Daisy Duck.

DAISY DUCK

Original Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1937
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When Mickey Mouse was introduced, in 1928, Minnie was right there with him. But Donald Duck's 1934 introduction contained no such supporting character as a girlfriend. It wasn't until '37 that Daisy came along, and even then, she had the wrong name at first. That's probably because Mickey, tho he can be mischievous and isn't always easy to put up with when he gets too rambunctious, is a regular guy, and regular …

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… guys have a tendency to have women in their lives — whereas one can see where a guy with Donald's temper problem might have a hard time getting a girlfriend.

Daisy was introduced in Don Donald, directed by Ben Sharpsteen (Dumbo), which came out Jan. 9, 1937. In it, Donald had an adventure in Mexico, but the main focus wasn't the setting, but the fact that the irascible protagonist put so much effort into pleasing his companion. But she didn't have her proper name in this outing. She was identified as "Donna" Duck. Apparently, having the same surname wasn't a problem at Disney — Mickey and Minnie did too — but giving her such a similar first name strained credibility a little too much. Accordingly, by the time she made her second appearance (which took until June 7, 1940, when Mr. Duck Steps Out came out), she'd gotten the name we've known her by ever since.

In both of these outings, Daisy was voiced by Clarence Nash, whose quasi-articulate duck-like noises had inspired the creation of Donald in the first place. Nash did her voice in most of her 1940s roles, but in the '50s, Daisy was played by Gloria Blondell, who was later heard as Gloria in Calvin & the Colonel. Blondell's Daisy was less of a squawking irritant, altogether softer and more feminine a character. Nash's Daisy had been more shrewish, much harder to get along with, not that Donald was much of a prize himself. Ruth Clifford (more often heard as Minnie Mouse) did Daisy's voice in Donald's Dream Voice (1948), which at least blunted the irony of someone who sounds like a Nash Duck character complaining about Donald Duck's voice.

Daisy made her first comics appearance in the Silly Symphonys newspaper comic, where Donald was starring at the time, for November 4, 1940. After that, she became a regular supporting character in Donald's comic book stories. During the 1950s, she became an occasional star in Dell's Four Color Comics, where second-string Disney characters like Bongo Bear and Little Hiawatha also got a shot at the limelight, which devoted abbout a half-dozen issues, scattered over the latter part of the decade, to Daisy Duck's Diary.

Also introduced in 1950s Dell comics were Daisy's three identical nieces, mimicking Donald's nephews, named April, May and June. Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose) created them as members of The Little Chickadees, a female scouting organization to rival The Junior Woodchucks.

In the 1970s, Daisy again became a comic book star. Western Printing, first under its Gold Key Comics imprint and then as Whitman, published 59 issues of Donald and Daisy between 1973 and '83.

Back in animation, Daisy appeared only in a dozen or so cartoons back in the heyday of Disney shorts. Whereas Donald had appeared in such features as Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, Daisy wasn't in any features. After a long absence from the screen, she returned in Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983). She was also in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Fantasia 2000. She's become a regular in 21st century Disney Channel animation, such as House of Mouse and Mickey's Clubhouse. Her voice in Mickey's Christmas Carol was done by Patricia Parris (Christopher Robin's mother in Winnie the Pooh). In Fantasia 2000 she was Russi Taylor (Martin Prince in The Simpsons). More recently, she's been done by Tress Macneille (Charlotte Pickles in Rugrats and All Grown Up).

— DDM

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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © The Walt Disney Co.