José Carioca (pronounced Djoh-zay Cah-ree-oh-cah) is a Disney cartoon character drawn as an anthropomorphized parrot from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (thus "Carioca", a term which refers to a person born there). José was created in 1943 for the movie Saludos Amigos as a friend of Donald Duck, described by Time as "a dapper Brazilian parrot, who is as superior to Donald Duck as the Duck was to Mickey Mouse". He returned in the 1944 film The Three Caballeros along with Donald and a Mexican rooster named Panchito Pistoles.
From 1942 to 1945 there was a comic strip starring José Carioca. José appears with Donald and the Aracuan Bird in the "Blame It on the Samba" segment of the 1948 anthology feature Melody Time. He also has a brief cameo as a member of the jury during the trial sequence of the 1951 Disney feature Alice in Wonderland.
José is quite popular in Brazil, appearing alongside Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in the local Disney Comics. In Brazil he's known as Zé Carioca ("Zé" being a familiar form for Portuguese name "José", as "Joe" is a familiar form for the English name "Joseph"). He currently appears at least every two weeks in his own Brazilian comic books, in which he is portrayed as living with his friends Nestor (a humanized crow) and Pedro (Portuguese: Pedrão, a humanized dog), along with other characters: his nephews Zico and Zeca (also parrots), his girlfriend Maria Vaz (Portuguese: Rosinha Vaz, a humanized parrot), daughter of rich entrepreneur Rocha Vaz; and his rival Zé Galo (no English name as of 2010; a humanized rooster).
Comics featuring Joe Carioca, as he is called in the Netherlands, appear occasionally in the Dutch Donald Duck magazine. In these short stories, José occupies his time assuming false identities to impress girls (who usually see through him, leaving him brokenhearted), and wangling free dinners in expensive restaurants, a habit that often gets him into trouble.
Zé Carioca was inspired by an illustration of the Brazilian comic artist J. Carlos, who had a telling illustration of a parrot Walt Disney in his visit to Brazil, Carlos was invited by Disney to draw in their studio, but he declined.
In the Brazilian comics, Zé is also part of his neighborhood soccer team (or acts as a referee) and has a superheroic secret identity, Morcego Verde (Green Bat, a Batman spoof), although he is easily and often recognized, even by his neighbors.
In recent years, José Carioca has been used alongside Panchito and Donald in two comics by American artist Don Rosa.
The creation of a Brazilian animated character during the Second World War was part of a strategy called "Good Neighbor Policy" headed by the United States government to improve relations and gather support amongst its neighbor countries.
In April 2007, Disney re-introduced José Carioca (along with the third Caballero, Panchito), in the newly-revamped ride at Epcot's Mexico Pavilion with entirely new animation and a new storyline. It has been dubbed "The Gran Fiesta Tour". After being reunited, The Three Caballeros are set to play a show in Mexico City. But Donald goes missing. José and Panchito must search throughout Mexico for Donald as he takes in various sights around Mexico. The animation was apparently directed by Eric Goldberg. He is now voiced by Rob Paulsen.
José can also be seen in the Hong Kong Disneyland version of It's a Small World, which opened on April 28, 2008, as well as the Disneyland (in California) version of It's a Small World, installed during major refurbishments between January and November 2008.
José and Panchito's costumes were extinct at the Disneyland Resort by 2011, but were re-Imagineered for Mickey's Soundsational Parade in May 2011. They now appear with Donald Duck and dancers with a float where Donald is trying to hit a Pinata.