tdr0886_A secret story behind how Donald’s voice was handed over by the first voice actor


Donald Duck first appeared in the film “The Wise Little Hen” in 1934. The very first person who performed the voice of Donald was Clarence Charles Nash, a short man from Oklahoma.

He had been working at a radio station in Los Angeles. After this film, he kept voicing Donald until 1985, performing in over 180 films.

Due to this career, his close friends used to call him Ducky.

After Clarence’s death, Donald’s voice was taken over by Tony Anselmo, who was 18 years old back then. What is surprising is not only that he was so young but also that he had worked as an animator in Disney with no experience as a voice actor.

Eager to join Disney, Tony studied hard to become an animator. At 16 years old, he started to study under Jack Hannah, who had worked as a director on many short films featuring Donald. After learning drawing techniques for 3 years, he joined Disney.

On his very first day in Disney, he had a wonderful chance meeting.

He happened to meet a grey-haired, 5.2-ft tall man coming out from the animation building, who said “Good morning!” to him with a voice exactly like Donald Duck’s.

Yes, it was their first encounter with each other.

After that, Tony and Clarence became good friends. Tony started to imitate the voice of Donald in front of Clarence just for fun.

At first, he found it difficult even to make a similar sound and his voice was far from Clarence’s. But as he kept practicing in the shower room and car and made great progress until Clarence admitted “That’s Donald’s voice.”

At that point, however, he was just imitating the voice and did not understand Donald’s characteristics and mentality at all.

Six months before his death, Clarence started to randomly visit Tony’s work room to give quizzes such as “What would Donald think in this situation?” and “What kind of voice would Donald make?” to deepen Tony’s understanding about Donald’s mentality.

At that time, Tony was having fun to answer these quizzes but did not understand why Clarence kept asking such questions.

During the Donald’s 50th birthday event, Tony worried about Clarence’s absence. Then, he was informed by Clarence’s wife that he had been hospitalized for leukemia. He rushed to the hospital.

At the hospital, Clarence said to Tony, “You will now be Donald’s voice.”

Clarence had been thinking that it was only Tony who could take over Donald’s voice. Tony replied to him, “No, please don’t die”, but the wish did not come true. Clarence passed away from leukemia.

Clarence had asked questions about Donald’s mentality to develop his successor, knowing that he was approaching the end of his life.

This was how Tony (happened to, he says) start playing Donald’s voice, making tremendous efforts.

By the way, making Donald’s characteristic angry voice requires considerable power and energy. Tony once asked Jack Hannah, “Would Ducky (Clarence) do such a hard work with ease?” when he was having a hard time.

It is said that Jack answered, “No way. He would sometimes faint.”

It is surprising that even Clarence, who had been voicing Donald for such a long time, sometimes fainted…

We can see how much he had trusted Tony for his ability to play such a difficult voice.

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