They year, 1937. The place, Mexico. The controversy, did Daisy Duck first premiere in the Disney theatrical animation Don Donald?
If there is one thing we know about Disney Duck Fans it’s that they looooooove Daisy Duck. Seriously, one of our earliest blogs was about how Daisy could be portrayed in the DuckTales reboot, Will We See Daisy In The Reboot?! , and it was one of our MOST popular blogs of 2018! You all love Daisy Duck, and you can’t wait to see what Frank and his team of writers will do with the character. Honestly, neither can we. When we talk about the things we look forward to seeing on the Disney Channel’s DuckTales Daisy is always near the top of the list. It has been great having Donald on the show, and we can’t imagine his character developing without his number one girl.
So when we started seeing posts on January 9th about Daisy’s Anniversary being today we became excited to celebrate with everyone, but then hesitation set in. When I did a search to verify that the date was correct, I found that Daisy Duck’s first appearance was on June 7th, 1940 in a short titled Mr. Duck Steps Out! The cartoon was written by none other than legendary duck writer Carl Barks. Steven, Josh, and I wondered which of the dates were true. Which led to a search for the cartoon that was released on January 9th, 1937.
Don Donald was released on January 9th. It was reportedly advertised as a new Mickey Mouse cartoon, but the only time the mouse made an appearance was in the opening. As might be guessed by the title of the short, this was a Donald Duck cartoon. But it’s release holds more significance than that. It was the first of the very popular Donald Duck shorts. Sure, Donald had appeared in cartoons before, but Don Donald was his first starring role. But… what about Daisy?
When the short begins Donald is seen riding a donkey through a Mexican desert and he arrives at a home with a sign that reads; “Donna Duck.” Upon entering the residence a female duck comes out to greet Donald and the two begin dancing and playing music. Of course things do not work out for Donald in this short, but our focus is not on him at the moment it is on this female duck. The duck in the short is named Donna Duck and some fans claim she is a separate character from the more familiar Daisy Duck. They would propose that the first time Daisy appeared was in 1940’s Mr. Duck Steps Out.
To muddy the waters a little, those who propose that Daisy and Donna are separate characters could bring up the fact that Donna would return in a newspaper comic strip where she would be a rival of Daisy’s competing for Donald’s affection. But those appearances pretty much make up the majority of Donna’s appearances and she never returned to film.
When we tried to find some kind of recognition from the Walt Disney Studio as to whether Donna and Daisy are one and the same. The only thing that I could find (in the short time frame that I searched) was a pin released at the Disney parks in 1999 as part of the “Countdown to the Millinium” collection. The pin is of the Donna Duck design, but it says “Daisy Duck debuted as Donna Duck 1937.”
So we went to Twitter and asked what the DuckFans there thought, and the conversation was enlightening.
What do you think? Did Daisy Duck debut under the name Donna Duck in 1937? Or was Daisy’s first appearance in Mr. Duck Steps Out in 1940? Join the conversation below or on Twitter @DuckTalks!