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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Original Production Animation Drawing of a Mouse Orphan from "Orphan's Benefit," 1934


Original production drawing of a Mouse Orphan from "Orphan's Benefit," 1934; Graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 5 lower right; Size - Mouse Orphan: 2 1/2 x 2 3/4", Sheet 9 1/2 x 12"; Unframed.


"Orphan's Benefit" is an animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions that was first released as a black-and-white cartoon in 1934. The film features Mickey Mouse and his friends putting on a Vaudeville-style benefit show for a group of unruly orphans. It features original music by Frank Churchill, was directed by Burt Gillett, and distributed by United Artists. The voice cast includes Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse, Clarence Nash as Donald Duck, and Florence Gill as Clara Cluck. The film was the debut of Clara Cluck who would go on to appear in six other cartoon shorts.

"Orphan's Benefit" was the first joint appearance of both Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Donald had previously appeared only in a single Silly Symphonies film. Although "Orphan's Benefit" was Donald's second appearance, the film was the first to significantly develop his character. Many of Donald's personality traits first seen in "Orphan's Benefit," would become permanently associated with him; such as his love of showmanship, his fierce determination, belligerence, and most famously his easily provoked temper. The film also introduced some of Donald's physical antics, such as his signature temper tantrum of hopping on one foot while holding out one fist while swinging the other. This sequence was the creation of animator Dick Lundy, who termed this Donald's "fighting pose." The great Walt Disney animator Ward Kimball said, "the reaction (to Orphan's Benefit) that came pouring into the studio from the country was tremendous. The kids in the theater loved or hated or booed Donald Duck." The overwhelming response of audiences to Donald Duck led him to be featured in future Disney cartoons.


Close up of the Mouse Orphan original production animation drawing.

Orphan's Benefit also represented a new direction for Disney film shorts, as noted by Disney historian Marcia Blitz: "It can be seen that the framework of "Orphan's Benefit" was traditionally slapstick. Audiences laughed at Donald's physical mishaps much as they laughed at Chaplin's or Keaton's. But in this instance there was the added dimension of Donald's abrasive personality. Surely nothing like it had ever been seen in a cartoon". Animator Ward Kimball who worked on the film called it a "turning point" for the studio, citing its extensive use of character animation which was used to physically convey personality.


Close up of the production number.

In 1989, an animation cel from "Orphan's Benefit," depicting Donald Duck being punched by an orphan, sold for $286,000 (then £174,390) at a Christie's auction in New York. Guinness World Records confirmed this was the most expensive black and white animation cel.

The opening of "Orphan's Benefit" has mice orphans arriving at a theater for a free show entitled, "Mickey's Big Show: Orphan's Benefit." As they file into the building they are given free lollipops, ice cream, and balloons. This is a rare original production animation drawing of one of the Mouse Orphans holding a dripping ice cream cone. A wonderful full figure, eyes and mouth image of an Orphan seated in the show theater.