Donald Duck made his cartoon debut in “The Wise Little Hen” back in the summer of 1934. But he wouldn’t meet Mickey Mouse until his second appearance in “Orphan’s Benefit” later that year. From there, it wasn’t long before Daisy Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie were introduced. In spite of their superior diction, they weren’t able to steal the spotlight from Donald. You can’t replace his grumpy, nearly incomprehensible charm, and it’s why the Donald has been in more movies (200+) than any Disney character. So, let’s celebrate on June 9 — National Donald Duck Day!
And his accomplishments don’t stop there. He co-hosted the Oscars in 1958 with a little help from Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, and Jimmy Stewart. Oh, and they named an asteroid after him in 1995. If that doesn’t convince you he’s a force of nature, know that he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We’re not sure how he left webbed foot prints in front of the Chinese Theater, but we’ll gladly roll with it. Well, what do you give to a duck that has it all? His own holiday!
When is National Donald Duck Day 2023?
Everybody’s favorite short-tempered cartoon duck is celebrated on National Donald Duck Day on June 9.
History of National Donald Duck Day
The world was introduced to Disney’s beloved character Donald Duck on June 9, 1934. More or less starting off as a comic-book character, he remains the most published non-superhero ever. Such is his popularity that Donald Duck is a national hero in Finland! The character is a pop culture icon in Finland, much like Hello Kitty is in Japan. Donning his signature blue sailor suit with no pants, Donald Duck has appeared in more short films and feature films than any other Disney character. It is the diverse nature of his character that has allowed him to be featured in a plethora of roles, from an army officer and a teacher, to an uncle to three ducklings.
Walt Disney conjured up the idea for Donald Duck to introduce an edgier character to balance out the goody-goody jolly Mickey Mouse. During the experimental phase of Donald’s character creation, Disney read about Australian cricketer Donald Bradman, who had made headlines after getting dismissed for a duck.
Another defining feature of Donald Duck is his voice. Clarence Nash, the original voice actor for Donald, created a distinct voice achieved by ‘buccal speech,’ a form of vocalization that utilizes the inner cheek to create sound instead of the larynx. Nash first discovered this while trying to mimic his pet goat.
In the 1940s, Donald Duck overtook Mickey Mouse with over 128 independent short animations. This was truly the decade of the Donald, as he soared to popularity faster than any other Disney figure. During World War II, despite having to halt most of its production, Disney represented its stance by using Donald Duck in several American propaganda films. One of these animations earned Disney an Academy Award for ‘Best Short Film.’
Other than his success in films, Donald also got his own comic in the ’40s that branched into an entire series of independent Donald Duck comics, which are circulated and enjoyed by adults and children until today. The Donald in the comics — who lives in the town of Duckburg and is a loving uncle to nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie — is much more mild-mannered, and has better-articulated speech and emotions than the original Donald.
After Walt Disney’s death, Donald Duck did not make another appearance on screen again until 1983. He continues to be a legend today and is still featured in cartoon films, television shows, and comics. What makes Donald so relatable and fun is that he is always getting into situations and difficulties, and has to get himself out using nothing but his wits and slim resources. Due to the politicization of his character during the Second World War, Donald is also good at taking hits at opponents and is featured in campaigns around the world.
National Donald Duck Day timeline
The animated film “Der Fuehrer’s Face” featuring Donald Duck living in Nazi Germany wins an Academy Award.
Daisy Duck first appears in ‘Disney’s Comics & Stories no. 149’ as Donald Duck’s girlfriend.
Donald Duck is banned in Finland for wearing no pants.
Donald Duck gets his own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.
Traditions of the Day
Many of us have grown up watching Donald Duck cartoons. We fondly remember scenes of Donald losing his cool over small things and getting into comical situations. To revisit these memories, people tune in to their favorite Donald Duck cartoons today and maybe even introduce them to a child.
