- “Hello, 'dere'! Professor Ludwig Von Drake here. Certified scientist, and all-around expert on brilliant things!”
- ―Ludwig Von Drake
Professor Ludwig Von Drake is an anthropomorphic duck created by Walt Disney. An uncle of Donald Duck, he is portrayed as a brilliant, yet eccentric lecturer and scientist, who frequenty displays his vast array of "expert" knowledge on a variety of subjects.
Ludwig debuted as a presenter in An Adventure in Color, part of the first episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color on NBC, making him the first Disney animated character created specifically for television. He would become a recurring member of the Mickey and Friends franchise in later years.
Ludwig Von Drake comes from Vienna, Austria. Some creators have presumed that his family is a German branch of the Duck family, but that hasn't been included in any major stories. Daisy Duck refers to Ludwig as 'sort of an uncle' of Donald in the first Sunday strip where his name is mentioned. In some early American comics featuring Ludwig, such as Barn Dance Doctor (1961), he was said to be Grandma Duck's cousin.
According to a suggestion by Disney comics artist and writer Don Rosa, the professor married Matilda McDuck, one of Scrooge McDuck's sisters. However, in the Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color episode Kids is Kids, Ludwig says that he is a bachelor.
Ludwig has a fascination with knowledge. Since his youth, he has been trying to obtain as many diplomas as possible. In one of his earliest printed appearances in a Donald Duck daily newspaper comic strip (written by Bob Karp and drawn by Al Taliaferro), Ludwig claims that he has obtained "about 98 degrees" in total. 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 his relatives Donald Duck and 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 to see who is the greater inventor.
In spite of being a world-renowned scientist, psychiatrist and lecturer, Ludwig is incredibly wacky, somewhat bumbling and, as he puts it, "Kooky!". He is known for being extremely intelligent and more than likely to know nearly everything about a certain topic ranging from science to music. During many of his classic lectures, Ludwig was known to get sidetracked rather quickly, with the end results being comical shenanigans. Most of the professor's time is spent creating an array of magnificent inventions meant to make life easier for both himself and the rest of the world. However, more often than not, does one of the professor's inventions go off the deep end. He also has a habit of having every invention's naming beginning with "The Von Drake" heading. A notable recurring goal for the professor has been to discover the source of his nephew Donald's temper tantrums. His catchphrase is "Hello there!", which he has been known to shout when greeting someone or at the beginning of one of his cartoons.
Ludwig Von Drake was introduced in 1961, with the introduction to Walt Disney's television series Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. From there, he became a recurring character in Disney's related television projects, usually lecturing on a certain topic. He was originally designed and animated by legendary animators Milt Kahl and Ward Kimball. In total, Von Drake would appear in sixteen episodes of the anthology series, spanning from "An Adventure in Color/Mathmagicland" in 1961, to "A Salute to Alaska" in 1967. The latter episode was also the last to feature Walt Disney as the host, who died months prior. On December 19, 1962, Von Drake starred in a theatrical featurette titled "A Symposium on Popular Songs, which focused on Von Drake lecturing about music of bygone and contemporary decades, and notably received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film.
After Ludwig's conclusion from the anthology series, the character would appear randomly in various spots, such as the host of the Disney's Sing-Along Songs series of videos, beginning with You Can Fly in 1988. Von Drake would later appear as the host of the following volumes: Fun With Music (a.k.a 101 Notes of Fun), Under the Sea, I Love to Laugh, and the final being Colors of the Wind, released in 1995.
Von Drake made a comeback with the premiere of the Disney Afternoon television block, making appearances in several of its programs (now voiced by Corey Burton), the first being the acclaimed series Ducktales, where he made a guest appearance. In the late 1990's and early 2000's, Ludwig was reincorporated as a major Disney character by being featured as a regular member of the Mickey and Friends franchise, starting with the Mickey Mouse Works series in 1999. From there, he would often appear in TV shows and video games centered on Mickey Mouse and his friends. He typically takes the role of the bumbling scientist whose inventions comically cause mayhem.
Walt Disney entered into television production as early as 1950. By 1954, he had his own weekly anthology TV series, called Disneyland, on ABC. In 1961, after a disagreement, Disney changed his loyalties to NBC and added color to the mix and renamed the show Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. In order to introduce this new feature, his company also created the brainy Austrian scientist Ludwig Von Drake. Von Drake became a very popular recurring character and appeared many times hosting the weekly show. In some instances, he would even interact with Walt Disney. In "An Adventure in Color/Mathmagicland", Walt introduced Ludwig as his "old friend and long-time associate" (despite needing a card to remember his name).
Several episodes were fairly significant to Ludwig's character. In "The Hunting Instinct", he was given a companion, Herman the Bootle Beetle, who would become a recurring sidekick to Von Drake; the latter refers to Herman as his best friend. In "Inside Donald Duck" (the first episode to showcase Von Drake interacting with his nephew) Ludwig tries to psychoanalyze Donald's problems with various different tactics. In "Kids is Kids", he once again looks to Donald for psychiatric research, focusing on his familial relationship with Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Von Drake's grandmother was also introduced in "The Truth About Mother Goose".
In one episode, Von Drake appeared as the host of the Mickey and the Beanstalk short (originally a segment part of the Fun and Fancy Free animated compilation). He and Herman replaced the film's original narrators, Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy, respectively.
Von Drake made a guest appearance on DuckTales as Launchpad McQuack's psychiatrist, in the episode "The Golden Fleecing." In the episode, Launchpad claims to have experienced an encounter involving a band of harpies, visiting the professor to speak of the traumatizing matter. However, Ludwig scoffs the entire situation as a mere dream, but in the end, Launchpad returns with a lovesick harpie as proof, resulting in a nervous breakdown between himself and an astonished Professor Von Drake.
Von Drake reprised his psychiatrist role in several guest appearances on Bonkers, appearing mostly in the episodes produced by Duane Capizzi and Robert Hathcock.
He plays a key role in several episodes. In "Do Toons Dream of Animated Sheep?," he assisted Bonkers in finding out the cause of his missing dreams. In "The Toon That Ate Hollywood," Von Drake created an invention capable of increasing a toon's humor levels, considerably groundbreaking for the toon world. However, the invention is eventually stolen by two villainous clowns. In "Bobcat Fever," Von Drake teams up with Bonker's partner, Miranda, in stopping a toon microbe from infecting Bonker's brain. In "When the Spirits Move," ghosts begin haunting the police station, resulting in Von Drake concocting a way to bust them. In "Toon For a Day," Sergeant Grating believes he is a toon after getting hit in the head, resulting in the professor coming into the scene to solve the problem psychiatrically.
In Quack Pack, Von Drake resides in a laboratory in Duckburg and also runs a pizza delivery service which pays for his science equipment. In "The Really Mighty Ducks", Huey, Dewey and Louie visit Von Drake after Donald ordered them to clean their room. While there, they notice one of Von Drake's inventions and offers to test it. Ludwig allows them to do so and the machine gives them super abilities. Huey gains super speed, Dewey gains incredible knowledge and Louie gains super strength. Ludwig is also called for by the President during global crises and after the boys received their powers, they use them to fight crime. Later in the episode, Donald also uses the machine to become a super villain.
In this series, Von Drake was given his own short series entitled "Von Drake's House of Genius" where he creates a new invention meant to make life easier, but the creations backfire and often get destroyed in the end. He did, however, star in three regular cartoons--one being "Relaxing with Von Drake," where the professor attempts to ease Donald Duck's nerves. In "Hydro-Squirter," Von Drake accidentally creates a teleportation bathtub. In "Futurmania," the professor's latest invention is tested on Mickey, Donald and Goofy.
