- “Hello, 'dere'! Professor Ludwig Von Drake, here. Certified scientist, and all-around expert on brilliant things!”
- ―Ludwig Von Drake
Professor Ludwig Von Drake is one of Walt Disney's cartoon characters. He was first introduced as the presenter (and singer of "The Spectrum Song") in the cartoon An Adventure in Color, part of the first episode 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. 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 but that hasn't been included in any major stories. (According to a theory by Don Rosa, the professor married Matilda McDuck, one of Scrooge McDuck's sisters).
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 to see who is the greater inventor.
In spite of being a world renowned scientist, psychiatrists, and lecturer, Ludwig is incredibly wacky, somewhat bumbling, and as he puts it "Cooky!". 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 a comical shenanigan. Most of the professor's time is spent creating an array of magnificent inventions meant to make life easier for both himself and the world. However, more often than not does one of the professors 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.
Role in the Disneyland television series
- “And you know something, without light there is no color.”
- ―Ludwig Von Drake[src]
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 The Wonderful World of Color. In order to introduce this new feature, his company also created the brainy German scientist Ludwig Von Drake. Drake turned out to be a very popular recurring character and appeared many times hosting the weekly show and also appearing in some specials, with one even being nominated for the Academy Award.
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. It might be that the storytelling was supposed to happen after talking about the Mother Goose Rhymes and it's history, hence the quote: "Now Fairy Tales are not like Mother Goose Rhymes."
Von Drake reprised his psychiatrist role in several guest appearances on Bonkers, appearing mostly in the episodes produced by Duane Capizzi and Robert Hathcock.
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 Real 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 the series, Von Drake was given his own series of cartoons. He was also given a short series entitled "Von Drake's House of Genius" where he creates a new invention meant to make live easier but the creations backfires and is often 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 "Hydrosquirter", Von Drake accidentally creates a time traveling bath tub. In "Futurmania", the professor's latest invention is experimented 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 the Mickey, Donald, and Goofy cartoon: Locksmiths.
Ludwig is a recurring character in the 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. Unknowing to them, the culprit was The Phantom Blot, and he and the missing guests were inside Von Drake's machine. 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 for the episode "Pete's Christmas Caper".
In his latest appearance, 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 drunk 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.
In the Disney's Sing-Along Songs series of videos, Von Drake appeared as the host of 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)
Currently, Ludwig Von Drake is a supporting character in the Mickey and Friends spin-off franchise in Japan; Disney UniBEARsity. In the story, Von Drake is the professor for several major characters from the original franchise. One day, Von Drake assigned a homework assignment, though Mickey and his friends had a hard time finding a topic until they made teddy bear versions of themselves. However, Von Drake found the project ridiculous until the stuffed toys came to life filling the professor's heart with joy.
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.
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 assists 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. He usually appears during Donald Duck's birthday bashes and parties. 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. 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.
As one of the Disney character mascots for the club, Ludwig attended 2011's D23 expo in Anaheim, California. At the event, Ludwig judged the contestants as the challenged their Disney knowledge in the Ultimate Disney Trivia Tournament 2011.
A statue of Von Drake is featured in the Disneyland Paris at the Disney Village's Disney Store. 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.
Most recently, Ludwig, and other characters including Rapunzel and Buzz Lightyear, made an appearance at the Walt Disney World Marathon. In January 2013, Ludwig made a special appearance in Walt Disney World as part of the Limited Time Magic event. He also appeared with Scrooge McDuck at Disneyland in April 2013.
Also in 2013, Von Drake made meet-and-greet appearances in Disneyland Paris as part of the Disney Dreamers Everywhere! event.
In Disneyland's ToonTown, his laboratory window can be seen on one of the buildings.
- Von Drake is the first Disney character made specifically for television.
- Although he is more widely known for being related to Scrooge McDuck by marrying Scrooge's sister, a 1960s comic states that Ludwig is Scrooge's cousin.
- In early appearances, he seemed to have an obession with Pickles.
- His name is a pun-off of Ludwig Van Beethoven, a famous piaonist.
- He is (possibly) ambidextrous, seen in "The Wonderful World of Color." He write with his left hand briefly near the beginning, and writes on the chalkboard with both hands.
Heroes and Allies: Scrooge McDuck | Huey, Dewey and Louie | Launchpad McQuack | Webby Vanderquack | Betina Beakley | Duckworth | Gyro Gearloose | Doofus Drake | Fenton Crackshell | Donald Duck | Bubba the Cave Duck | Tootsie the Triceratops | Gene the Genie | Glittering Goldie | Admiral Grimmitz | Duchess of Swansylvania
Villains: Beagle Boys (Big Time, Burger, Bouncer, Baggy, Bankjob, Bugle, and Babyface) | Ma Beagle | Flintheart Glomgold | Magica De Spell | Poe De Spell | El Capitan | Merlock the Magician | Dijon | Cinnamon Teal | Dracula Duck
Organizations: Junior Woodchucks
Characters: Bonkers D. Bobcat | Lucky Piquel | Miranda Wright | Fall-Apart Rabbit | Dilandra (Dyl) Piquel | Marilyn Piquel | Leonard Kanifky | Fawn Deer | Skunky Skunk | W.W. Wacky | Ludwig Von Drake | Mad Hatter | March Hare | Toots | Harry Handbag | The Mean Old Wolf | Jitters A. Dog | Pops Clock
Villains: The Collector | Ma Parker | Wooly and Bully | Chick and Stu | Wacky Weasel | Wolf | Mikey Muffin | Mr. Malone and the Ape | Scatter Squirrel | Mammoth Mammoth | Warris and Donald | Hoagie, Knuckles, and Chumps | Mole | Al Vermin