Home » 25 Most Famous Parrots in Movies, Cartoons + Books in History
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25 Most Famous Parrots in Movies, Cartoons + Books in History

(Last Updated On: December 28, 2022)

Considering their popularity as pets, parrots are underrepresented as film, television, and literature characters. Thankfully, these cherished companion birds have appeared on page and screen.

The most famous fictional parrot is Iago, from the Disney animated movie Aladdin. Other parrots in the movies include Blu and Jewel from the Rio franchise and Paulie from the 1998 movie of the same name.

Parrots have played roles in numerous TV shows. Comedy enthusiasts will be familiar with Monty Python’s ‘dead parrot sketch.’ Also, parrots have appeared in numerous children’s cartoons while making effective comedic foil in sitcoms.

Literature is home to possibly the most famous fictional parrot of all, with Captain Flint in Treasure Island popularizing the idea of a pirate parrot. Many children’s books have also featured parrots, including works by Dr. Suess and Eudora Welty.

There are even a handful of famous parrots outside the world of fiction. Winston Churchill and Henry VIII are among prominent historical figures that enjoyed avian companionship, while a dancing cockatoo named Snowball is a modern-day internet sensation.

Famous Parrots in Movies

If you ask, “what is the most famous parrot?” your mind will likely wander to a famous movie you saw as a child. Whether it’s Aladdin’s parrot (Iago) or any other, these birds have made popular appearances in many animated and live-action movies.

Iago (Aladdin)

Is any fictional parrot more beloved and celebrated than Iago, the mischievous red lory from Disney’s animated classic Aladdin? The incarnation of the character voiced by Gilbert Gottfried is firmly ingrained in the fabric of pop culture.

Iago is a veritable treasure trove of memorable moments and quotable lines from his numerous appearances in movies, cartoons, and video games. He’s arguably the most famous parrot of all time.

Blu and Jewel (Rio)

Rio was a 2011 animated movie that revolves around Blu and Jewel, a pair of Spix’s macaws voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, that must escape being smuggled out of Brazil as part of an illegal bird trade.

A sequel followed in 2014 that investigated the fundamental differences between life in the wild and captivity for parrots. Both movies make interesting viewing for youngsters, highlighting serious avian issues among the bright colors and catchy songs.

Mickey’s Parrot

Mickey’s Parrot was a short (seven minutes) animated film, first released in cinemas in 1938. It has since been repeated and re-released numerous times and remains in regular rotation on Disney-centric programming.

This classic animated caper revolves around a talking parrot entering the home of Mickey Mouse and Pluto, scaring them senseless as they mistake him for an escaped killer they heard about on the news.

famous parrots in movies

Polly (Scary Movie 2)

Polly is a foul-mouthed, antagonistic parrot in this comedy sequel, primarily used to make the audience laugh by making inappropriate comments and insulting the human characters throughout the film’s running time.

Paulie

Paulie is a rare case of a live-action movie headlined by a parrot. Released in 1998, Paulie spins the yarn of a talking parrot that goes on a globe-trotting journey, touching the lives of everybody he meets.

Paulie was a box office disappointment upon release, potentially explaining why parrots remain elusive as the leads in children’s movies. Still, its reputation as a feel-good family film has grown over the last two decades.

Captain Celaeno (My Little Pony: The Movie)

The popular 1980s franchise My Little Pony was revitalized in the 2010s with the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This led to the release of a star-studded animated movie in 2017.

Captain Celaeno is the first of many pirate parrots to feature on our list. Voiced by Zoe Saldana, best known for her roles in the Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises, Captain Celaeno is a friendly and compassionate leader of her crew.

Memorable Parrots from TV

More than the movies, parrots have played a role in many TV shows.

Whether appearing as recurring characters or making a big impression with little screen time, parrots captured the imagination on TV screens.

Short Tom (Peter Pan and the Pirates)

Back to the world of children’s animation now, and another famous pirate parrot. Short Tom is perhaps the first time a parrot accompanies Captain Hook of the Peter Pan franchise.

Featuring in all 65 episodes of Peter Pan and the Pirates, which ran from 1990 to 1991, Short Tom is an eyepatch-wearing antagonist with limited speech, so he is misunderstood by Captain Hook and his crew.

Dead Parrot (Monty Python)

The Dead Parrot sketch is possibly the most famous moment in comedy history.

Originally airing in 1969, on the 8th episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it has been repeated and spoofed countless times on stage and screen.

The sketch involves John Cleese’s Mr. Praline presenting a dead Norwegian Blue parrot (parrots don’t hail from Norway, which is part of the joke) to a shopkeeper played by Michael Palin, who continually insists the parrot is alive and well.

The Grand Macaw (Elena of Avalor)

Elena of Avalor was a popular animated series from 2016 to 2019 on the Disney Channel. It revolved around the adventures of Elena, a Latin American teen princess of a fairy tale kingdom.

One of Elena’s most dangerous – but humorous – opponents was The Grand Macaw, who appeared in the series finale played by the gravel-voiced Patrick Warburton.

José Carioca

José Carioca is a sharp-dressing talking parrot designed by the Brazilian artist José Carlos de Brito in 1941. Walt Disney loved the design and brought the character into his animated universe as a friend of Donald Duck.

The animated series Legend of the Three Caballeros features José Carioca in a leading role. At the same time, the parrot is also regularly featured in cartoons and comics, especially in his native Brazil.

Eric (The Muppet Show)

Eric is a parrot that appears sporadically throughout The Muppet Show. He’s never named on-screen and typically has a villainous and antagonistic nature, occasionally disguising himself as another bird to manipulate the heroic Muppets.

