Apologies in advance if any of the following comes off as “Hastily Assembled”.
I was very late in the game when it came to getting any television beyond the simple Broadcast signal…Very late. Like, “I didn’t get Cable or Satellite until the FCC forced me to a few years ago” late. Partly because of the backwoods area where I lived, partly because Cable & Satellite was considered a “Luxury” in my home, but suffice to say, I didn’t get caught in the never-ending web of reruns until 2009 when Digital TV became a requirement. It is because of this late blooming that I have a certain fondness for the 3 networks and syndication that’s greater than other people my age who proclaim “Those were the days”. It is also because of being late in the game that a show like Disney’s “Ducktales” (woo-hoo) stands out as a treasured memory of treasure hunting.
Yesterday, it was reported that Alan Young, a man whose career spanned nearly 80 years, passed away at the age of 96. A passing at any age is always going to be sad–though given the roll call of luminaries we’ve lost this year so far, Young’s passing is comparatively less of a shock than, say, Bowie, Frey, Haggard, and some other guy who had an affinity for wearing Purple…his name escapes me right now (he said sarcastically). At the same time though, his passing is actually quite a blow for us Generation Xers, and even a few Millennials who tend to look at things from the past with a touch of irony. More often than not (depending on your local listings) “Unca Scrooge” was there waiting for us kids to come home from school and take us on the adventure of the day. Huey, Dewey & Louie (and sometimes Webby, Mrs. Beakly, and on Rare occasions Gizmoduck–nee: Fenton Quackshell) would come along for the adventure aided by ace pilot Launchpad McQuack; a character whose crashes should’ve been the subject of several dozen investigations/lawsuits by the FAA…but I digress.
So popular was this show, that a couple of Video Games were released in the 80s by Nintendo. and because people my age have a habit of liking things from the past a little too intently, they recently came out with “Ducktales Remastered” for the Nintendo WiiU. I’ve seen “Let’s Plays” of the game online, and quite honestly, the thing that really blew me away about the game was not how it was a more-than-faithful adaptation of the original NES game, but the fact that they were able to get (almost) ALL of the Original voices from the show to participate in it. Russi Taylor was back as the Nephews, Terry McGovern was back as Launchpad, June Foray was back as Magica DeSpell, and most importantly, Alan Young–then 94 years of age–returned to play Scrooge. Best of all, they all sounded like they didn’t miss a beat even nearly 25 years after the last original episode. Speaking of which, it was Rumored that there would be BRAND NEW episodes of “Ducktales” airing on one of Disney’s cable channels due for a 2017 launch. If that’s true, I’m hoping Mr. Young was well enough to complete his work, otherwise there will be no joy in Duckburg–or at the very least, no closure. Then again, Since the original episodes first aired in the 80s, they have gone on to enjoy a seemingly endless trip on what I’d like to call “The Rerun Loop”; meaning that somewhere in the world, even the most remote parts of it, the show is still running those same episodes to this day–so maybe we don’t need “closure” as long as the memory of the show stays alive in other venues, forums and people who greatly enjoyed it. Which brings me back to Alan Young. He played the voice of Scrooge McDuck since 1983 in “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”, a role he would continue to play on and off for 32 years, a role that (depending on your age) turned out to be more popular than the role that made him famous; as “Wilbur” on “Mr. Ed”. For most of his career, Young was probably one of the busiest character actors in the industry. A Bit part here and there, but like many character actors, he gave it his all in the brief time he had on camera. There’s Way too many roles to mention here, so do yourself a favor and check out his IMDB page instead–it kinda blows my mind that he also has “Battle of the Planets” AND Ren & Stimpy on his resume as well.
96 years of life is nothing to sneeze at, my grandfather on my father’s side of the family got to live up to the age of 92. One of the last things he told me a few years prior to his passing is that it’s not about making an impact with your life that matters, it’s about your life making an impact on others. Scrooge McDuck and Co. made a significant impact on my life growing up–not because Ducktales was just another cartoon I could zone out watching, not because of a catchy ear worm of a theme song, but because it actually helped provide comfort at the end of a long day; probably one of the first times the concept of “Televised Comfort Food” would take root in me. Who would’ve guessed comfort would come from “The World’s Richest Duck”.