The birds of a feather that together make up the Three Caballeros may have solidified their legacy with the 1944 animated Disney feature, but one-third of this trio actually debuted two years before that. José Carioca, a pal of Donald Duck, first premiered on screen in 1942’s Saludos Amigos.
The dapper green parrot is a native of Brazil – thus his last name, Carioca, which is a term that refers to someone born there. In Saludos Amigos, José appears in the film’s fourth segment, “Aquarela do Brasil,” in which he meets Donald for the first time. He then shows Donald around the country, shares regional food and drinks with him, and teaches him how to do a proper samba. Saludos Amigos proved to be popular in Latin American countries, leading to the further development of The Three Caballeros.
José – also known as simply Zé or as Joe on occasion – went on to star in his own series of comic strips and comic books in Brazil. He is shown living with his pals Nestor and Pedro, and his girlfriend Maria Vaz. In these books he takes part in various soccer matches and even has a heroic alter-ego, Morcego Verde (the Green Bat). He has also appeared in various Donald Duck comics in the U.S.
Though his films released in the 1940s, José has maintained some contemporary popularity due to some occasional appearances in the recent Mickey Mouse and DuckTales cartoon series, and as a focus of the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros ride at Epcot in Walt Disney World.
Hake’s Auctions currently has a significant Disney auction, which closes on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Two vintage José pencil sharpeners from the 1940s are part of this auction, one with a rounded edge bearing just the image of José and the other with a scalloped edge with the same image on a more detailed background. Both have the character referred to as “Joe” on the label. The full list of lots featuring Disney items from across the ages can now be found on Hake’s website.