- “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. The paternal uncle of Donald Duck, he is portrayed as a brilliant, yet eccentric lecturer, scientist, and psychiatrist, who frequently 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 September 24, 1961, making him the first Disney animated character created specifically for television.
Von Drake comes from Vienna, Austria, and has a fascination with knowledge. In Ludwig's second animated appearance, "The Hunting Instinct", Walt Disney explains that Von Drake comes from the paternal side of Donald's family—the Drakes, whom are a continental branch and the "eggheads" of the Duck family clan.
Ludwig is described as a scientist, world-traveler and psychiatrist. He has obtained degrees from such universities as Oxford, Cambridge, and Heidelberg, and, in one of his comic strip appearances, Ludwig himself claims that he has obtained "about 98 degrees" in total. In A Symposium on Popular Songs, Von Drake credits himself for the creation of various musical fads including ragtime, the blues, and even rock-and-roll, throughout the 20th century.
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 often shown as having little social competence, however, and is often portrayed as being very forgetful, sometimes even somewhat senile. During many of his classic lectures, Ludwig would often get sidetracked rather quickly, with the end results being comical shenanigans.
Regardless, he is normally portrayed as extremely intelligent and more than likely to know nearly everything about a certain topic—ranging from science to music. A notable recurring goal for the professor has been to discover the source of his nephew Donald's temper tantrums, mostly for the sake of Donald's health. Outside of lectures and his studies in psychology, most of the professor's time is spent creating an array of magnificent inventions and therapies meant to make life easier for both himself and the rest of the world. More often than not, however, does one of the professor's creations go off the deep end.
Von Drake is rather pompous as a result of his genius. He prides himself in his intellect, and never hesitates to attempt to convince others of his genius, to the point where he can be somewhat of an egotist. He also has a habit of beginning the name of his inventions with "The Von Drake" heading.
His catchphrase is "Hello, there!", which he often shouts when greeting someone, or at the beginning of one of his cartoons.
Von Drake's raspy, Austrian-accented voice was originated and provided by Paul Frees, who was also well-known as the voice behind the Ghost Host in Disneyland's The Haunted Mansion attraction. Walt gave Frees a hefty amount of freedom and liberty when it came to shaping Von Drake's personality, as ad-libbing was encouraged, much of which was added to the script. To achieve Von Drake's fast-paced voice, Paul Frees' recordings were sped up by about five or six percent.
Following Frees' retirement from acting in the 1980s, Von Drake's distinct voice was provided by Walker Edmiston, who was given Frees' blessing before assuming the role. Eventually, new home video projects came along of which Ludwig was to star. Auditions were held for a new actor to officially take the mantle from Paul Frees, but no one could emulate the voice. Corey Burton actually turned down the role five times, believing he couldn't possibly pull off the performance. However, the founder of the Disney Character Voices division believed in Burton's talent, and worked alongside the actor to recreate Frees' vocal mannerisms. Burton eventually assumed the role, and has been consistently voicing Von Drake for over three decades.
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's creation was something of a necessity, as Walt did not want to use the likes of Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck in the style of Xerox animation, as he felt it would cheapen their characters.
Walt also viewed the new character as a way to keep animators around the studio busy with new content. Von Drake's initial design was conceived by story man Bill Berg, who would later pass down the sketches to legendary animators Milt Kahl and Ward Kimball. Kahl was said to have been inspired in part by Picasso when finalizing Ludwig's design. A total of seven of the legendary Nine Old Men were called upon to handle the animation for Ludwig's debut episode.
The character is said to have been inspired by vaudeville comedians and German scientists. Two particular German space experts, Wernher Von Braun and Heinz Haber, had been about the Disney studio as technical consultants on Disney's space-related television programs. Their thick German-accented English, flamboyance and intelligence were reportedly inspirations for Ludwig's character.
Ludwig Von Drake was introduced in 1961, with the introduction to Walt Disney's television series Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. Though he was intended to be a 'one shot' character, Von Drake proved so popular with audiences that he became a recurring character in Disney's related television projects, usually lecturing on a certain topic. 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. In "The Truth About Mother Goose", Von Drake appeared as the host and narrator 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. This version would go on to become the "definitive" version of the short, being used in home video releases and television airings for decades to follow.
On December 19, 1962, Von Drake starred in his only theatrical appearance, a 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 make irregular appearances in various spots, such as "Donald Duck's 50th Birthday" The Magical World of Disney broadcast in 1984 and "Down and Out with Donald Duck" in 1987, both of which featured Ludwig dealing with Donald's unstable temper. Also in 1987, Von Drake co-hosted "Disney's DTV Doggone Valentine" television special alongside Mickey and Jiminy Cricket.
