Zé Carioca is one of the best known Brazilian animated characters. Created by Disney in 1943, Zé Carioca is a friend of Donald Duck, and both starred in the film “Saludos Amigos” that year. He’s a dapper parrot from Rio de Janeiro who shows Donald Duck around the city. Zé Carioca also appeared in the 1944 “The Three Caballeros” Disney movie, as well as a comic strip in the 1940s and a TV special in the 1960s. Zé Carioca is even featured on a ride at Walt Disney World.
The character was originally created as a part of the U.S. government’s “Good Neighbor” policy during World War II, when the U.S. made an effort to gain support from Latin American countries. An interesting thing to note, however, is that while he’s supposed to be from Rio, the character doesn’t speak with a Carioca accent, and the man who inspired him was a Paulista.
Zé’s character is supposed to be emblematic of the malandro figure of Brazilian lore, one who takes advantage of situations for his own benefit and one who employs the jeitinho.
Take a look at one of Zé Carioca’s most famous scenes!