Professor Ludwig von Drake is one of Walt Disney's cartoon and comic book characters. He was first introduced on September 24, 1961, as the presenter (and singer of "The Spectrum Song") in the cartoon An Adventure in Color, part of the first show of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color on NBC. Said to be an uncle of Donald Duck, he was supposedly named after either Ludwig von Mises or Ludwig van Beethoven. He is described as a scientist, lecturer, psychologist, and road traveler. The character displayed his "expert" knowledge on a variety of subjects in eighteen episodes of the classic anthology series, as well as on a number of Disneyland Records.
Ludwig von Drake comes from Vienna, Austria. Some creators have presumed that his family is a German branch of the Duck family that hasn't been included in any major stories. In the comic strips by the famous Disney cartoonist Al Taliaferro, Donald and his nephews usually call him 'Uncle Ludwig', so it would be undeniable they are relatives. According to a theory by Don Rosa the professor married Matilda McDuck, one of Scrooge McDuck's sisters - his other sister is Donald's mother Hortense McDuck. Though this is by no means canon, it might be the only way that Ludwig could be Donald's uncle, since it apparently seems impossible that Ludwig is Donald's uncle on father's side. On the other hand, in at least one TV cartoon he is described as being a bachelor. His father is called Quackmore Duck, son of Humperdink Duck and Grandma Duck (her real name is Elvira Coot, according to Don Rosa). In some comic stories where Ludwig visits Grandma on her farm it's clear that they have a close relationship, even so it would be rash to affirm that they are close relatives. Anyway, a theory where Humperdink Duck and Ludwig von Drake would be half brothers on mother's side cannot be discarded, since nothing relevant about Humperdink's life before having a family with Grandma has been revealed in the comics with the Duck Family until today. In this case, Ludwig would be granduncle of Donald, of course. There is an enlightening sequence of two panels in the story "The Rural Eggs-pert", where Ludwig is sat in an old chair of Grandma's house when an antique buyer asks Grandma to sell him "this fine old specimen" (the chair) and she answers, "Well, it's been in the family for years, but I could do without it!", what makes Ludwig astonished, since he thinks she's referring to him. It may also be possible that he's Donald's uncle because there would be between them a fictive kinship, something that would also explain why Gladstone Gander and Fethry Duck consider Scrooge as their uncle, since those ones and Scrooge aren't relatives indeed, according to Don Rosa's Duck/McDuck/Coot Family Tree, however you can assume that Scrooge would have become a close friend of the Duck Family, specially after the marriage of Quackmore Duck and Hortense McDuck.
Ludwig has a fascination with knowledge. Since his youth he has been trying to obtain as many diplomas, in any science, as possible. He is often shown as having little social competence, however, and is often portrayed as being very forgetful, sometimes even somewhat senile. In the comics Ludwig usually visits with Donald Duck and Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. On occasion, Daisy Duck would coax (or even trick) the professor into giving lectures and tours for her ladies' club. Sometimes Ludwig and Gyro Gearloose have competed as to who is the greater inventor.
Wonderful World of Color appearances (1960s)Edit
Professor Ludwig Von Drake was introduced as a new character along side Walt Disney himself in the very first episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color after the series was moved to NBC in the fall of 1961. He was designed, and frequently animated, by Milt Kahl, one of Disney's Nine Old Men of animators.
- An Adventure in Color (24 September 1961) - This show introduced Walt Disney's new character and co-host Professor Ludwig Von Drake.
- The Hunting Instinct (22 October 1961) - Drake sheds some light on the subject of why man hunts with has brought his assistant Herman the Bootle Beetle.
- Inside Donald Duck (5 November 1961) - Drake attempts to diagnose Donald Duck's problems, deciding the cause is romance.
- Kids is Kids (10 December 1961) - Drake shares his knowledge on the subject of child psychology and how to handle Huey, Dewey and Louie.
- Carnival Time (4 March 1962) - Drake takes a look at some major carnivals in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro with Donald Duck and Jose Carioca.
- Von Drake in Spain (8 April 1962)
- Man is His Own Worst Enemy (21 October 1962) - Drake explains on why people are the biggest challenge facing humanity. This episode is sometimes titled Ducking Disaster with Donald and his Friends.
- A Symposium on Popular Songs (19 December 1962) - Drake demonstrates examples of popular music through the years.
- Three Tall Tales (6 January 1963) - Drake and his sidekick Herman tell three stories including "Casey At The Bat" and "Paul Bunyan."
- A Square Peg in a Round Hole (3 March 1963) - Drake has founded the Research Institute For Human Behavior.
- Fly With Von Drake (13 October 1963) - Drake gives a historically accurate and funny lecture on the birth of manned flight.
- The Truth About Mother Goose (17 November 1963) - Drake tells the stories behind Mother Goose rhymes.
- Mickey and the Beanstalk (1963)
- In Shape with Von Drake (22 March 1964) - Drake returns to explain sports and fitness. He illustrates his points through the use of several Goofy cartoons.
- Mediterannean Cruise (1964)
- A Rag, A Bone, A Box of Junk (1964)
- Music for Everybody (30 January 1966) - Drake hosts this look at the importance of music in people's lives.
