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D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?

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D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?
D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?

D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?

He looks great for a nearly 63-year-old duck, but who is Ludwig Von Drake? You may have seen his latest appearance in a video that explains “How to Vote for Disney” as part of The Walt Disney Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders coming up on April 3. But you may not know a lot about Donald Duck’s brilliant and eccentric professor uncle. To remind you of Ludwig’s many entertaining appearances, we’re sharing here some of the “8 Genius Facts About Ludwig Von Drake” compiled by Disney historian Jim Fanning on the occasion of the character’s 60th birthday in 2021:

His 1961 Debut
Ludwig Von Drake first appeared on the premiere episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color on September 24, 1961. The only major animated character Walt created especially for television, Professor Von Drake is Donald Duck’s father’s brother. (He has a different last name because Donald took his mother’s name when he went into show business.) As quoted from Von Drake’s official bio by Walt Disney, Ludwig is “an eminent psychologist, renowned color expert, etymologist” and “the most sought after lecturer in the world. He is undoubtedly the outstanding genius of the century.”

His Colorful Origins
Walt Disney’s arrival at the forefront of color television programming in 1961 was big news. His move to NBC, “the Color Network,” from ABC, home to the Disney TV hour since 1954, made headlines. To signal his serious intent to produce must-see full-color broadcasts Walt created an all-new animated character: Ludwig Von Drake, who held forth on “An Adventure in Color/Mathmagic Land,” the first Wonderful World of Color episode. He let loose with the first of his loony lectures, on color, of course, especially as seen via color TV.

D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?
D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?

Related: D23 15th Anniversary Means Even More Magic For Fans and Specials for Members

His Distinctive Voice
One of Walt’s favorite voice artists, Disney Legend Paul Frees, was the vocal powerhouse behind Professor Von Drake’s zany on-screen personality. Gifted with a three-octave vocal range and an unerring ear for impressions, Frees was also a talented actor whose vocal improvisations helped shaped the Von Drake character beyond simply a wild Austrian accent. “Walt Disney gave me a lot of liberty in portraying the Professor, and I’ve made him more personal than any of my other characters,” Frees once said. The actor voiced a variety of Disney roles, including many of the buccaneers in Pirates of the Caribbean and the weirdly welcoming Ghost Host at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park. He took a live-action role in Walt Disney’s The Shaggy Dog (1959), playing a psychiatrist.

His Famous Nephew
In his appearances, Ludwig emphasized academia, reveling in rants and ramblings about geometry, geography, atomic energy and especially psychiatry. In “Inside Donald Duck” (1961), the learned loony actually succeeds in curing Donald of his infamously fiery temper—until Ludwig presents his nephew with the bill. And in the DuckTales TV series, the learned professor took on perhaps his greatest challenge (since Donald anyhow) as psychiatrist to Launchpad McQuack.

His LP Recording
Ludwig crashed the spoken-word recording trend of the 1960s by yakking it up about color theory, music (singing some specially composed Sherman Brothers songs along the way), and the art of sound recording on his own LP album, Professor Ludwig Von Drake. Once available only as a vinyl LP, this classic comedy album is accessible today via online music stores.

His Appearances in Print
Ludwig jumped from the television screen to the printed page with such hardcover classics as “Ludwig Von Drake, Dog Expert” as well as his own comic book title. Ludwig also joined the comic-page cast of the classic Donald Duck newspaper strip drawn by Disney Legend Al Taliaferro and written by Bob Karp. On September 22, 1961, Donald starts preparing for the arrival of the “all-around genius” from Vienna by redecorating his guest room with a telescope, test tubes, and maybe even a “hunk of uranium 255.” Donald unveils an oversized painting of his Uncle Ludwig (sent as a gift by the Professor himself) in the Sunday color comic page published on September 24, 1961—the very date Von Drake debuted on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. From that point on, Ludwig was a supporting star of the Donald Duck strip for the next four decades.

His Beetle Buddy
Such a talkative talent needs someone to converse with besides the television audience, so Ludwig was given a pet named Herman to interact with. A bootle beetle—that particular Disney species of insect—Herman popped up from time to time to help Ludwig with his presentations. In “Music for Everybody” (1966), Ludwig introduces his own 99-piece orchestra made up entirely of bootle beetles. Herman and his musical pals also appear as the Bughouse Five, a spoof of the Disney-artist jazz band, Firehouse Five Plus Two, headed by frequent Ludwig animator Ward Kimball.

His Recent Roles
In addition to playing it up in various video games, Ludwig has thrived in recent TV productions, starring in his own segment, “Ask Von Drake,” on House of Mouse (2003–2009). His tricky song wherein the wacky vocalist rapidly rattled off an endless list of Disney characters has become a YouTube favorite. On Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Von Drake invented the titular high-tech clubhouse, equipping it with outlandish accessories. In the stylized and crazily creative Mickey Mouse series of newly produced cartoons from 2013, the kooky professor fits right in. This Disney favorite continues to delight video audiences whether or not they are aware of his zany television debut 62-plus years ago!

D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?
D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?

D23 History: Who Is Ludwig Von Drake?

Greg Gatelyhttp://TheFUNaticsBlog.com
Greg "The Blue Hair" Blogger. If you are traveling around the Central Florida area you wont miss his Blue Head walking around, probably taking images. Co-Owner, Photographer, Podcaster, All Around Nice Guy, and curator of the most fantastical Disney Blog. You can listen to Greg on The Live Podcast show every week, along with seeing him live on Funatics Diary with Sam's Disney Diary. Once an Audio Engineer and Tour Manager with bands like Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, Collin Raye, Dispatch, just to name a few. Having retired from touring Greg spends all his time bringing the World of Disney to you. With over 3000 Articles written, and countless Images taken, Greg still enjoys living this amazing lifestyle. Thank You for reading!

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