Mr. Dinsdale (Bewitched)

The classic sitcom Bewitched often featured characters turned into animals by the leading character Samantha or her antagonist mother, Endora. Perhaps the most famous example was Mr. Dinsdale in the 1970 episode A Chance on Love.

A client of Samantha that attempted to win her favor by repeating everything she said, Samantha used her magic to turn Mr. Dinsdale into a parrot. Naturally, he was returned to his human state – having learned a lesson – by the closing credits.

Baby (Frasier)

Animals played a major role in the celebrated sitcom Frasier, with Mushroom, the canine actor that played Eddie the Dog, receiving more fan mail than any of the human cast. A parrot named Baby appeared in one classic installment, To Kill a Talking Bird.

Baby was a cockatoo adopted by a lonely and despairing Niles, who sought companionship from his bird, only for the feathered guest star to attach itself to Niles’ head and refuse to move during a dinner party.

Sadly, Baby was never seen again after this amusing episode.

Celebrated Parrots in Literature

Books, especially children’s literature, have frequently used parrot characters. While many movies with parrots were adapted from novels, here are some examples of literature that featured parrots:

Captain Flint (Treasure Island)

If Iago is the most famous parrot in the movies, Captain Flint is the most iconic bird in literature.

Caption Flint perches on the shoulder of the infamous pirate Long John Silver in Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure classic Treasure Island.

Claimed to be 200 years old by Silver, Captain Flint only utters a handful of phrases in the novel, but they have become firmly associated with parrots.

Sentences like “pieces of eight” are linked to parrots, thanks to Captain Flint.

Poll (Robinson Crusoe)

Daniel Defoe’s famous 18th Century castaway befriends a small parrot named Poll as part of his life on an abandoned island. Poll doesn’t speak but offers Crusoe the essential comfort of companionship while he is shipwrecked and alone.

Captain Clawbeak

Captain Clawbeak is another pirate parrot in literature, albeit less renowned than Captain Flint. This character is at the center of a series of children’s books for beginner readers by Australian author Anne Morgan, all of which are illustrated by Wayne Harris.

Arturo (The Shoe Bird)

Eudora Welty was the first living author to have her work published by the Library of America.

Her 1964 children’s book The Shoe Bird, in which a parrot living in a shoe store talks to customers, is not among her most celebrated but merits acknowledgment.

Hooey (Dr. Seuss)

Hooey, the parrot, appears at the beginning of Dr. Suess’ Oh Say Can You Say, introducing the zany stories set to follow and warning that they are all ‘phooey.’

Gerard (Next by Michael Crichton)

Best known for writing Jurassic Park, the late Michael Crichton penned countless other technology-centric thrillers in his lifetime. Next was the last book published before the author’s death in 2018 and features a parrot in a prominent role.

The parrot in question is Gerard, an African grey genetically engineered to enjoy hyper-intelligence. In the novel, Gerard is passed between numerous owners frequently because his intelligence lands him in trouble with unscrupulous humans.

Strongbeak (Beak of the Moon)

Beak of the Moon is a children’s novel by Philip Temple, a writer born in England but resident in New Zealand. The novel follows the adventures of Strongbeak, a kea parrot driven to embark on a memorable adventure.

Beak of the Moon quickly became a bestseller and was followed by a sequel, Dark of the Moon. Both books raise awareness of endangered parrot species in New Zealand, making them essential reading for avian enthusiasts.

Famous Parrots in History

Not all memorable parrots are fictional. Parrots have been popular pets for many years among a wide array of different people. Here are some names of famous parrots:

Flaubert’s Parrot

The French novelist Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary and widely considered among the most influential European writers of the 19th Century, kept a stuffed parrot on his desk while writing the anthology novel Trois Contes.

This parrot has become a source of fascination in France, with multiple museums claiming to possess the stuffed parrot. It’s uncertain which entity claims the genuine bird, with as many as 50 possibilities on record.

what is the most famous parrot?

Charlie the Curser

Charlie was a macaw that allegedly lived with Winston Churchill throughout the second world war, remaining a beloved pet until the politician died in 1965. Charlie lived with new owners for many years after Churchill’s passing.

The name “Charlie the Curser” comes from the legend that Churchill taught the bird numerous profane words and insults directed at Adolf Hitler, which Charlie continued to use in front of its new owners.

Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo

Everybody loves a funny animal video on the internet, and Snowball has become a bona fide online celebrity. Watch Snowball dancing to the Backstreet Boys, which is the first case of an animal synchronizing body movement to musical beats.

Henry VIII’s Parrot

The infamous English monarch Henry VIII is believed to have kept an African grey parrot as a pet. Unfortunately, the bird’s name is not a matter of historical record, but stories of his mischievous escapades have entered lore.

It is claimed that the parrot lived in Hampton Court Palace. The parrot imitated orders given to the royal watermen to amuse itself, forcing these employees to immediately cross the River Thames expecting a summons from the monarch.

Alex

The final parrot on our list is simply known as Alex and is the subject of the book Alex and Me by Irene M. Pepperberg. Alex was an African grey that was inseparable from its owner for three decades.

Alex entered history as he demonstrated the intense intelligence of parrots, forming a vast vocabulary and speaking in complex sentences – including his final words, “I love you, be good.”

As per Biological Theory, Alex is still held up as a landmark test case in animal cognition, and arguably, the popularity of Pepperberg’s book dealing with their relationship sowed seeds for the popularity of pet parrots today.