in Finland from banning the newspaper comic strip in 1977, citing the lack of pants as a bad example for children. I wonder if they also shun Winnie the Pooh...
Ready to pay homage to the most famous duck on the planet? Here are some books to get you started.
Donald Duck image provided by VectorHQ.com