Pablo at home. Artist: Walt Kelly


Original Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1945
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Pablo Penguin was a result of a goodwill tour Walt Disney's organization made southward in the early 1940s. The tour itself brought the group to locations throughout Latin America, but not all of the new characters resulting from it came from an actual …

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… American continent. At least one, Pablo, was from farther south yet — you can't get much farther in that direction than Antarctica.

Pablo was the original cold-blooded penguin. You'd think an idea like that, an Antarctic penguin, living in an Eskimo-style igloo from the other end of the world, whose major motivation was to find warmth, would be good for a series. But Disney never made one with him — once Pablo had succeeded (with amusing difficulty) in relocating to warmer climes, as far as Disney was concerned, his entire story had been told. In 1949, an attempt was made to roll back his story and make a comic book character of him when, in a crossover with Dumbo, he was seen re-relocated back to Antarctica, but the Disney organization didn't follow up on that.

It was Walter Lantz's studio that, years later, made its second-biggest star (after Woody Woodpecker) out of Pablo's clone, Chilly Willy.

The telling of Pablo's story took place in The Three Caballeros, released Feb. 3, 1945. Like most Disney features of the 1940s, this wasn't a true feature, but consisted of several unrelated segments, of which Pablo starred in one. Unlike other such features, however, this one had a tenuous plot thread tying it together, in which the caballeros of the title (Donald Duck, José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles) had an adventure together and unrelated tales, without which the story wouldn't have been nearly long enough to stand as a feature, got told as they did so. One of them introduced Donald to a recurring pestiferous antagonist, The Aracuan bird. Another was about an Argentine boy and his winged burro. Pablo's, inserted as a movie Donald watched, was titled The Cold-Blooded Penguin.

Rather than being acted out the regular way, this segment used only voice-over narration to accompany the animation. Thus, Pablo didn't speak, so nobody did his voice. The narrator was character actor Sterling Holloway, whose other Disney credits include Mr. Stork in both Dumbo and Lambert the Sheepish Lion, and The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. The Cold Blooded Penguin was also released separately, a few months later, as a seven-minute short.

Despite this slight separate existence in the movies, Pablo's media fortunes were tied to those of the main feature. Where it appeared, he appeared as part of it; where it didn't, he didn't. Particularly notable among media versions was the Dell comic book adaptation, which was drawn by Walt Kelly (Pogo).

As a one-shot character, Pablo has no likely future, but is firmly tied to the ever-receding past. But he does have immortality of a sort. Chilly Willy, "inspired" by him, isn't likely to be forgotten soon.


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