Von Drake would later go on to host of the Disney's Sing-Along Songs series of videos, beginning with 1988's You Can Fly. 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 finally Colors of the Wind, released in 1995.
In 1991, Von Drake hosted the television special Lifestyles of the Rich and Animated, where he takes a look at the "private lives" of classic Disney characters. Around this time, 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 1999, Mickey Mouse Works premiered on ABC, and featured Von Drake as the star of his own animated shorts, including the gag segments "Von Drake's House of Genius". In the years that followed, Von Drake regularly appeared in television shows, comics, video games, and other media centering Mickey Mouse and his friends, typically serving as the absent-minded scientist and self-proclaimed genius whose inventions and experiments comically cause mayhem.
Von Drake became a very popular recurring character and appeared many times hosting the weekly show, following his debut. 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", Walt revealed that the professor is the brother of Donald Duck's father. He further explained that the drakes (being Donald's paternal family branch) are the "eggheads" of the Duck clan. In the same episode, Von Drake 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, whom Ludwig claims was none other than the original "Mother Goose", was shown on a portrait in "The Truth About Mother Goose".
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 Spirit Moves You", 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 to pay 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 "Futuremania", 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 still ends up losing the challenge, after Mickey points out that the professor 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 goes 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 a 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. In during which, he is jettisoned out of the submarine and into the sea and being eaten by a clam. 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 probability 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, prompting a fearful Mickey and Donald to jettison 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 re-calibrate the machine, Mickey rounds up the two Donalds to revive the original.
In "Duck the Halls", Von Drake migrates to the south for the winter season alongside Daisy, Scrooge McDuck, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie as a family trip. Donald was meant to join, but according to Daisy, he stayed behind to celebrate Christmas with Mickey and the others. Ludwig mourns the absence of the guinea pig for his experiments, but more importantly explains that Donald is in grave danger should he stay in the north for too long, as a duck cannot survive in such weather. In the end, Christmas is celebrated in the south. Ludwig is accidentally given Scrooge's money bag for the holidays, while Scrooge gets Ludwig's telescope, though the two exchange understandingly. They are then seen playing checkers together as the day comes to an end.
In "Three-Legged Race", Ludwig teams up with the Martian Robot to compete in the titular race. Like the other racers (sans Mickey) Von Drake cheats by using the robot's mechanics to sabotage Donald and Scrooge. In "Surprise!", Von Drake used a growth ray to aid in the creation of Mickey's giant birthday cake.
Ludwig is a recurring character in the animated racing series, residing in Hot Dog Hills alongside the other characters. He has a laboratory beneath Mickey's garage, where he works on various inventions, and is able to communicate with Mickey and the others through a video monitor. He, once again, plays the role of a well-meaning professor that regularly creates inventions for the benefit of Mickey and his friends, only for said inventions to cause trouble in one way or another. An example of this is "Smarty Goof", where he invents a hat capable of turning its host into a genius, and "Mouse Vs. Machine!", where he creates an A.I. car that challenges Mickey to a Roadster race to see if actual drivers are still necessary. In "Grandpa Beagle's Day Out", it is shown that Ludwig sells high-tech bikes on the side from a garage in town.S.H.U.S.H. and the employer of Bentina Beakley, under her alias Agent 22. Ludwig briefly appears in a flashback taking place in the 1960s in the episode "From the Confidential Casefiles of Agent 22!", in which he assigns Beakley to take down a F.O.W.L. operative with her new partner, Scrooge McDuck. For the sake of their mission, Von Drake equips Scrooge with his new invention: the Von Drake Action Cane PPK.
In Raw Toonage, Ludwig Von Drake makes two guest appearances in the episodes 1 and 8, as an expert in cartoon-physics.
The Disney studio encouraged the writers of the Donald Duck comics to introduce this new character in print and already in September 1961, on the very same day that his animated debut aired on television, Von Drake started appearing in Al Taliaferro and Bob Karp's featured daily newspaper strips. He also made a brief appearance in the one-page story Flowers are Flowers in Uncle Scrooge #54 (December 1964), which is notable for being Von Drake's first and only appearance in the works of 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.
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. In recent comics, he works as a college professor at Duckburg's Coot University.
Currently, Ludwig is still a popular and frequently appearing character in Disney comics, especially those created in Italy.
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 Disneyville (Minnie Mouse) who has gone missing. After Mickey finds Minnie trapped in the tower of Pete's lair, he uses Von Drake's flying contraption to crash in and rescue her.
