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. 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.
Paul Frees was the original voice of Ludwig von Drake. Frees retired from the role before his death in 1986, and Walker Edmiston took over. Corey Burton currently voices the character.
Ludwig von Drake comes from Vienna
. 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. Ludwig had a fascination with knowledge. Since his youth he had 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. (According to a theory by Don Rosa
the professor married Matilda McDuck
, one of Scrooge McDuck
's sisters, though this is by no means canon, however it might be the only way that Ludwig could be Donald's uncle.) In the comics Ludwig usually visits with Donald Duck and 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.
Inside Donald Duck
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. He also let fly some seriously questionable 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...." almost suggesting cannibalism.
Cartoon appearances (1980s-present)
von Drake has appeared on several Disney animated cartoon series: DuckTales
, Raw Toonage
, 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 1991
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 the show, he tries to use his inventions to make the club perfect, and is difficult to "stump" in what amounts to a trivia contest. He also had his own series of cartoons called von Drake's House of Genius, where his inventions had either been invented before or backfired on him (for example, he created a machine to print money so that everyone could have as much money as they needed, and he ended being arrested for counterfeiting) and a cameo in a Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoon in which Mickey and his compatriots foiled The Phantom Blot's attempts to rob all the banks in the world using a special credit card von Drake invented to allow people to get whatever money they needed.
Ludwig von Drake in the Sing-Along Songs series
In the Sing-Along Songs
series of videos, he has hosted these six volumes:
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 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.
Ludwig von Drake around the world
Ludwig von Drake is known by different names in other languages: