Seventy and still quacking
Walt Disney's most popular cartoon character, Donald Duck, turned 70 on June 9. His popularity has not waned despite the presence of modern rivals such as Shrek and Nemo, says RANDOR GUY.
YEP, DONALD Duck turned 70 on June 9, 2004! He took his bow on the screen the same day in June, 1934, in a Walt Disney Animation short film, "The Wise Hen." Since then Donald Duck and his family members like Uncle Scrooge, his three nephews Huey, Dewey and Louis, sweetheart Daisy Duck, and the residents of his home town Duckburg have been entertaining children around the world.
Among the immortal creations of Walt Disney, even though Mickey Mouse is older, Donald Fauntleroy Duck (yes, he has a middle name!) enjoys greater popularity than Mickey. "The Wise Hen" was a re-hash of an old story of a lady hen who works alone on her farm to raise corn, she wants Donald Duck and Peter Pig to help her but they spend the time dancing. The kind lady invites them for dinner. What they find in the covered bowl is castor oil! This was the debut of Donald Duck and he never looked back.
Surprisingly, Walt Disney thought that Peter Pig would be popular and was planning to project him in a big way. But audiences in America and the world went gaga over Donald and soon he became the greatest Roman of them all in the Animation world!
In this first film Donald Duck wears his signature sailor's suit, which remains unchanged right through the years. But he wears no pants, which caused censorship problems in Sweden!
Not many are aware that Donald Duck was not entirely the brainchild of Walt Disney. It was the handiwork and creation of a modest but highly talented artist and animator in the Disney Studio, Carl Barks (1901-2000).
When Donald Duck first quacked into life in a film, he was a loafing, lazy hothead, unable to articulate. Carl Barks drew many of those early cartoons, and gave him a new dimension, a real personality, a speech and a range of colourful emotions. He also gave Donald a home, Duckburg, where lived his rich but miserly Uncle, Scrooge McDuck, and Donald Duck's nephews.
Carl Barks said that his stories were not fables, but are certainly a reflection of the trials of work a-day life.
``Donald... is a victim of so many circumstances... But there isn't a person ... who couldn't identify with him. He is everything, he is everybody; he makes the same mistakes that we all make. He is sometimes a villain, and he is often a real good guy, and at all times he is just a blundering person like the average human being, and I think that is one of the reasons people like Donald!'' Barks remarked.
Walt Disney with some of his cartoon characters.
Barks worked for Walt Disney in 1930s starting as an in-between- sketcher and moved to the story department where he worked on gags for early Donald Duck cartoons. During the 20 years of his work for Disney he received only 45 dollars for one page of his work. After retirement he began to make money creating oil paintings from his Duckburg characters.
Disney withdrew permission for that during 1970s but gave in for old time's sake and by this time the price for an original Carl Barks' Donald Duck and family had touched six figures in dollars!
Donald Duck's inimitable voice was provided by a `radio voicer,' Clarence Nash. Walt Disney first heard Nash doing his duck voices for a milk advertisement on a Los Angeles Radio Show. When he was called into the studio for an audition, an excited Disney hired Nash on the spot. He was the sole voice of Donald till his death in 1985.
During the height of his fame and name Donald Duck featured in over 150 short films and more than many guest appearances. He also appeared in three feature films. One of them, a major hit, was "The Three Caballeros."
In 1943 Donald Duck won an Oscar for the wartime short "Der Fuehrer's Face." Like the movie maestro Frank Capra's evergreen heroes, Mr. Deeds and Mr. Smith, Donald Duck is a little man in a big world, which seems to be against him and tries to keep him pressed chokingly to the floor. But he is not one to take anything lying down. Sometimes nothing seems to go well for him. But he is stubborn, hard-headed and with a `never say die' attitude. He is a little upset with the world that some guys like Mickey Mouse and Goofy seemed to have things easy. But he just does not care and he fights and ultimately finds victory.
Once, Walt Disney in a private conversation remarked that every human being retains the child in him till the end of life and cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck appeal to that evergreen, ever-living child inside the man. This, according to him, was the secret of his phenomenal success and Donald Duck helped him to achieve the success.
Donald is no ordinary duck who only says, ``Quack...quack!'' He is articulate and many of his favourite quotes have become popular like, ``Oh, yeah?''... ``Hie, toots!''... ``Aw, phooey!''... ``Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!''... ``Nothing to it!''
In recent years with the invention of synthetic computer graphics, amazing special effects and digital photography and with animated characters like Shrek and Nemo coming out of such gizmos, Donald Duck seems to be a little bit dated to some. But not to all. The mere fact that his cartoons are regularly being televised to this day is proof that Donald Duck, 70, Not Out, is sure to hit the century in another 30 years. Donald Duck is the Don who never ducks in the face of adversity...!
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