Saturday 18 March 2023

A Little Lundy

In the Disney lore, Dick Lundy was the one who came up with the quintessential Donald Duck, angry and ready to fight, hopping up and down with his fist extended.

Lundy was an early employee of Walt Disney, hired in July 1929. Among his other accomplishments for the studio was animation on The Three Little Pigs and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (he received no bonus money for the latter). Despite his loyalty during the studio strike in 1941, Lundy was fired by Disney in October 1943. Animator Fred Kopietz told author Michael Barrier that Uncle Walt was looking out the window and wouldn’t face Lundy, who wanted to know what his next assignment for the studio was. The assignment was to pick up his final pay. Several weeks later, his career took him to Walter Lantz. Lundy followed with stops at MGM and, after a period working on commercial and industrial films, starting with Dudley TV Corp. in 1951, Hanna-Barbera.

Some fans say the Lantz cartoons were the most attractive during Lundy’s directorial reign in the last half of the ‘40s. He had a fine group of animators, some from Disney, and his classical music cartoons were top notch. He once remarked how, at Lantz, he favoured personality animation over gags. Lundy seems to have liked his time at Lantz, leaving only because the studio shut down. He told author Joe Adamson: “Walter Lantz is the type that falls into a cesspool and comes out smelling like three lilies. No matter what he does, whether it’s right or wrong, it seems to work out for him. You can call it what you want. I call it luck.”

Lundy took over Tex Avery’s unit at MGM during Avery’s extended time off, mainly directing Barney Bear cartoons. He was hired as an animator at H-B to work on both the Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw shows (he was one of the animators of Snuffles).

Here’s a feature story on Lundy from the Banner-Press of David City, Nebraska, June 15, 1981. His explanation about Mickey Mouse is, well, interesting. Soundman Jimmy MacDonald took over as the voice of Mickey, so the claim about Walt and a lack of time doesn’t ring true.

Donald Duck, Woody Woodpecker animator visits daughter in county
By Jim Reisdorff
Special Correspondent
Dick Lundy is responsible for making Donald what he is today— a tempermental duck.
The former animator for such big-name cartoon animation production companies as Walt Disney and Hanna Barbara made a private visit to this area last week. Lundy and his wife, Mabel, from Vista, Ca., visited with their son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. John McFadden of Brainard.
Those who grew up watching cartoons in moviehouses and on television are likely familiar with such characters as Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Yogi Bear and Fred Flintstone. Less well known are the actual people, such as Lundy, whose drawing and directing talents brought these loveable creatures to screen life.
Lundy retired in 1974 after 45 years in animation. He started with the Walt Disney studios in California in 1929. “There were 17 employees at Disney when I started, and that included Roy (Walt’s brother) and the janitor,” said Lundy. He added this later grew to where Disney employed over 1,600.
Lundy’s original work at Disney was as one of the actual animators. They drew the frame-by-frame film action of the characters that was then speeded up to give an impression of physical motion. He later directed the plotline and action of full-length Disney cartoon films as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Donald Duck first appeared as a minor character in the cartoon short “The Wise Little Hen.” Lundy said he was appointed to animate Donald's action in the next film called “Orphan's Benefit.” The scenario called for Donald to appear on stage and recite “Mary Had a Little Lamb” while the audience heckled him. Lundy then devised Donald’s temper tantrum characteristics of flailing his fists, jumping up and down, while quacking incoherently. This proved so popular that Donald was then given his own cartoon series.
Lundy noted the raspy (and now popularly imitated) voice of Donald was done by Clarence Nash, a milkman whose voice talent was discovered by Disney.
The “stardom” of Donald Duck didn’t exactly mean the popularily decline of Disney ’s original character, Mickey Mouse, although Donald was then used in more cartoons than Mickey, said Lundy. Walt Disney insisted on personally doing Mickey's squeaky voice. So because of Disney's busy schedule in studio managing, Mickey's film appearances were limited in later years to special occasions.
Lundy described the late Walt Disney as being “your typical artist-genius.” But disagreements with Disney caused Lundy to quit in 1943 and join the Walter Lantz productions. Lantz’s most famous creation which Lundy helped animate was a wood pecker with the "Ha-Ha-Haa-Ha’’ cry.
After five years with Lantz, Lundy briefly joined the M G-M Movie Studio animation department. He then worked on the Lucille Ball Show staff by making animated caricatures of Lucy and Desi Arnez [sic] which introduced the Phillip Morris cigarette commercials in the show.
Animation-making was becoming extremely expensive by this time, said Lundy. In 1958 he joined the animation partners of Hanna and Barbera, who had developed a "limited animation” technique of cartoons directly for television. Lundy finished his active animation work with Hanna Barbera which continues, to supply Saturday morning cartoon watchers with characters as the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo.
He hasn’t been inside a movie theater in 10 years, but Lundy admitted to occasionally turning on the afternoon TV children's matinee, "out of curiosity more than anything else,” to see if they're still showing the cartoons he worked on.
Mrs. John (Divianna) McFadden added she also watches cartoon re-runs to see if she can pick out her dad’s name in the credits. Mrs. McFadden works for the Nebraska Department of Education in Lincoln as a supervisor in the special education department.

Richard James Lundy was born Aug 14, 1907 in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. His father James S. Lundy was an adding machine inspector. His parents lived in Detroit soon after his birth, divorced when he was 12 and his mother Minnie raised him on a waitress' salary. After arriving in California, he found work as a bank teller before being hired at Disney.

Dick Lundy retired to San Diego, where he died on April 7, 1990 at the age of 82.


  1. I find it very strange that Dick Lundy was let go at Disney. All of his cartoons were great at both Disney and Lantz. His early animation of Donald is as good as anything Disney ever did. I guess this explains why he was never listed as one of Donald Duck's creators.

  2. It seemed that anyone at Disney who had some sort of clash, disagreement or even an attitude (ego) with Walt Disney ended up either 'running out of work', being re-assigned to unfavorable projects or being fired outright. This happened to a number of people like Jack Kinney, Ward Kimball (Kimball ended up laying low), Bill Peet (in Peets' case he walked out). At Disney, Walt was King and as long as you treated him with respect, you could be considered a valued member of the team. Milt Kahl was one of the few who could actually have a disagreement with Walt and live to see another day working at the studio.

    1. What's unusual in Lundy's case is he supported Disney during the strike. He was no Babbitt. Something must ticked off Walt at some time.

    2. Well, Kahl was one of the worst Humans in history, so that's a mystery.