On this page is the biography of Donald Duck as can be reconstituted from as many sources as can be compiled into a mostly consistent whole. It is ever a work in progress, and you are welcome to add to it; however, all sources must be mentioned.
Baby Years (1920-1925)
Donald Fauntleroy Duck, an anthropomorphic duck, was born in 1920 to Quackmore Duck and Hortense McDuck, although there exists one divergent account which places him as the son of a brother of Scrooge McDuck's rather than of his sister Hortense. He was one of a pair of twins, born alongside his sister, Della. Either his egg was laid or he hatched from said egg on a Friday the 13th., while the other milestone, be it the laying of the egg or his hatching from the egg, likely occurred on June 9. This can be inferred from the fact that, later in life, he would celebrate his birthday on both Friday the 13th and June the 9th.
Years later, in what was likely an exaggerated retelling of his own life, Donald would indicate that his egg hatched after it fell out of a nest in a tree, and that he was then found by his Grandma Duck and uncle, Scrooge McDuck, who brought him to Grandma Duck's farm. A photo found for an episode of The Jiminy Cricket Show, however, showed Donald's egg as hatching in a hay-filled bassinet, contradicting Donald's "egg in a tree" narrative, though most sources agree Donald spent much, if not all, of his childhood on Elvira Duck's farm in Quack Town, showing that not all of Donald's claims about his birth are false.
According to a photo used in an episode of The Jiminy Cricket Show, he hatched while throwing a temper tantrum, thus showing signs of a short temper and a hot head even at a young age. His and his sister's births were announced in an edition of Duckburg Times as his mother was notable for being the younger sister of famous businessman, Scrooge McDuck.
During his infant years, he spent some time with other babies such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pete, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Gyro Gearloose, and Pluto as well as two of his relatives, his distant cousin, Gus Goose, and his first cousin, Gladstone Gander, often frequenting the same nurseries as them. 
As a baby and toddler, Donald was often babysat by Grandma Duck, leaving her to deal with his perfectionism and temper tantrums. He developed a nasty habit of banging his head on the floor whilst in the midst of a tantrum. Grandma tried to cure this by having him interact with her farm animals, but he would still find things to become cross about and would end up banging his head on the ground. Thinking that it would do him good, Grandma then took him into Duckburg, where little Donnie found a statue of a sailor that caught his eye. When he hit his head on the sculpture, he proceeded to throw yet another tantrum. This tantrum would lead to Grandma being arrested and charged with "disturbing the peace... mistreating a duckling... and damaging a statue", as the police officer responsible for the arrest believed that she was banging Donald's head against the statue, failing to recognize that Donald was doing it voluntarily. She was acquitted when Donald began to bang his head on the judge's desk.
On the way back to the farm from the trip, Grandma and Donald stopped by a ship docked in Duckburg's harbor, which the captain allowed them to tour. During the tour, Donald tried to swipe a blue cap belonging to one of the sailors. When his swiping failed, he began to throw a typical tantrum, banging his head on the floor. This time, his head banging actually did good, as it lead to the captain noticing that one of the ship's holds was filled with water. As an award, he was allowed to keep the blue sailor's cap he so strongly wanted. He would still throw tantrums, but his nasty head-banging habit ceased "so as not to hurt his hat" according to Grandma. Though it seems he quit this awful habit temporarily, he would still sometimes bang his head against something out of frustration years later as an adult. He would continue to wear this hat and hats similar to it for years to come.
At some point, Grandma made him a Fauntleroy-style suit out of old clothes. Perhaps it was because of his sailor's cap and suit which resembled a sailor's clothes that Donald, at an early age, began to dream of becoming a sailor, in contrast to his sister, Della, who dreamed of becoming a pilot. He would also eventually develop another dream -- to become a guard at Scrooge McDuck's prominent Money Bin.
As a child, Donald met his younger cousin, Fethry Duck, while visiting Grandma’s home. Fethry, only a baby, was apparently being babysat by Grandma, much like how she had babysat Donald when he was a wee bairn. Donald initially resented his younger cousin, especially after he was forced to supervise him moments after meeting him. His supervision of Fethry led to him getting rammed in the back by Grandma's goat and flung straight into a freshly baked pie. Despite the clearly rough start, as the years went on, Fethry and Donald began to grow close to each other and became good friends.
Donald bumped into his babyhood friend Daisy Duck around this time, crashing into her while she was pushing a baby doll in a stroller. It appears, however, that the two did not yet begin to form a friendship or even much of an acquaintance.
