Happy Donald Duck Day from Italy! Yes, I know what you’re thinking – another one of those weird holidays. 🙄 Sorry, they just seem to get the best of me! But this one actually commemorates something. His Italian début in The Wise Little Hen on June 9, 1934!
Donald Duck has achieved nearly worldwide fame. And in most nations, he’s known by his name: Donald plus the local word for Duck. In the Czech Republic he’s known as Kacer Donald. In Indonesia as Bebek Donald. And Spain knows him as Pato Donald.
Likewise, Mickey Mouse usually bears his given name. The French call him Mickey la Souris. In Norway he harkens to Mikke Mus. And in Russia Mukku Mayc.
But he’s not Donald in Italy!
Donald is known by his own name in many nations, but not in Italy, partly due to Fascism. And perhaps in part to Italy’s prolific black market.
The first Italian editor didn’t secure rights before publishing Mickey Mouse as Topolino (or little mouse) in 1932. Naturally, Disney complained. So the editor created a new mouse, calling him “Top Lino,” or a mouse named Lino.
After eventually buying the publishing rights, they changed back to the original drawings and the name Topolino. By then it was too late to introduce him as something like Topo Mickey. Topolino was too well known and much loved.
So Topolino he remained and still is! Just as Donald, rather than being called Donald Papera, has forever remained simply Paperino.
It’s difficult to say whether, as Italy gradually received more foreign influence, they might have eventually added Mickey and Donald to their names. But the rise of Fascism would have quickly terminated any such thought.
Mickey banned during Fascism
First the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini decided to forbid the publication of all American stories, except Disney’s. Some seem to think that perhaps Mussolini or his children liked Disney. Or maybe he simply gave in to their great popularity.
In any case, they temporarily overlooked the fact that Disney was American. And Topolino lived on. Until 1941 when the USA entered World War II and even Disney stories were banned. Effectively ensuring that Topolino would never become Topo Mickey in Italy.
No foreign names
Fascism, with its policy of Italian superiority did not approve of foreign names. Everything had to be Italianized, including comic book characters. And those names have stuck.
|American Name||Italian Name|
|Mickey Mouse||Topolino (or little mouse)|
|Pluto||Pluto (probably because of the planet)|
|Chip and Dale||Cip e Ciop|
|Donald Duck||Paperino (little duck)|
|Daisy Duck||Paperina (female little duck)|
|Scrooge McDuck||Zio Paperone (big uncle duck)|
|Donald’s 3 nephews||Qui, Quo e Qua (derivative of the “qua” sound a duck makes in Italy|
But no matter what names they go by, these famous Disney characters are much-loved practically everywhere! Including Italy!
And how about you? Would you like to celebrate Donald Duck Day? Do so by watching Topolino e Paperino in Topolino a Pesca (Topolino Goes Fishing)!