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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January 2005, 01:55 GMT
Living life as Donald Duck
By Jane Elliott
BBC News Health Reporter

The Donald Ducks
GP Dr Donald Duck and his Disney namesake (pic left Nick Angel)

When the Duck family named their son 80 years ago they had no hesitation in choosing the name Donald - a nice solid name with no baggage.

Little were they to know that just 10 years later the same name would be chosen by Walt Disney for one of his famous characters and that over the years it would become a name synonymous with just one thing - a cartoon duck.

It was 1934 when Disney's irascible Donald Duck came to life with a small part in The Wise Little Hen, but he stole the show and was such a success that he went on to become one of the best known characters.

Eventually, there were 128 Donald Duck cartoons, but he also appeared in a number of others with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Pluto.

Comic strip

A daily Donald Duck newspaper comic strip began on 7 February, 1938, ensuring he was a household name globally.

But although he has had some ribbing down the years because of his more famous namesake, Donald Duck, the retired GP from Mallaig in the Highlands of Scotland, says he never considered changing his name.

I sent a patient to a hospital in Edinburgh. The doctor asked him what his doctor was called and when he said it was Donald Duck the doctor said he should be calling a psychiatrist for him
Donald Duck

"I think it is quaint. I have been asked once or twice why I did not change my name, but I have had so much fun with it.

"I was about 10 years old when Walt Disney called his character Donald Duck and it was when this cartoon character came out that people started to have so much fun with my name."

But he said that even before Walt Disney his surname Duck had still managed to make people laugh.

"When I was at school the headmaster was a cheeky and cheerful sort. He used to do the roll call and say was anyone absent. He would go through the list of names and he would say 'we have a fox and a duck, so is the duck still here?'

"It was a lot later that people started talking to me about the cartoon character."

"At first the name did not make any impression and then the other kids in the class would say 'Oh you are Donald Duck'."

Radio programme

The young Donald was asked up to London to take part in a radio programme, when he was 13-years-old, called In Town Tonight about his link with the famous character, but said the programme was never aired because the producers found his comments 'a little too boring' for the airwaves.

"All the series was about interesting actors or important people who were in London town and they just asked me if I would speak about my name."

Because he comes from such a remote and close community in the Highlands he said every one knew him and his name, but he said he once had problems when a patient needed to go to a hospital outside the area.

"I sent a patient to a hospital in Edinburgh and, when the person went along, the doctor asked him what his doctor was called. When he said it was Donald Duck the doctor said he should be calling a psychiatrist for him.

"Everybody here knows everybody, but I have had some people say 'what is your name? Donald Duck, ha ha that is amusing', but that is all really.

"I do remember coming out of surgery and seeing my car with a Donald Duck that a patient had put on it."

And he said that over the years the interest in his namesake had remained keen.

Recently he was invited to appear in a Channel 4 documentary called Namesakes with the less famous namesakes of Winston Churchill and David Beckham.

But despite getting so much fun out of the name himself, he said there was no way he was going to call his own children after any cartoon characters, particularly not Huey, Dewey or Louis - Donald's nephews.

"I would not dream of doing anything so ridiculous," he said.

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