CHIPNDALEOriginal Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1943
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Chip 'n' Dale are generally thought to have made their first appearance in an Oscar-nominated Donald Duck cartoon titled, of all things, Chip 'n' Dale (1947). But their actual
first appearance was as the unnamed foils of Mickey Mouse's dog in Private Pluto (1943), which is rarely seen today because the Disney company seldom allows its cartoons with World War II themes to be shown. (Having received their names only after becoming recurring characters is something they have in common with Droopy, Tweety Bird, Wile E. Coyote, and quite a few other cartoon characters.)
In fact, that Duck cartoon wasn't even their second appearance — that was a cameo in the feature Fun & Fancy Free, which came out earlier in 1947. They were there just long enough to make fun of Bongo Bear for not being able to climb a tree. Again, they weren't named.
Whenever they appeared and whatever they were called, the cute li'l chipmunk guys became frequent opponents of Donald, and co-starred with him in over a dozen cartoons during the late 1940s and early '50s. Besides the first, one more, Toy Tinkers (1949) was nominated for an Oscar.
In Chicken in the Rough (1951), they first starred in a cartoon of their own. In the Chip 'n' Dale series, as well as in the Donald Duck cartoons where they continued to appear, their director was Jack Hannah, who had been Donald's main director since 1945. But that series was short-lived. During the 1950s, the Disney studio phased out its short cartoons. The last entry in the Chip 'n' Dale series was The Lone Chipmunks (1954), and their last appearance with Donald was in Chips Ahoy (1956).
They found a more permanent home in comic books. Their first appearance in that medium was, again, as a foil for Pluto, in the back pages of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, in 1946. They made occasional appearances as supporting characters or back-up features for several years, achieving star status for the first time in Dell's Four Color Comics #517 (1953). After a couple more Four Color appearances, they graduated to regular publication in 1955, and, with some gaps, continued to appear in comic books until 1982.
In the late 1980s, following the success of DuckTales, which starred Donald Duck's Uncle Scrooge in a lengthy series of television half-hours, the Disney company searched their archives for other properties that might be adapted to that medium. Chip 'n' Dale became the second series given that treatment Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, featuring the adventurous exploits of a totally reconstituted chipmunk pair, debuted in 1989.
Today, Chip 'n' Dale are reprising their first role in two venues. Their old theatrical cartoons turn up frequently on The Disney Channel, and new ones just like them are appearing on the "Mouse Works" segment of Disney's One Saturday Morning.