There seems to be an unwritten rule that anyone who is a genius must also be eccentric. The same holds true for the duck with all the answers, Ludwig Von Drake. While he may never have possessed the same star power as his beloved nephew, Donald, he is certainly enough of a character to warrant his inclusion as a Retroland icon. Let’s take a look back.
Ludwig Von Drake was born and raised in Vienna, Austria (which explains his thick accent) and currently resides in Ducktown. He has amassed numerous degrees throughout his life and is knowledgeable in all of the sciences. As a result, the bespectacled professor is often called upon to explain scientific information in layman’s terms for the masses. He is particularly well versed in psychoanalysis and has conducted extensive research, often using his nephew and other cohorts as his subjects.
Von Drake is a lover of all things musical and loves to share his knowledge – and his unique singing voice – with the world. One of his better-known songs is “The Spectrum Song,” which teaches listeners about all the colors in the spectrum. Besides music, he also dabbles in inventions, although his track record is hit-and-miss. Like most geniuses, he tends to be a little absent-minded, no doubt affecting his success rate over the years. Still, he is often called upon to find solutions to common problems via his advanced intelligence. Clearly, those few failures have not managed to tarnish his reputation any.
Of course, such a busy schedule leaves little time for family. He is rumored to have married Uncle Scrooge’s sister, Matilda Duck, although both parties have effectively kept their beaks sealed on the details. They are obviously fond of each other, but everything else is pure speculation. Ludwig also has a trusted companion that travels extensively with him, a Bootle Beetle named Herman. Still, his life has been a lonely one and he therefore treasures the relationships he has managed to develop. And, being that his work and studies keep him occupied around the clock, he has likely neglected to notice that fans around the world adore him.
Ludwig Von Drake was first introduced to audiences during the first episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and was called upon to teach everyone about the spectrum in a cartoon called An Adventure in Color. His wonderfully quirky voice is a creation of legendary voice artist, Paul Frees, whose voice can still be heard throughout Disneyland in attractions such as The Haunted Mansion (as the eerie Ghost Host) and on the Pirates of the Caribbean (as the animatronic Auctioneer). Mr. Frees would voice Ludwig Von Drake through a series of eighteen episodes of the above-mentioned Disney television show, as well as a number of musical performances that were released on Disneyland Records. For those that may remember seeing an educational cartoon in school called Donald in Mathmagic Land, Von Drake had a prominent role in the film and acted as its narrator.
Frees stopped doing the professor’s voice in 1986 but that certainly wasn’t the end for Ludwig Von Drake who has made numerous appearances in other Disney projects such as Duck Tales, House of Mouse, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. When Frees stepped down, the character’s voice was entrusted to Walker Edmiston, who was also the voice for the magic flute on H.R. Pufnstuf, “Sigmund” on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and “Inferno” from The Transformers. Recently, Corey Burton has taken over doing Von Drake, as well as handling many, many other Disney voices. He has been called on to imitate Paul Frees on numerous occasions over the years.
Of all the Disney characters, Ludwig Von Drake has certainly established himself as the brain of the bunch. In fact, he is usually the duck they call when they need some problem-solving assistance. And in that capacity, Drake has never disappointed. In fact, over the years, it would seem that everyone has gained some web-footed wisdom from him, whether it be learning about color, math, music, or any other area of his vast expertise. And, if that means putting up with a bit of eccentricity, so be it.
If you have any thoughts or recollections you would like to share with us about Ludwig Von Drake, we welcome them in our comments section.