Role in the comics
Gladstone's luck defies probability and provides him with anything he desires, with hardly the need of effort. As Disney comics writer Don Rosa has commented on the character:
|“||Gladstone is unwilling to make the slightest effort to gain something that his luck cannot give him, and, when things go wrong, he resigns immediately, certain that around the next corner a wallet, dropped by a passer-by, will be waiting for him.||”|
For all his ridiculous amount luck Gladstone has no achievements to be proud of, is very lazy, and has no true ambitions or calling in life, as he is incapable of long-term planning. All of this is in stark contrast to his relative Scrooge McDuck, who is also capable of taking advantage of opportunities but works hard to create situations favorable for him, is strongly motivated by his ambitions and takes huge pride in forming his fortune by his own efforts.
He is a rival of Donald for the love of Donald's girlfriend Daisy Duck. Gladstone is also considered among the prime candidates for becoming Scrooge McDuck's successor. For all of these reasons, he and Donald have formed an intense rivalry with each other. Gladstone's arrogance and outrageous luck, combined with Donald's own ego and belief he can still best him despite all odds—or as Don Rosa's version of Scrooge comments, "Donald's eternal tendency towards self-destruction" have set the stage for many stories featuring the two cousins' confrontations.
Barks gradually developed Gladstone's personality and at first used him frequently—in 24 stories between 1948 and 1953, the first five years of his existence. Gladstone's luck evolved slowly. In his first three appearances in 1948 (Wintertime Wager, Gladstone Returns, Links Hijinks), he was portrayed as the mirror image of Donald: an obstinate braggart, perhaps just a little bit more arrogant. In his next two appearances, Rival Beachcombers and The Goldilocks Gambit, Gladstone is portrayed as merely lazy and irritable, and also gullible. The breakthrough of his lucky streak occurs in December 1949, and the long adventure story Luck of the North. His and Donald's rivalry over Daisy is established in Donald's Love Letters (1949), Wild About Flowers (1950), and Knightly Rivals (1951), and as potential heirs to Scrooge's fortune in Some Heir Over the Rainbow (1953). After that, Barks felt unable to develop the character further, finding him basically unsympathetic, and began using him less frequently. But by then, Gladstone had already found a steady place in the Duck universe. He was first used by a different Duck comic artist in 1951's: Presents For All, by Del Connell and Bob Moore.
His exact relation to the Duck Family Tree is somewhat uncertain. In Carl Barks' original version of the family tree from the 1950s, Gladstone was the son of Luke the Goose and Daphne Duck, who died from overeating at a free-lunch picnic. He was later adopted by Matilda McDuck and Goosetave Gander. When Barks made his 1990s Duck family tree, he didn't use the adoption story, which was never featured in any story (even though no stories denying the event were published either). In a more recent version of the family tree created by Don Rosa, Daphne Duck (Donald's paternal aunt) married Goosetave Gander and the two were Gladstone's parents. As well as Barks earlier family trees, this is consistent with what Gladstone says in Race to the South Seas: "Scrooge McDuck is my mother's brother's brother-in-law". In The Sign of the Triple Distelfink (first published on February 4, 1997), Don Rosa added that Gladstone was born on Daphne's birthday, who was born under the protection sign of the Triple Distelfink, thus inheriting his mother's luck.
Appearances in other media
Outside of comics, Gladstone appeared in several episodes of DuckTales, where he was voiced by Rob Paulsen. In the episode "Dime Enough for Luck", Gladstone is an unwitting stooge for Magica De Spell in one of her attempts to steal Scrooge's Number One Dime, in which he is more sympathetic than his comic counterpart. He returns in the episode "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. McDuck", where he accidentally bids on an item that turns out to be valuable. This inspires Scrooge to bid on the next item—a trunk containing Dr. Jekyll's formula—which sets the plot in motion. He also makes non-speaking cameo appearances in the episodes "Sweet Duck of Youth" and "Till Nephews Do Us Part".
Although he didn't appear in Mickey Mouse Works, his name was mentioned on a punch card in "Donald's Rocket Ruckus". However, he made a cameo appearance in the House of Mouse episode "Goofy for a Day", in the Penguin Waiters advertisement.
Gladstone also appears in the video game Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers! in his traditional role as Donald's rival for Daisy's affections, in this, they both compete to rescue Daisy from Merlock. In this game, he was voiced by Corey Burton.
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