Throughout the Hollywood streets of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Imagineers have included a wide variety of details that works together transport guests to the time of Tinsletown’s Golden Age. One of these details is the use of billboards featuring vintage or vintage-inspired artwork on the roof of several of the area’s buildings. There’s even a billboard located above “Mickey’s of Hollywood” advertising a classic Donald Duck cartoon: “The Autograph Hound.”
During the 1930’s, the public’s fascination with Hollywood celebrities resulted in a trend in cartoon shorts built around caricatured representations of movie stars. While Disney may not have produced as many such films as rival studios such as Warner Bros. did, they were certainly no strangers to the genre either. In fact, the studio had already produced several cartoons centered around celebrity caricatures including “Mickey’s Gala Premier,” “Mickey’s Polo Team,” and the Silly Symphony “Mother Goose Goes Hollywood” by the time “The Autograph Hound” was released in 1939.
The plot of “The Autograph Hound” has Donald Duck sneaking onto a movie studio in order to fill his autograph book, but is constantly having to hide from a security guard intent on throwing the him off the lot. The artwork featured on billboard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is taken from the shorts original movie poster, and depicts a few of the celebrities Donald encounters in the film. From left to right, ice skater Sonja Henie, Katharine Hepburn, singer/comedian Martha Raye, Greta Garbo, and child star Shirley Temple can be seen peeking out from behind the guard trying to keep the Donald out.
While not all of these movie stars have remained household names to this day, the short does act a bit as a time capsule of Hollywood and film history. One celebrity whose star hasn’t faded since 1939, though, is Donald Duck himself. As the short ends, the tables are turned on Donald when he gets recognized for who he is and is immediately mobbed by movie stars and even the security guard who now all want his autograph, not unlike the many young autograph hounds who stand in line to present their autograph books to Donald every day at Walt Disney World.