Donald would spend much of these early childhood years with his sister, Della, as the two partook in many activities together.
As a child, Donald was not much of an academic. It is said that he repeated the 5th grade, which he likely would have first attended in 1930, at least two times. He was, however, a champion eater, winning a pie-eating contest in 1930.
were introduced to their uncle, Scrooge McDuck, at his Money Bin, as he had just returned to Duckburg after a business trip that lead him across the globe. The two, along with their parents, their Aunt Matilda, Emily Quackfaster (Scrooge's secretary), and other Money Bin employees, threw a surprise party to welcome the tycoon home. Sadly, Donald's first moments with Uncle Scrooge did not last long, as the greedy businessman got into a heated argument with Hortense, causing the Duck family to storm out of the Money Bin, though not before Donald kicked his uncle's rear.
Even though their meeting was brief, Scrooge and Donald would still remember each other. At one point, Scrooge visited the Ducks' home searching for Hortense. He did not find her, as she was not at home at the time. Instead, he spoke with Donald and Della, giving them a quick lesson in how to make money as he led the two in an effort to sell hot water bottles to people in line at the local movie theater.
His parents progressively disappear from the records at this point, though opinions are split as to what had happened to them; it may be that they were merely so busy with work that they left most of Donald's upbringing up to Elvira, even if an early death for at least one of them does seem likely. At any rate, they were both dead by 1955.
While living on the farm with Grandma, Donald would subsequently spend much more time with his uncle, as Elvira, unlike her children, remained at the very least on speaking terms with him. Scrooge even gifted the younger with a set of drums, following an occasion where Elvira was forced to leave Donald in Scrooge's care for a day — a rather momentous day, as it also led to Scrooge hiring Albert Quackmore. 
Sometime around 1932, when Donald was around twelve years old, he was sent to a boarding school. There, he would be made to share a room with none other than his babyhood playmate, Mickey Mouse. The two were reintroduced to each other, likely not remembering their infantile friendship that existed a decade before. While at this boarding school, he would become reacquainted with others from his baby days as well as some new friends, most notably forging new friendships with Daisy Duck, Goofy, Minnie Mouse, and Trudy Van Tubb.
This boarding school may have been the same school he was known to have attended alongside Mickey, Goofy, Gyro Gearloose (another babyhood playmate), Gladstone Gander (both a babyhood playmate and first cousin), Jughead Jones, Rita Gansa, and his cousin, Fethry Duck. It is further known that Donald, Fethry, Gladstone, Daisy, and another cousin of Donald's, Gus Goose, once shared a class which was taught by Donald's relative Ludwig von Drake. It's possible that the school which included this class was the same boarding school in which he had been enrolled when he was around 12.
The beginnings of Donald's hitting on Daisy Duck did not go too well, as Daisy was put-off by Donald's temper (never mind that hers was no different). However, she progressively came to see Donald in a new light after he defended her from a bully making unwanted advances towards her.[FANWORK] This newfound romantic connection between the two soon put Donald at odds with his lucky cousin Gladstone, as one day, after besting Donald in a soccer game, Gladstone met and received the telephone number of Daisy, who it appears he did not remember from their baby days. That day, Donald determined to find Gladstone's good luck charm and receive good fortune for himself. He stole a rabbit's foot from Gladstone's toy chest and called Daisy's number, scheduling for the two to have a date at a local ice cream parlor and believing Gladstone's charm would bring him good fortune in the endeavor. Unfortunately for Donald, the rabbit's foot was nothing more than a mere key chain, and the number he called was actually Daisy's in reverse, the number of a different girl who Donald was not too keen on dating. This event would be one of the first of many times that Donald and Gladstone would rival for the affections of Daisy.
Despite not having gone on the date with Daisy he wanted to, it would appear that Donald managed to become friends or, at the very least, acquaintances with Daisy, as he, along with Della, Gyro, Gus, and Gladstone, attended one of her birthday parties when they were all still young. It's worth noting that, despite his closeness to Donald, Fethry did not attend the party and seems to have not even met Daisy until years later.
Among other spats between Donald and his lucky cousin was the time that both ran for class president and the time that Donald hoisted Gladstone, who was celebrating his birthday, by a rope, planning to throw rotten eggs at him. The rotten egg plan backfired, as Donald was electrocuted during his attempt.
