Remember those days when as a kid you use to swarm the television to watch cartoons. Those were the times when full time cartoon channels had not yet come and cartoon was limited to a few hours on your daily channel. It was during those days that Walt Disney’s most popular character Donald Fauntleroy Duck was born.
Created by Dick Lundy Donald is an anthropomorphic duck with a yellow orange bill, legs and feet. Loved by all Donald was initially created as Mickey Mouse’s friend but went on to acquire great heights as an individual cartoon. Officially his birthday is celebrated on the 9th June, the day his first movie was released way back in 1934. Donald’s trademark was his short tempered nature. This year as the famous kids cartoon character completes 77 glorious years let’s take a sneak peek into the journey so far.
Starting out in the movie “The wise little hen” in 1934 this duck went on to become a favourite among the kid’s. Naughty and nice Donald duck’s image provided the children with a perfect portrayal of their rebellious yet innocent self in those days. Donald duck was born in Disney’s backyard, the result of Clearance Nash reciting a children’s nursery rhyme in his famous ‘duck voice.’
Mickey mouse with ‘always do good’ had become a favourite among children, Disney needed someone new to portray some of the negative traits they could no longer put on Mickey.
It was in the early 1930’s Disney’s animator Dick Lundy brought to life the character of Donald duck. The sailor duck did undergo a transformation once his popularity rose. Donald’s appearance in cartoons as created by Dick Lundy is similar to his modern look, the feather’s, beak colour, blue sailor shirt and hat but the features are more elongated with a plumper body.
As a cartoon character Donald was far more popular than others. Even politics has at times taken help from this legendary cartoon. In 1943 during the World War 2 era a lot of animated films with Donald duck as their lead were shown to bring forth the cruelties of the Nazi empire to the general public. One such movie was ‘Der Fuehers face‘ released on 1st January 1943. Portrayed as a dream sequence the movie shows Donald being tortured by the Nazi rule. Towards the end of this nightmare as he suddenly wakes up Donald is shown as looking at the Statue of Liberty and the American flag with renewed appreciation.
Another film ‘Donald gets drafted’ showed Donald undergoing physical examination before joining the army and also disciplining himself during his stay in the service. Donald moved much beyond cartoons. Being a huge hit with the audience Donald was used in various mediums to propagate causes.
He also appears as a mascot—such as in the Army Air Corps 309th Fighter Squadron and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, which showed Donald as a fierce-looking pirate ready to defend the American coast from invaders. Donald also appeared as a mascot emblem for various regiments of the defense services like 415th Fighter Squadron and 438 Fighter Squadron.
Post war cartoons portrayed Donald as the brunt of some character’s pestering. He was a part of various popular movies. Donald duck also made occasional appearances in the cartoon series “Duck Tales.” Known for his signature traits of possessing a short temper, most of his cartoon’s portray the aggressive and restless side of children. In spite of all his shortcomings Donald more often than not emerges as the winner of all situations. Among his traits he is also known for his stubbornness and determination, once decided Donald always achieves his goals in spite of his lazy behaviour. This is what leaves a positive impact on the audience and they find it easier to associate with him.
All throughout his career Donald is shown jealous of Mickey wanting to get the top job at Disney, when in reality at one point of time his popularity exceeded that of all other Disney characters. Just as Mickey was given Minnie, Donald too had a romantic companion in Daisy duck. Both of them went on to rule the popularity charts for quite some time.
In today’s era of full time cartoon channels the market is flooded with various cartoon characters but Donald still continues to hold ground. Today as the grand Donald duck becomes 77 years old a lot of us own quite a few of our happy child hood memories to his lovely cartoons.
The legend and the cartoons of Donald duck will forever hold a special place in history for their immensely powerful influence on the audience. So what say, How about one of those classics Donald duck cartoons as an after dinner plan today? Nothing better to make you innocently laugh , and remember your naughty pranks as a child.