Von Drake also made appearances in other characters' cartoons, most notably "Mickey Foils the Phantom Blot," where the professor asks Mickey, Donald and Goofy to deliver his very valuable credit card to him in a different location at another time. The reason being that the professor is being hunted down by a criminal mastermind, The Phantom Blot. He also made a small cameo in "Locksmiths."
In the series, Ludwig's mother, who could be heard by voice only, was introduced. Later, her voice (provided by April Winchell) was heard again in House of Mouse.
Ludwig is a recurring character in this series as a "nutty professor"-type character.
He had roles in a few episodes where he was the main focus. The most notable of these was "Ask Von Drake". Here, Mickey tires of Von Drake knowing absolutely everything and challenges the professor throughout the entire evening. In the end, Mickey thinks of one last challenge: name every guest member at the club. Von Drake seemingly goes through the headcount of all the Disney characters with ease (in song) but afterwards, Mickey points out that he forgot one person - himself.
In other episodes, the professor was often called upon to help solve some of the problems in the club. In "Super Goof", Von Drake was called to determine where an oncoming meteor will strike. In "House of Crime", when all the guests go missing, Von Drake creates a device to lead the heroes to the culprit. Unbeknownst to them, the culprit was The Phantom Blot and he and the missing guests were inside Von Drake's machine. In "Dining Goofy", when Goofy gave the guests their wrong meals, Von Drake invented automated touch-screen computers for them to order food. 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.
Von Drake also appeared in the film Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse, where he went on stage to lecture about The Science of Santa. This scene was later reused in the episode "Pete's Christmas Caper".
Here, Von Drake is a recurring character and the creator of the clubhouse. He created the clubhouse as a gift for Mickey equipping it with various accessories that make life much easier, including the Handy Helpers and Toodles. Ludwig often creates new inventions that go wrong accidentally.
Like his previous appearances, many of his inventions cause trouble such as when Donald drank his potion and transformed into a frog or when magical goo he created multiplied Goofy. Despite this, a number of inventions saved the day such as the time when the color was being drained from the world and he used a device to get it back. He is the most intelligent of the group and most problem solving are due to his ideas and innovations.
Ludwig returns in the Mickey Mouse animated series, first appearing in the episode "Down the Hatch" as a museum scientist and tour guide introducing various scientific marvels. These include a shrink ray, which falls into the hands of Mickey and Goofy, resulting in an adventure within Donald's internal caverns. In the end, Mickey and Goofy's shrink condition wears off, resulting in Donald laying an egg, hatching into the duo. An astonished Ludwig congratulates the trio on their discovery of "men from egg" and openly ponders on the idea of further investigation, much to Donald's dismay and fear.
Von Drake also appeared in the episode "Wonders of the Deep", where he takes Mickey, Donald and Goofy on a voyage to explore the wonders of the deep. An excited Mickey asks the professor if the voyage can next focus on finding legendary creatures such as mermaids and the kraken. The professor, believing the probability of finding the kraken to be low, begins calculating the exact percentage chance, before suddenly being jettisoned out of the submarine and into the sea and being eaten by a clam. The clam carries Von Drake off, leading to Mickey and Donald traveling to rescue him. Fortunately, they do, battling off the Giant Squid in the process. When the professor is freed from the clam inside the submarine, it is revealed that he was oblivious of any sort of danger, as well as the squid battle, as he was still calculating the probabilities of finding one. Ironically, he learns that there's still a chance and asks Mickey, Donald and Goofy if they would like to search for it, resulting in a fearful Mickey and Donald jettisoning themselves out of the submarine in the same clam that ate Von Drake.
In "Split Decisions", Von Drake is visited by Mickey and Donald; the former explains that Donald's temper has been more unruly than usual, and a remedy is in need for the sake of his health and relationship with Daisy. Von Drake uses an invention to remove Donald's anger, though this creates two trouble-making incarnations of Donald: one who's obnoxiously happy, and another with a dangerously violent temper. While Von Drake works to recalibrate the machine, Mickey rounds up the two Donalds to revive the original.
