- "Hello, 'dere'! Professor Ludwig Von Drake here. Certified scientist, and all-around expert on brilliant things!"
- ―Ludwig Von Drake
Professor Ludwig Von Drake is a Walt Disney cartoon character who was first introduced as the presenter (and singer of "The Spectrum Song") in 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 Walt Disney anthology series, as well as on a number of Disneyland Records.
Ludwig was orginally voiced by Paul Frees.
BackgroundLudwig 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, more often than not lecturing on a certain topic. He was originally designed and animated by legendary animators Milt Kahl and Ward Kimball.
In recent years, Von Drake has made a comeback, being featured as a regular member of the Mickey and Friends franchise, often appearing in TV shows and video games centered on Mickey Mouse and his friends, including Von Drake's aforementioned nephew, Donald. He often takes the role of the bumbling scientist whose inventions comically cause mayhem.
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. In some early American comics featuring Ludwig, such as Barn Dance Doctor (1961), he was said to be Grandma Duck's cousin.
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 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.
The Disney studio encouraged the writers of the 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 that was 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.
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.
It's interesting to note that his love of innovations, lecturing in an entertaining tone and forward-thinking makes Von Drake an animated counterpart of Walt Disney, much like Mickey Mouse.
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.
He was also given a companion, Herman the Bootle Beetle, who would become a recurring sidekick to Von Drake in a few of his appearances.
Episodes featuring Von Drake
- An Adventure in Color/Mathmagicland (24 September 1961)
- The Hunting Instinct (22 October 1961)
- Inside Donald Duck (5 November 1961)
- Kids is Kids (10 December 1961)
- Carnival Time (4 March 1962)
- Von Drake in Spain (8 April 1962)
- Man Is His Own Worst Enemy (21 October 1962)
- A Symposium on Popular Songs (19 December 1962)
- Three Tall Tales (6 January 1963)
- A Square Peg in a Round Hole (3 March 1963)
- Fly with Von Drake (13 October 1963)
- The Truth About Mother Goose (17 November 1963)
- In Shape with Von Drake (22 March 1964)
- Mediterranean Cruise (1964)
- A Rag, a Bone, a Box of Junk (1964)
- Music for Everybody (30 January 1966)
- A Salute to Alaska (1967)
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.
Ludwig Von Drake makes two guest appearances in the episodes 1 and 8, as an expert in toon-physics.
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 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 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 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 "Locksmiths."
In the series, Ludwig's mother, who could be heard by voice only, was introduced. Later, her voice (provided by April Winchell) was used again in House of Mouse. Furthermore, Ludwig's mother was mentioned several times in the comic Wiener Schnitzel Woes by Lars Jensen and Maximino Tortajada Aguilar.
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.
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.
Ludwig returns in the Mickey Mouse animated series, appearing in the episode "Down the Hatch" as a museum scientist and tour guide introducing various scientific marvels, including 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. Ludwig, astonished, 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.
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. 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 he challenged their Disney knowledge in the Ultimate Disney Trivia Tournament 2011.
A statue of Von Drake is featured in Disneyland Paris at 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 special appearances at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland as part of the Limited Time Magic events. Also in 2013, Von Drake made meet-and-greet appearances in Disneyland as part of the Disney Dreamers Everywhere! events.
In Mickey's Toontown, a window for Von Drake's Old Curiosity Shop can be seen on one of the buildings.
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)
- 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 state that Ludwig is Grandma Duck's cousin.
- This relationship was even further established in the German translation of Duckburg, U.S.A (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.
- In early appearances, seemed to be obsessed with pickles.
- 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.