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October 4, 2004
Oregon's (Donald) Duck
An interesting story about a Disney character's use as a university mascot (Donald endures in hearts of Duck fans). It was a simpler time:
The university has had a web-footed mascot since at least the 1920s, when a live duck named Puddles surfaced at football and basketball games. A duck emblem was in use by 1933, and by 1936 it was starting to look more like Donald, catching the attention of Disney officials.
In 1947, Oregon Athletic Director Leo Harris shook hands with Walt Disney himself on an agreement to allow Oregon to use Donald as the mascot. The deal was put in writing in 1974 in a licensing agreement giving the university limited use of Donald at athletic venues.
Wow. A good-natured handshake agreement for almost thirty years.
Of course, such things could not be allowed to continue:
In 1991, the agreement was expanded to allow wider use of the likeness on sweatshirts, glassware and other merchandise.
The frenzied "charging duck" pumping his fists inside a large, eight-sided letter 'O' was a ubiquitous campus logo for years. It was eventually replaced as the UO marketing machine grew and felt confined by Disney's restrictive contract, which forbids the school from selling items with the Donald Duck logo beyond the Oregon border.
Although Donald is much beloved by Oregon fans, a stylized "O" will have to do for out-of-staters.
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