When Donald Duck waddled onto the silver screen in 1934, he was an instant hit as Mickey Mouse’s volatile comic foil. Donald, whose quick temper and bullish behavior stood in sharp contrast to Mickey’s everyman charm, turns 81 today. In Donald’s own words: “What's the big idea!?"
The big deal is that the indelible Disney character has appeared in hundreds of short films over the decades since Disney debuted him on June 9, 1934, in the cartoon “The Wise Little Hen.” Donald's iconic – and sometimes unintelligible – voice has entertained millions over the years and cemented his spot in the animated-entertainment hall of fame.
The character isn’t just famous with cartoon fans. Donald, who's often represented wearing a sailor suit and red bowtie, is the only TV cartoon to represent a major American university sports team – the University of Oregon Ducks.
Here are seven little-known facts about one of Disney’s most beloved characters on Donald Duck Day.
1. Donald has appeared in more films than any other Disney character. Donald has 225 films to his name, according to IMDb.
2. Donald Duck’s full name is Donald Fauntleroy Duck. Disney first revealed Donald’s full name in the 1942 film “Donald Gets Drafted.”
3. Donald is an American Pekin duck. His species was historically bred in China but became a popular commercial duck breed for egg and meat production in the U.S. after it was first brought to Long Island in 1873.
4. Donald has an asteroid named after him. Asteroid 12410 was named in 1995 and is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
5. Donald’s family circle includes his parents, sister and nephews. His mother is Hortense McDuck and his dad is Quackmore Duck. His sister is Della Thelma Duck. His nephews – Huey, Dewey and Louie – are best recognized from the XX show “DuckTales.”
6. Walt Disney created Donald around Clarence Nash’s “duck” voice. Nash voiced Donald from 1934 to 1983.
7. Donald co-hosted the Oscars in 1958. He appeared at the movie-awards ceremony on film alongside the night's other hosts -- Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell and James Stewart. In 2005, Donald was given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.