Since 1985, Tony Anselmo has entertained children and adults alike as the voice of Donald Duck.
Anselmo is just one of the celebrities that will appear this weekend at the Mighty Con toy, comic and gaming convention at Pheasant Run Resort’s Megacenter, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles.
There will be a preview night from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 21. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, June 22, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 23. Tickets are $10 for a day pass and $15 for a weekend pass, available at www.mightycon.com.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Anselmo about his career.
Eric Schelkopf: Is it fun for you to go to these different conventions? What do you get out of the experience?
Tony Anselmo: I have friends that live out there for this one, so it’s an opportunity to kind of kill two birds with one stone.
I do go to a lot of different conventions, and I always enjoy meeting fans. It’s nice to be appreciated by them.
ES: You’ve been the voice of Donald Duck since 1985. I understand that Clarence Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck, trained you before he passed away.
TA: I was his apprentice. So, I was already there as an animator, working on traditional animated features. That’s how I started at Disney in 1977.
And I became Clarence’s apprentice for Donald a few years into it. I did that for about three years. I hadn’t recorded anything while he was alive.
When he passed away, he had arranged it for me to carry the torch from there.
ES: Was it hard to get the voice down? What tips did he give you?
TA: Well, if I told you that, I would have to kill you, in true Chicago style.
It was a long process, so it’s not even an easy explanation.
ES: What made you want to do Donald Duck’s voice?
TA: I was doing other incidental voices, and Donald wasn’t one that I could do, so I think he saw potential.
Besides Clarence Nash, who showed me how Donald sounds, I also had a mentor, Jack Hannah, who was the director of the Donald Duck short cartoons made under Walt Disney.
He was the one who showed me how to draw Donald and animate him. I don’t know if a lot of people know I do both. As an animator, I’ve worked on such films as “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King.”
The first one was “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” That was the first chance I had to draw Donald. Clarence did the voice of Donald in that one, and then a couple of years after that, I took on the voice, as well.
ES: I understand you wanted to work for Disney since you were young.
TA: Well, when I was 16, I would go in and meet with the animators. I was writing them for advice and talking to them on the phone about what I needed to learn in school to work at Disney.
ES: What makes Donald Duck and the other Disney characters so enduring?
TA: Walt understood about putting personality in animation. The Warner Bros. cartoons and the MGM cartoons were based on gags.
Walt understood personalities that an audience can relate to and that are appealing. And that is what makes them timeless and resonate with the audience in a way that you always remember them.