Donald Duck has also featured in many video games like “Kingdom Hearts” and had his own comic book, too! These comics require sourcing but are well worth purchasing — some are even collectibles. There are many DIY Donald Duck art projects that can be found online. Indulging in some Donald Duck-themed crafts is also a great way to celebrate the day.
By The Numbers
- 8 – the runtime in minutes of Donald Duck’s debut short, “Don Donald.”
- 1942 – the year when Donald Duck served World War II with several animated shorts films.
- 1947 – the year Donald Duck became the inspiration for the University of Oregon’s Fighting Ducks mascot.
- 17 – the number of animated characters who have received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, including Donald Duck.
- 3 – the number of nephews Donald Duck has.
National Donald Duck Day FAQs
Does Donald Duck have a girlfriend?
Yes, Daisy Duck is a cartoon character created by The Walt Disney Company to be the girlfriend of Donald Duck.
What is Donald Duck’s full name?
As revealed in the 1942 short film “Donald Gets Drafted” Donald Duck’s full name is ‘Donald Fauntleroy Duck.’
How old is Donald Duck?
Donald Duck made his first appearance on 9 June 1934, which means he was 86 years old in 2020.
National Donald Duck Day Activities
Indulge in Donald
Rejoice! You've got about 225 Donald Duck movies to choose from. That number might sound intimidating, but it doesn't hurt to have so many good options. If you're in the mood for something fun and action-packed, check out "Mickey, Donald, and Goofy: The Three Musketeers." But if you'd rather curl up with a book, there's no shortage of comics. Pretty much anything drawn by Carl Barks is gold.
Throw a Donald Duck theme party
You don't have to go all out (we advise you to wear pants), but wearing a red tie and sailor hat will get everyone in the spirit. For good measure, you might want to encourage your guests to strap on a duck nose piece. And if the whole costume thing doesn't appeal to everybody, there's always T-shirts. To make things a little more fun, why not have a contest for the coolest Donald Duck T? Whether they're custom or store-bought, there are bound to be some funny surprises.
Go to Disneyland or Walt Disney World
If you're around, drop in and pay Donald a visit in person. What's great about mascots is that they're fun for the whole family. Kids get to see a cartoon character come to life, and adults get to relive their childhood for a bit. But be warned: Donald's a very popular duck. Practicing your Donald Duck voice is a good way to pass the time while waiting in line.
5 Facts About Donald Duck
Donald Duck has a sister
Donald has a twin sister, named Thelma, Dumbella, or Della in various stories, who went on to become an astronaut.
Donald’s breakout role
After his debut on screen, a short titled “Don Donald” really made Donald popular with the audience.
Daisy wasn’t Donald’s first love!
In the animated short “Don Donald,” Donald Duck tries to win over his love interest Donna Duck.
Donald the fighting duck
In 1947, Walt Disney approved Donald Duck as the official mascot for the University of Oregon’s Fighting Ducks.
Step aside, Mickey Mouse.
Donald Duck has appeared in seven animated feature films, more than all of his other Disney friends.
Why We Love National Donald Duck Day
Donald Duck has one of the most iconic voices in Hollywood, and it’s ripe for imitation. Have you ever imitated the voice of your favorite cartoon character? It's a lot of fun, and in true Donald Duck fashion, you don't have to make sense. Truthfully, the fewer the number of people who understand you, the better. That's how you know you're nailing your impression on National Donald Duck Day.
He teaches us about real ducks
Donald isn't just any type of duck; he's an American Peking duck. As the name hints, this species of duck was mainly bred in China. They didn't become popular in the U.S. until 1873. Interestingly enough, the Peking duck made its stateside debut in Long Island, but Donald's accent doesn't reflect that. This only further demonstrates his acting genius.
He inspired some of our favorite cartoons
Without Donald Duck, we wouldn't have some of our favorite cartoons from the '90s — "Duck Tales" being one of them. Who could forget the scene of Scrooge McDuck swimming through piles of money? Every kid fantasized about doing that at least once, and it's sad to think where we'd be without it. An even sadder thought is a world where Darkwing Duck doesn't exist.
National Donald Duck Day dates