The Three Caballeros was produced as part of the studio’s good will message for South America. The film starred Donald Duck, joined by old friend José Carioca, the cigar-smoking parrot from Saludos Amigos (1942) representing Brazil and later making a new friend in the persona of a pistol-packing rooster, Panchito Pistoles, representing Mexico.
Several Latin American stars of the period appear, including singers Aurora Miranda (sister of Carmen Miranda) and Dora Luz as well as dancer Carmen Molina.
The film is plotted as a series of self-contained segments, strung together by the device of Donald Duck opening birthday gifts from his Latin American friends. The film premiered in Mexico City on December 21, 1944. It was released in the United States on February 3, 1945. The film received two Academy Award nominations for Original Music Score and Best Sound.
These animatronics have had a very long life and a very long journey. They originally appeared in The Mickey Mouse Review in Fantasyland in Walt Disney World, one of three original attractions on opening day.
When they were removed from Walt Disney World, they went to Toyko Disneyland and performed there until around 2009. The show was finally replaced there by Mickey’s Philharmagic just recently.
Below are photos of the animatronics while on display in the Archives Room. I would love to see these put back in use as part of the Gran Fiesta Tour attraction located in the Mexican Pavilion of World Showcase in Epcot.
- This was the first time Walt Disney had attempted the technique of combining animation with live actors since the Alice Comedies in the 1920s.
- Clarence Nash also provides the voice of Donald Duck in the Spanish-dubbed version, giving Donald a charming American accent that complements José Carioca’s Brazilian and Panchito’s Northern Mexican ones.
- Donald Duck & José Carioca would team up again in Blame it on the Samba segment of the 1948 anthology feature Melody Time.