Ben Sharpsteen (1937)

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto relax in sunny Hawaii in this classic 1937 Walt Disney cartoon!

Hawaiian Holiday is a 1937 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon stars an ensemble cast of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Goofy while vacationing in Hawaii. The film was directed by Ben Sharpsteen, produced by John Sutherland and features the voices of Walt Disney as Mickey, Marcellite Garner as Minnie, Clarence Nash as Donald, and Pinto Colvig as Goofy and Pluto. It was Disney’s first film to be released by RKO, ending a five-year distributing partnership with United Artists.

Jack Hannah & Walt Disney (1952)

Theatrical release poster.

Trick or Treat is a 1952 animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon, which takes place on Halloween night, follows a series of pranks between Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie along with Witch Hazel. The film was directed by Jack Hannah and features the voices of Clarence Nash as Donald and his nephews, and June Foray as Hazel. The film introduced the song Trick or Treat for Halloween, which was written by Mack David, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston and performed by The Mellomen.

Walt Disney (1941)

The Reluctant Dragon is a 1941 American film produced by Walt Disney, directed by Alfred Werker, and released by RKO Radio Pictures on June 20, 1941. Essentially a tour of the then-new Walt Disney Studios facility in Burbank, California, the film stars radio comedian Robert Benchley and many Disney staffers such as Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Norman Ferguson, Clarence Nash, and Walt Disney, all as themselves.

The first twenty minutes of the film are in black-and-white, and the remainder is in Technicolor. Most of the film is live-action, with four short animated segments inserted into the running time: a black-and-white segment featuring Casey Junior from Dumbo; and three Technicolor cartoons: Baby Weems, Goofy’s How to Ride a Horse, and the extended-length short The Reluctant Dragon, based upon Kenneth Grahame’s book of the same name. The total length of all animated parts is 40 minutes.

The film was released in the middle of the Disney animators’ strike of 1941. Strikers picketed the film’s premiere with signs that attacked Disney for unfair business practices, low pay, lack of recognition, and favoritism. At one theater, sympathizers paraded down the street wearing a “dragon costume bearing the legend ‘The Reluctant Disney'”.

Some critics and audiences were put off by the fact that the film was not a new Disney animated feature in the vein of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Pinocchio, but essentially a collection of four short cartoons and various live-action vignettes. On the other hand, Photoplay said it was “one of the cleverest ideas to pop into that fertile mind of Walt Disney and results in this rare combination of a Cook’s tour of the Disney studio, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Mickey Mousedom and two of Disney’s latest cartoon features… Cleverly thought out and executed.”

Walt Disney (1934)

Image result for donald duck 1934

Today is the classic Walt Disney character’s birthday, and I wanted to pay tribute and give a special shout out to my favorite Disney cartoon character of all, Donald Duck. He has inspired me to create my own band of cartoon characters with personalities and passions in which I have captured in animations of my own. Thank you and have a very happy Birthday.

Donald was created by Walt Disney when he heard Clarence Nash doing a peculiar voice while reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Nash described the voice as a goat; Walt, however, insisted that it was a duck. Nash was hired on the spot, and with a voice in place, a stage was needed to put this new duck character to the test. The solution came in the form of Walt’s experimental Silly Symphonies cartoon series. Donald made his first appearance in The Wise Little Hen on June 9, 1934. In the cartoon, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig, lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn. Donald’s appearance in the cartoon, as created by animators Art Babbitt and Dick Huemer, is similar to his modern look; the feather, and beak colors are the same, as is the blue sailor shirt and hat, but his features are more elongated, his body plumper, and his feet bigger. His iconic voice, done by its originator Clarence Nash, is also the same. Notably, the manner of speech in which the characters’ voices are based on their respective animals is used for every character, rather than being a trait belonging solely to Donald. Donald’s personality is not developed either; in the short, he merely fills the role of the unhelpful friend from the original story.

The Wise Little Hen

Starring Donald Duck – June 9th, 1934

Bert Gillett, director of The Wise Little Hen, brought Donald back in his Mickey Mouse cartoon, Orphan’s Benefit on August 11, 1934. Donald is one of a number of characters who are giving performances in a benefit for Mickey’s Orphans. Donald’s act is to recite the poems Mary Had a Little Lamb and Little Boy Blue, but every time he tries, the mischievous orphans humiliate him, leading the duck to fly into a squawking fit of anger. This explosive personality would remain with Donald for decades to come. Although Orphan’s Benefit was Donald’s second appearance, the film was the first to significantly develop his character. Many of Donald’s personality traits first seen in Orphan’s Benefit would become permanently associated with him, such as his love of showmanship, his fierce determination, belligerence, and most famously his easily provoked temper. The film also introduced some of Donald’s physical antics, such as his signature temper tantrum of hopping on one foot while holding out one fist and swinging the other. This was the creation of animator Dick Lundy, who termed this Donald’s “fighting pose.”

Orphan’s Benefit

Starring Donald Duck – August 11th, 1934

Donald continued to be a hit with audiences. The character began appearing in most Mickey Mouse cartoons as a regular member of the ensemble with Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Pluto. Cartoons from this period, such as the 1935 cartoon The Band Concert â€” in which Donald repeatedly disrupts the Mickey Mouse Orchestra’s rendition of The William Tell Overture by playing Turkey in the Straw — are regularly hailed by critics as exemplary films and classics of animation. Animator Ben Sharpsteen also minted the classic Mickey, Donald, and Goofy comedy in 1935, with the cartoon Mickey’s Service Station. After the success of Mickey’s Service Station, Donald would often be grouped with Mickey and Goofy in several shorts, where the trio’s laughable flaws would cause mayhem to befall upon them.

The Band Concert

Starring Donald Duck – 1935

Mickey’s Service Station

Starring Donald Duck – 1935

Donald was redesigned in 1936 to be a bit fuller, rounder, and cuter, starting from Moving Day (1936). He also began starring in solo cartoons, the first of these being Don Donald, released on January 9, 1937. This short also marked the first appearance of Daisy Duck (here called “Donna Duck”), as well as Donald’s car, 313. Daisy went on to become Donald’s longtime love interest and a recurring co-star in his cartoons, mirroring the relationship between Mickey and Minnie.

Moving Day

Starring Donald Duck – 1936

Don Donald

Starring Donald Duck – January 9th, 1937

Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, would make their first animated appearance a year later in the 1938 film, Donald’s Nephews, directed by Jack King (they had earlier been introduced in the Donald Duck comic strip). It is around this period that Donald began to surpass Mickey in popularity, both in the favor of audiences and even the animators, who found it increasingly difficult to create new and entertaining shorts for Mickey to star in. According to Jack Hannah, there were several cartoons developed specifically for Mickey, but when the gags became too “rough”, the story was changed to star Donald instead.

Donald’d Nephews

Starring Donald Duck – 1938

Thanks for the laughs, Donald!