- A Salute to Alaska (1967)
Inside Donald DuckEdit
Among his many interests is psychology, and he has tried to make a psychological study of his nephew Donald Duck. Ludwig was best fleshed out in this anthology cartoon, where Donald's psychology was examined, as we got to see some of his worst temper tantrums. Ludwig however was well understood by the end of the cartoon. His Germanic ancestry betrayed itself in his language - for example "as we say in the psychiatry" is a very German Anglicanism. In comics translated into German he sometimes speaks with an Austrian accent, like "ein bisserl" instead of "ein bisschen". He also enjoys several off color jokes, for instance "What you have here is a depressed Duck! And there is nothing worse than depressed duck...unless you like depressed duck...but the taste is sometimes...." clearly making a pun off of the dish of pressed duck.
Cartoon appearances (1980s-present)Edit
Von Drake has appeared on several Disney animated cartoon series: DuckTales, Raw Toonage, Bonkers, Mickey Mouse Works, Quack Pack, House of Mouse, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and in numerous television specials. In all of these, Von Drake wears a pink shirt, black tie, red vest, and a lab coat. In the 1963 version of Mickey and the Beanstalk (originally as the segment featured on Fun and Fancy Free), it is revealed that Ludwig Von Drake has a Bootle Beetle companion named Herman.
In Disney's House of Mouse, Von Drake appears as a recurring character. In "Ask Von Drake", Mickey tries to prove that Ludwig Von Drake doesn't know everything. At the end, Mickey convinces him that during the headcount of all the Disney characters, he forgot himself. Also, in "House of Genius", Ludwig creates robot duplicates of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto. At the end, when Ludwig brings in a robot duplicate of himself, Mickey tells the robot to send the real Ludwig packing.
Ludwig von Drake in the Sing-Along Songs seriesEdit
In the Disney's Sing-Along Songs series of videos, he has hosted these six volumes:
- You Can Fly (February 5, 1988)
- Fun With Music (along with Professor Owl) (October 12, 1989)
- Under the Sea (August 14, 1990)
- I Love to Laugh (a.k.a. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) (December 28, 1990)
- 101 Notes of Fun (March 12, 1994)
- Colors of the Wind (July 21, 1995)
Disneyland Records DiscographyEdit
In 1961 Disneyland Records released the LP "Professor Ludwig von Drake". The LP had songs from the Disneyland T.V. Series ("The Green With Envy Blues" and "The Spectrum Song") as well as new songs, and comedy bits.
The track list for the "Ludwig von Drake" LP
1. I'm Ludwig von Drake 2. The Spectrum Song 3. The Green With Envy Blues 4. It Gets You 5. von Drake Variations on "The Blue Danube" 6. Professor Ludwig von Drake Discourse: All About Sound Recording 7. An Operatic Version of a Theme from 'Cinderella'
As of February, 2010, the digitally remastered LP can be downloaded exclusively at the iTunes Store.
The Disney studio encouraged the writers of Duck comics to introduce this new character in print, and already in September 1961, Von Drake started appearing in Al Taliaferro and Bob Karp's featured daily strips. However, aside from a solitary cameo appearance in a one page story in Uncle Scrooge #54 (December 1964), the character was not used by leading Disney duck artist Carl Barks.
In 1961, Dell Comics launched a comic book series starring von Drake and illustrated by Tony Strobl, but it only lasted for four issues before being discontinued. The character made subsequent appearances in other comic titles such as Walt Disney's Comics and Stories and in the Donald Duck newspaper strip.
In the story "Duckburg, U.S.A.", published in Ludwig von Drake #1 (Nov. 1961), he arrives in Duckburg by train, and it is said that the Ducks had never seen this relative before. Don Rosa probably ignored this Tony Strobl story when he created the theory that Ludwig would be Donald's uncle because he would be or would have been married to his aunt on mother's side Matilda.
Professor Ludwig has often been used by Italian cartoonists, including in some of the long sagas inspired by famous books that they usually produce with the Duck Family, and, as a result, he has achieved a quite significant popularity in Italy.
|Mickey and Friends|
|The Sensational Six|
|Mickey Mouse | Minnie Mouse | Donald Duck | Daisy Duck | Goofy | Pluto|
|Chip 'n' Dale | Clarabelle Cow | Horace Horsecollar | Clara Cluck | Huey, Dewey, and Louie | Scrooge McDuck | Ludwig Von Drake | José Carioca | Panchito Pistoles | Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse | Max Goof | Figaro | Humphrey the Bear | J. Audubon Woodlore | Yen Sid | Gus Goose | Salty the Seal | Ronnie | Milton | Oswald the Lucky Rabbit | Ortensia | Duffy the Disney Bear | ShellieMay the Disney Bear|
|Peg Leg Pete | Mortimer Mouse | Butch the Bulldog | Phantom Blot | Beagle Boys | The Lonesome Ghosts | Aracuan Bird | Willie the Giant | Magic Brooms|
Heroes and Allies: Scrooge McDuck | Huey, Dewey, and Louie | Launchpad McQuack | Gyro Gearloose | Webby Vanderquack | Bentina Beakley | Duckworth | Doofus Drake | Bubba the Caveduck | Tootsie the Triceratops | Fenton Crackshell | Donald Duck
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