At some point in this era of their lives, Donald and Fethry both joined the Junior Woodchucks. Their time there did not last long. While trying to earn their first badge,
they got into a fight with Jughead Jones, who was also a member of the scouting troop, after the latter tricked the Duck cousins into believing that some mythical beast was roaming through the woods. The fight lead to a fire. When they were confronted by a Junior Woodchuck chief about the incident, they were accused of lying, causing the two to be banished from the Junior Woodchucks. Jughead got off the hook, as he fled shortly after the fight began. It seems, however, that some Junior Woodchucks believed that the reason for Donald's expulsion from the organization was because of his temper and not because of his alleged dishonesty.
Probably due to being forced out of the Junior Woodchucks, Donald instead joined the Little Booneheads, a similar, albeit much less professional, scouting organization.
Teenage Years & Early Adulthood (1934-1944)
As a teenager, Donald attended Duckburg High School, which was also attended by Daisy Duck and Gladstone Gander. At some point around this time, he and Daisy stopped being just friends and began dating. The circumstances surrounding the start of this romance are unclear. Donald would later write the following in his diary, "My technique was simple. I swept her off her feet. My search was over. At last, I found my dream girl." However, it is unclear if he was writing regarding the start of their high school romance or a later fling, though the fact that Daisy still lived with her parents during the romance written of in his diary would indicate the former. At any rate, the fling with Daisy of which he wrote in his diary began on February the 29th of an unknown year.
Their first date, which seems to have occurred in March[note 2] of an unknown year no later than 1939, was not necessarily a good one. Both Donald and his sister, Della, were to star in a medieval-themed play and were rehearsing prior to when Donald's date with Daisy was scheduled. Due to daylight savings time having just passed, Donald grossly miscalculated the amount of time he would need to prepare for the date and ended up not having enough time before the date to take of his armor, much to the chagrin of Daisy, who did not appreciate Donald dressing like a fantasy character for their first date. She would even threaten to date Gladstone Gander instead.
Despite the rocky start, the couple persisted and continued to date, though, just as it had been on the first date, the possibility of Daisy leaving Donald for Gladstone continued to loom. The two cousins rivaled for Daisy's affections, just as they had years previously. One significant fight for Daisy between Donald and Gladstone occurred in the lead-up to prom after Daisy revealed that she wasn't sure whether she wished to attend prom with Donald or Gladstone, citing the former's love of trash-bin cramming, the fad of "seeing how many guys could squeeze into one trash basket", as reason not to go prom with him.
Desperately wanting to win against Gladstone and take Daisy to prom, Donald begin to tryout for various Duckburg High School sport teams, ultimately, though unintentionally, winning a letter in track while running away from the high school football team. He took out a loan of $5 from his uncle, Scrooge McDuck, apparently under the condition that he would work for him every summer until graduation. Of course, $5 was not enough to buy a fancy vehicle, so Donald was forced to use the resources to build his own car. Using an engine from a 1920 Mixwell, the body of a 1922 Dudge, axles from a 1923 Paclac, and wheels from a lawnmower, he put together a car he would own for years to come, 313.
Despite winning a letter in track, promising to work for Uncle Scrooge over summer, and building his own car, Donald was still unable to convince to Daisy to go to prom with him over Gladstone. Only after he used his ability to cram into tight spaces to get her an autograph from famed singer, Frank Swansong, was he able to persuade her, and even then, he was still asked to promise to lay aside his trash-bin cramming fun. Donald obliged, was able to go to prom with the girl he wanted to, and took up tuba cramming as a replacement for trash-bin cramming!
Donald spent some time traveling around the islands of the Pacific on his own. Though it was not yet the only article in his wardrobe, he often wore the same sailor suit that had been gifted to him by Grandma Duck. He eventually decided to travel back home; on the faith of this suit and little else, he got himself hired as a deckhand on a ship, only to be unexpectedly made the new captain of it as part of a bet between the real captain and the first mate.
The ship was soon attacked and sunk by Captain Percy's band of pirates; Donald bravely helped slow down the ship's sinking, remaining in the brig to manually work the pump while the rest of the crew escaped. Donald was believed to have gone down with the ship by the crew, but was actually rescued by a mysterious swimming woman who claimed to be a mere pearl-fisher but may have been something much stranger. She made him promise always to wear the same sailor suit, that she might recognize him for sure if they ever crossed paths again.
