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The Ugly Duckling is an animated short film produced by Walt Disney and the 75th and final entry in the Silly Symphonies series. The film is based on the fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Andersen where a duckling is harassed and persecuted because of his homeliness but eventually matures into a swan, the most beautiful bird of all.
Walt Disney had earlier produced a black-and-white Silly Symphony episode under the same title in 1931, but with several key differences. For example: the Ugly Duckling in the 1931 version is actually a duck who is hatched by a chicken. The color film, produced in 1939, more closely follows the original story and won the 1939 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject. In this version, the baby swan's suffering is shortened, as he is found and taken in by the Swans after only a day of rejection and ostracism rather than a whole year.
The Ugly Duckling was Disney's last Silly Symphony short and the only one to be a remake of an earlier episode.
A remake of an earlier Silly Symphony retells the story of an outcast duckling whose search for a family to accept him leads to constant rejection before learning his true identity as a swan.
Like many Disney productions, The Ugly Duckling has been adapted several times into children's books; some of which were published directly by Disney and others in association with non-affiliated companies like Little Golden Books. The initial success of the film also inspired a short lived newspaper strip in 1939 as well as occasionally being featured in various Disney comic book serials.
- Disneyland, episode #1.19: "From Aesop to Hans Christian Andersen"
- The Mouse Factory, episode #1.3: "Folk Tale Favorites"
- The New Mickey Mouse Club, episode #2.46
- Good Morning, Mickey, episode #77
- Donald Duck Presents, episode #7
- Jiminy Cricket, Storyteller
- Mickey's Mouse Tracks, episode #19
- The Ink and Paint Club, episode #1.36: "Award Winners II"
- The Ink and Paint Club, episode #1.49: "More Storybook Silly Symphonies"
- Walt Disney Cartoon Classics: Disney's Best - 1931-1948
- Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies
- Walt Disney's Timeless Tales: Volume 2
- Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films: Volume 5: The Wind in the Willows
Although not as prominent as some of Disney's other films, a substantial amount of merchandise tied in to the The Ugly Duckling has been produced; mostly decorative pins sold as part of a limited collector's set