Donald Fauntleroy Duck is a cartoon character created in 1934 at Walt Disney Productions and licensed by The Walt Disney Company. Donald is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a sailor suit with a cap and a black or red bow tie. Donald’s most famous personality trait is his easily provoked and explosive temper. Along with his friend Mickey Mouse, Donald is one of the most popular Disney characters and was included in TV Guide’s list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time in 2002 He has appeared in more films than any other Disney character and is the fourth most published comic book character in the world after Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man.
Donald rose to fame with his comedic roles in animated cartoons. He first appeared in The Wise Little Hen (1934), but it was his second appearance in Orphan’s Benefit which introduced him as a temperamental comic foil to Mickey Mouse. Throughout the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s he appeared in over 150 theatrical films, several of which were recognized at the Academy Awards. Donald was regularly part of an ensemble cast with Mickey and Goofy, and was given his own series of films in 1937, starting with Don Donald. These films introduced Donald’s girlfriend Daisy Duck and sometimes featured his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. After the 1956 film Chips Ahoy, Donald appeared primarily in educational films before eventually returning to theatrical animation in 1983 with Mickey’s Christmas Carol. His most recent theatrical appearance was 1999’s Fantasia 2000. Donald has also appeared in direct-to-video features such as Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) and The Three Musketeers (2004) as well as television programs such as DuckTales (1987–1990), Quack Pack (1996), and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006–present).
Donald’s voice, one of the most identifiable voices in animation, was performed by voice actor Clarence 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. Since 1985, Donald has been voiced by Tony Anselmo who was trained by Nash for the role.
Beyond animation Donald is primarily known for his appearances in comics, both in newspaper strips and comic books. Donald was most famously drawn by Al Taliaferro, Carl Barks, and Don Rosa. Barks in particular is credited for greatly expanding the “duck universe,” the world in which Donald lives, and creating many additional characters such as Donald’s maternal uncle Scrooge McDuck. Today Donald is a very popular character in Europe, particularly in Scandinavian countries where his weekly magazine has remained the most popular comics publication for over 50 years. Disney comics’ fandom is sometimes humorously referred to as “Donaldism,” a term which originated in Norway. (Norwegian: Donaldisme)