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Quackmore Duck was an anthropomorphic duck. He was the father of Donald Duck and Della Duck, husband of Hortense McDuck, the son of Humperdink Duck and Elvira Duck, the brother-in-law of Scrooge McDuck and Matilda McDuck, the maternal grandfather of Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck, the grandson-in-law of Dingus McDuck and Molly McDuck, the father-in-law of Della's husband, the nephew-in-law of Angus McDuck and Jake McDuck, and also the son-in-law of Fergus McDuck and Downy McDuck. However, Fergus and Downey (and likely also Angus and Jake) were dead by the time Quackmore met Hortense, so he never knew his in-laws.
At the farm
Quackmore Duck grew up the son of wealthy farmers Elvira Coot (later to be known as Grandma Duck) and her husband (by most accounts Humperdink Duck), in their farm in Duckburg. He was strikingly similar to his future son Donald Duck, sharing both his physical appearance, his habit to wear blue suits, and, most obviously, his fast-igniting temper. Although this might have been just a whim, this young Quackmore was shown to be very protective of his mother's corn fields, instantly making whoever damaged them his enemy.
In 1902, travelling tycoon Scrooge McDuck settled on Killmotor Hill (next to the Duck farm) with his two sisters Matilda and Hortense. Scrooge, due to a false move, crashed his car in the corn field, greatly angering Quackmore, who instantly began to shout at the three strangers. The equally hot-tempered Hortense took her brother's defense and began to shout at the farmhand in return, which greatly surprised Quackmore, who was not used to other people answering him on the same tone whenever he was angry. The two angry ducks quickly fell in love and got engaged. Their only disagreement seemed to be on the chapter of their future children's name, as Hortense was violently opposed to any of her sons being named “Donald”, a battle which she, obviously, eventually lost.
A husband and a businessman
When his wife's brother left Duckburg to search treasures and financial opportunities all over the world for a period of more than twenty years, he left Quackmore in charge of the Money Bin and of his Duckburg daily business, following Hortense's suggestion. According to his rising social status, the former farmhand began to dress more formally and to groom his hair. He could also control his temper better, then. He appears to have possessed good skills at business, and is not for nothing in Scrooge's eventual reaching of the "richest in the world" status.
Quackmore and Hortense eventually had children: Donald and Della, which they raised with much love. In their days of parenthood (in the 1920's), Quackmore and Hortense were described as fun-loving in spite of not being very wealthy (which can be attributed to Scrooge's usually low pays). However, in 1930, Hortense and Matilda had a very violent argument with their brother Scrooge, and decided to leave him, never to talk to him again. The hot-tempered Hortense left the building immediately, dragging her husband behind, and neither of them were ever heard from again. Donald was subsequently left to his grandmother's care.
Little is known of Quackmore's life after he left Scrooge McDuck's employment. He apparently began to sport a twisted moustache at some point.
Behind the scenes
Quackmore Duck's name first appeared in Carl Barks's first Duck family tree from the 1950's, where the name was given to the father of Donald Duck and the son of Grandma Duck. Though this is the first time the name Quackmore Duck was used, the character of "Donald's father" had already been mentioned at least two other times and some information about him had already been divulged. Around 1935, the character of Donald's father was mentioned by Donald himself in the second episode of the radio show Meet Mickey Mouse. In this scene, which is likely the earliest mention of Donald's parents and one of the earliest dives into Duck family lore, Donald says that his father committed adultery and left his wife, Donald's mother. After this, Donald reverted to his mother's maiden name, "Duck." This, of course, only makes sense if Donald's father's surname is not Duck. It is not known if Donald's sire's surname is mentioned in the radio show or not, but since "duck" is the word used for females of the species, one might assume that Donald's father's last name was intended to be "Drake."
Donald's father would receive another mention in the 1942 cartoon short Donald Gets Drafted. Here, Donald mentions his father in passing and states that he was an aviator. Donald's father received yet another brief mention in the 1955 comic story written by Guido Martina, Paperino e l'eredità indiana, in which Donald says that both of his parents are deceased. More information about Donald's father is given in the 1961 television episode, The Hunting Instinct, where Walt Disney says that Professor Ludwig Von Drake is "Don's father's brother" and that the is the "paternal side" of Donald's family. This is, of course, consistent with Meet Mickey Mouse. Indeed, it seems that Barks's tree is actually the outlier, with the general consensus in the first two three decades of the character's development being that he was surnamed Drake, with Donald taking his mother's maiden name. This would also imply that Grandma Duck was seen as Donald's maternal grandmother or, perhaps, his mother, instead of his paternal grandmother as Barks had imagined.
After years of being referenced and mentioned, Donald's father finally made his first known physical appearance in the July 1977 story Donald Duck Writes a Book, which featured art by Franco Lostaffa. Both he and his wife, Donald's mother, appear in a flashback and are mentioned by their son in the present-day. As far as is known, Donald's father would not appear again in an official, published comic until 1994. It was then that Donald's father made a physical appearance in The Invader of Fort Duckburg, a chapter of Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck saga which takes place in the past and chronicles the life of Donald's uncle Scrooge McDuck prior to his first appearance in Christmas on Bear Mountain. Instead of depicting Donald's father as a member of the "egghead" (as per Walt Disney's onscreen description in The Hunting Instinct) Drake family, Rosa based his depiction on Barks's tree, portraying Donald's father as Quackmore Duck, the short-tempered son of Grandma Duck. Quackmore would go on to appear in subsequent chapters of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and in a flashback in Rosa's The Sign of the Triple Distelfink.
Following the popularity of Rosa's take on Donald's father, theories have been made by fans to explain the contradiction with his earlier mentions in Meet Mickey Mouse and Hunting Instinct. One fan theory is that Donald's father and Ludwig von Drake are still brothers but are actually half-brothers, with Quackmore being the son of Humperdink Duck and Elvira Coot, as per Barks's tree and Rosa's works, and Ludwig being the son of Humperdink Duck and a certain Mrs Von Drake. Another fan theory is that the "father" Donald talked about in Meet Mickey Mouse was not in fact Quackmore but was a different man who married Hortense after Quackmore's early death shortly after his last chronological appearance in The Empire-Builder from Calisota and was thus Donald's stepfather. According to this theory, Donald didn't really revert to his mother's maiden name, which would be McDuck as per Life and Times, but instead switched to his mother's previous name and the surname of his biological father, Duck.
Notes & References
- Don Rosa's Duck Family Tree Sketch
- Paperino e l'eredità indiana (INDUCKS: I TL 118-BP)
- And also, according to some continuities, another son.
- Donald Gets Drafted
- "‘What Do We Get from a Disney Film if We Cannot See It?’: The BBC and the ‘Radio Cartoon’ 1934–1941"
- "Ludwig von Drake" thread on The Feathery Society