In 1937, Donald, now either 16 or 17, attended an amateur hour at a local neighborhood theater. The amateur hour was hosted by his longtime friend Mickey Mouse and its participants included two of his babyhood playmates, Clarabelle Cow and Peg-Leg Pete (or, at least, a Pete-lookalike). Angry at the amateur performances, Donald decided to perform himself. According to one account, he recited the song Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, while another account says that he sung The Fountain in the Park. Either way, all accounts agree that his performance was unpopular with the audience, much to Donald's chagrin. One account says that he threw tomatoes at the disapproving audience, while another says that he actually fired a gun at them.
At any rate, Donald's performance at the amateur hour, though unpopular, caught the attention of a Hollywood talent scout, who quickly had him sign a contract with filmmaker Walt Disney. It was probably because of this new gig as an actor that Donald purchased a home at 1313 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.
Just as his acting career was beginning and after he had bought a home in Hollywood, Donald was visited by the children of his sister Della, his very own nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck. They were sent by their mother to stay with Donald while their father recovered from an injury he received thanks to a prank pulled by them. The trio only stayed with Donald for a short time until they went back home.
In 1938, Huey, Dewey, and Louie were sent to stay with their "Unca Donald" once again while Della, who was a renowned pilot and astronaut, took the world's first-ever space rocket on a test flight. Della never returned from her journey, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie would begin to stay with Donald permanently. At some point, Donald was made the legal guardian of his nephews by a judge, and by 1941, he had officially adopted them.
Assuming that he was in school for 14 years, as is implied by his having repeated 5th grade at least twice, and that he started first grade in 1926 at the age of six, he would have graduated high school in 1940. He started college not too long after but appears to have already completed college by early 1941, based on statements made by Jiminy Cricket during an episode of The Jiminy Cricket Show. A picture used in that episode shows him standing by a college in a graduation gown, though it also shows him being literally kicked out of the facility. Considering the "graduation" picture, the apparent short window of time for him to attend college, and his later claim that he "didn't go to college", it's possible that Donald's time in college was brief and that he was kicked out of school before getting a degree, though this is unconfirmed.
At any rate, on March the 24th, 1941, Donald, then only 20 or 21, was drafted to serve in the United States Army. Among his drill sergeants was Peg-Leg Pete. Donald would even see combat in Japan as a commando, wiping out an entire Japanese airfield. In addition to his service on the field, Donald, already a somewhat experienced actor at this point, was chosen to star in some war propaganda films.
Notes and references
- Donald Gets Drafted
- Disney Comic Mailing List archive
- Dolly Paprika
- The Empire-Builder from Calisota
- The Finnish Duck Family Tree.
- Allo Donald!
- Donald's Happy Birthday
- The Three Caballeros
- The Duck Who Never Was
- From Egg to Duck
- This Is Your Life, Donald Duck (cartoon)
- This Is Your Life, Donald Duck (comic) Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; name ":5" defined multiple times with different content
- Donald Duckling
- The Life of Donald Duck
- Disney Babies
- Donald's Double Trouble
- Family Ties
- On Guard
- How I Miss Those Moments
- An untitled strip by Al Taliaferro, known on INDUCKS as YD 62-07-19
- An Amulet of Luck?
- Young Donald Duck
- Paperino e gli amici suoi (INDUCKS: I TL 1891-C)
- Donald's Golf Game (INDUCKS: YD 38-11-05)
- A Letter From Home
- Donald's First... Get-Rich Quick Scheme
- Paperino e l'eredità indiana (INDUCKS: I TL 118-BP)
- Spectacular Dissonance
- Donald Duckling and the Value of Zero (I TL 2334 -3)
- Plantastic Voyage
- Synopsis for Young Donald Duck
- Don Rosa's Duck Family Tree
- Fethry Duck, This Is Your Life (INDUCKS: B 830133)
- How Donald and Daisy met!.
- Donald's First Party
- Suds In Your Eye
- The Election
- The Sign of the Triple Distlefink
- Ten-Star Generals
- Donald's Diary
- The Proof (INDUCKS: YD 42-09-12)
- Donald's First Date
- Recalled Wreck
- Volcano Valley
- The Odyssey
- Mickey's Amateurs
- The New Spirit
- Donald's Nephews (comic)
- Zio Paperone e la balena sapiente (INDUCKS: I TL 898-A)
- Happy Birthday, Flintheart Glomgold (INDUCKS: D 2005-197)
- Commando Duck