Ludwig was the organizer of the race tournament and journey to rescue Pluto. He is also a secret unlockable character. He becomes available when the player completes the Frantic Finale in the Professional difficulty and earns the Platinum Trophy. Ludwig's stats make him extremely difficult to use optimally, but he is considered to be perfect for time trials. He has the highest possible top speed and has the heaviest kart, but the worst handling and the worst acceleration. Ludwig's kart is purple.
Ludwig is a playable character in the game. To unlock him, a player must select Minnie Mouse and win a few games.
In Disney's Cartoon Arcade, Von Drake (through archive animation) leads the player through various Disney shorts and guides them through a mini-game based on said short.
In Goofy's Hysterical History Tour, Ludwig appears in the opening cutscene as Goofy and Pete's employer in the History Museum.
In Mickey's Racing Adventure, 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.
Though Von Drake has yet to make a physical appearance in the series, he is referenced in Kingdom Hearts III. During Sora's visit to Twilight Town, Olette shows him a poster for Mickey and Sora in Giantland. According to the poster, sound cartoons in the Kingdom Hearts universe were created by Ludwig Von Drake himself. Von Drake's credit can be seen on other Classic Kingdom posters posted throughout town as well.
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 2018, Von Drake appeared alongside other Mickey Mouse characters for meet-and-greets in the area.
In 2013, Von Drake paired with Scrooge to make meet-and-greet appearances in Disneyland, as part of the Disney Dreamers Everywhere! event.
In 2008, Disney Parks released a promo starring Von Drake as he and a narrator explained Google Earth's feature that allowed users to tour Walt Disney World Resort in 3D on their 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.
At Disney's Animal Kingdom, Ludwig appears on Donald's Dino Bash! signage throughout DinoLand U.S.A., explaining the evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs that serve as the basis for the character meet-and-greet experiences.
In Tokyo Disneyland, a figure of Von Drake indulging in chocolate can be seen at the Duck Family Chocolate Competition shop. Von Drake is also featured alongside other members of the Duck family in a mural displayed in Villa Donaldo Home Shop at Tokyo DisneySea.
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.
- According to Walt Disney, Ludwig is the brother of Donald Duck's father. Disney identified the Drakes as the continental branch of the family, and the eggheads of the clan. In "The Donald Duck Story", before Ludwig was introduced, it had already been specified that the Drakes were Donald's paternal relatives, but Donald took his mother's maiden name, "Duck", instead. This relation was not carried over into the popular Donald Duck comic stories, and Ludwig was not included in the comic iteration of Donald's family tree. Instead, Ludwig's relation to the comic Duck family is inconsistent and has been altered on numerous occasions.
- Although Ludwig does not appear in the final version of the tree, Don Rosa originally wanted to include the professor on the Duck family tree as the husband of Matilda McDuck, one of Scrooge McDuck's sisters. However, this contradicts the fact that, in "Kids is Kids", Ludwig stated that he is a bachelor. Some official Disney sources have went with Rosa's interpretation, such as the 2001 book The Little Big Book of Disney, though that book's family tree has a question mark next to the placement, referencing the ambiguity.
- 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.
- At one point in the 1960s, during the production of the Disneyland television series, there were plans at the Disney Studios to give Ludwig a son, who was to be voiced by Fred Frees, Paul Frees's own son.
- 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.
- Ludwig once 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.
- Though Paul Frees was famous for ad-libbing as the professor, Corey Burton stated in an interview it took him twenty years to feel comfortable enough to improv while voicing Von Drake.
- Concept art for Ralph Breaks the Internet reveals that Von Drake was intended to make a cameo in the Oh My Disney section of the film.
- ↑ Valerio, Britt (June 14, 2017). "Disney XD's New DuckTales Has a Premiere Date and an Amazing All-New Opening Title Sequence". Oh My Disney. Disney
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ludwig Von Drake Tale
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 "DID YOU KNOW? 8 GENIUS FACTS ABOUT LUDWIG VON DRAKE". (September 22, 2016)
- ↑ https://coa.inducks.org/story.php?c=YD+61-10-04
- ↑ https://youtu.be/_fgKBNNpRwY?t=11m2s
- ↑ https://youtu.be/_fgKBNNpRwY?t=10m
- ↑ 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
- ↑ https://www.linkedin.com/in/fredfrees
- ↑ http://coa.inducks.org/character.php?c=Alice+from+YD&c1=code
- ↑ https://www.artstation.com/artwork/nnwo4