Some amusing facts about the world’s angriest cartoon duck.
Donald’s first appearance was in the 1934 Disney short “The Wise Little Hens.” A take on the old children’s story “The Little Red Hen,” Donald and his friend, the now-forgotten Peter Pig, get too lazy while working on a farm and wind up with no delicious corn to eat as a result.
He hasn’t always been paired up with Daisy Duck. In fact, in the first cartoon in which he was the headliner, the 1937 short “Don Donald,” Donald tries to woo another female waterfowl named Donna Duck. The two ducks were romantically involved until Daisy came along in the 1940s.
His full name: Donald Fauntleroy Duck. He’s also colorblind.
Donald Duck’s actual birthday is March 13, 1914. That’s a Friday, and a Friday the 13th—which explains his bad luck and why he’s always so grumpy.
Walt Disney himself helped create the character, inspired by actor Clarence Nash doing a raspy duck voice while reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Disney had wanted to develop a character that was a counterpoint to the bright and cheerful Mickey Mouse, and a raspy-voiced, ill-tempered duck would do. Nash voiced Donald until 1983, when he trained voice artist Tony Anselmo to take over.
For decades, Donald Duck was the official mascot of the University of Oregon Ducks. It’s the only time a major, trademarked film or TV character was the mascot for an American college.
He comes from a big family: He has a little-seen twin sister named Dumbella Duck, and another named Della Duck. Della is the mother of Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but she’s since been phased out, explaining why the three little ducks were often seen in the care of their Uncle Donald.
There was a reason why Huey, Dewey, and Louie went and stayed for long spells of time with their Uncle Scrooge McDuck (hence the setting for the popular 1980s TV series DuckTales): Their de facto guardian was Donald Duck, and he as active duty military personnel. He didn’t just wear the sailor suit for looks—he was in the Navy.
In 1984, the U.S. government gave Donald Duck an (honorary) honorable discharge in honor of his service in World War II. Donald starred in a few anti-Nazi, pro-Allied Forces cartoons in the 1940s.