In Raw Toonage, Ludwig Von Drake makes two guest appearances in the episodes 1 and 8, as an expert in toon-physics.
The Disney studio encouraged the writers of the Donald 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 brief 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 that was illustrated by Tony Strobl, but it only lasted for four issues before being discontinued. The character did keep making subsequent appearances in other comic titles such as Walt Disney's Comics and Stories and in the Donald Duck newspaper strip.
Nowadays, Ludwig is still a popular and frequently appearing character in Disney comics, especially those in Italy.
Video Game Appearances
Ludwig appears in the opening cut scene as Goofy and Pete's employer in the History Museum.
Von Drake was a supporting character in the game and was seen inside his laboratory which is visited by Mickey. Here, Von Drake must assist Mickey on his quest to find the mayor of Toontown who has gone missing.
Ludwig was the organizer of the race tournament and journey to rescue Pluto. He is also a secret unlockable character.
Ludwig is a playable character in the game. To unlock him, a player must select Minnie Mouse and win a few games.
Ludwig (along with Magica De Spell in another part of the game) help the racer in the game. The player goes to Ludwig for car upgrades (in the payment of Disney Dollars) and he will also tell you where the test track is.
Ludwig Von Drake makes extremely rare appearances as a walk-around character at the Disney Parks. However, despite only appearing briefly in the past, since early 2013, Von Drake has made quite a few appearances throughout the Disney theme parks, usually alongside Scrooge McDuck.
In Mickey's Toontown, a window for Von Drake's Old Curiosity Shop can be seen on one of the buildings.
In 2013, Von Drake made meet-and-greet appearances in Disneyland as part of the Disney Dreamers Everywhere! events.
In 2008, Disney Parks released a promo starring Von Drake as he and a narrator explained the Walt Disney World Resort in 3D where you can tour the entire resort through your computer.
In the Mouse Gear shops located around the different parks, most notably Epcot, a silhouette of Ludwig can be seen in the artwork surrounding the top interior of the shop.
In January 2013, Ludwig made special appearances at the Magic Kingdom as part of the Limited Time Magic event.
A statue of Von Drake is featured in Disneyland Paris at Disney Village's Disney Store.
Along Mickey Avenue, Von Drake has a spot dedicated to him named Ludwig Von Drake's Fireworks Factory.
- Von Drake is the first Disney character made specifically for television.
- Although he is more widely known for being related to Donald by marrying Scrooge McDuck's sister, some 1960s Disney comics (including Tony Strobl's 6-pager Barn Dance Doctor, first published in 1961) state that Ludwig is Grandma Duck's cousin.
- This relationship was even further established in the German translation of Duckburg, U.S.A (first published in 1961). Here, Grandma reveals that Ludwig is the son of her maternal aunt and a certain Hofrat Von Drake.
- In contrast to these classic comics, a character profile poster of Ludwig in the German Disney comic magazine Micky Maus Magazin states that he is Grandma Duck's nephew rather than her cousin.
- He is possibly ambidextrous, as seen in Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. He writes with his left hand briefly near the beginning and writes on the chalkboard with both hands.
- Before he was said to have married Matilda McDuck, Ludwig dated a duck lady named Alice in a series of 1985 newspaper comics. Alice and Ludwig met each other through the 'Absentminded Dating Club', and kept forgetting each others' names.
- ↑ http://coa.inducks.org/story.php?c=ZD+61-09-24
- ↑ http://coa.inducks.org/story.php?c=YD+61-10-04
- ↑ http://coa.inducks.org/hr.php?normalsize=1&image=http://outducks.org/webusers/webusers-char0/us_gpsb_04_02_006_gd.jpg
- ↑ http://www.duckipedia.de/images/2/2d/MMMPrimus.JPG
- ↑ http://coa.inducks.org/character.php?c=Alice+from+YD&c1=code