In his native Denmark, Poul Brahe Pedersen was nicknamed “A Gentlemen of the Press” by his newspaper colleagues. In Burbank, California, he had another prestigious title, according to former vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company Roy E. Disney. As a trusted friend of Roy O. Disney, Poul was among the select few who sometimes joined the Company co-founder around his kitchen table. Roy E. Disney once recalled, “I always thought of Poul as a member of my Dad’s European ‘kitchen cabinet.’ It was an apt phrase, because that’s where mother and dad always fed their friends.”
Born October, 24, 1910, in Heidelberg, Germany, Poul studied law at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. After graduating in 1937, he learned of a job opening as legal advisor to the editor of one of Denmark’s largest daily newspapers, Berlingske Tidende. Poul’s law career turned toward publishing and, in 1942, he transferred to the staff of the morning edition, called B.T., where he was appointed editor during the German occupation. In that position, Poul weathered the many professional challenges of the time, including Nazi censorship.
He remained editor of B.T. until 1954, when he joined Disney licensee Gutenberghus Publishing in Copenhagen as its managing director of weekly publications.
In his new position, he traveled to California to meet with Roy O. Disney and proceeded to negotiate a 17-year contract for the right to publish Donald Duck magazine. As a result, a long-term goal was established to expand its publication from Denmark to other countries.
To help meet this lofty goal, Poul transformed the magazine from a monthly into a weekly publication. He hired highly skilled English specialists to translate American stories into Danish, as well as talented artists and writers to develop original artwork and stories for the magazine.
Sometimes the magazine introduced new words invented by writers, some of which have since become a part of everyday Danish language. These included “langbortistan,” meaning “far away land,” according to Poul’s son Christian Brahe Pedersen. The stellar quality of Donald Duck magazine paved its way to such “langbortistans” as Sweden, Norway, and West Germany.
Christian said, “My father made Donald Duck magazine a class publication. Its translation was never in slang and the character art was flawless. Even today, the magazine is so popular that when an original issue goes on auction it can sell for as much as $10,000.”
After serving more than 21 years with Gutenberghus, Poul Brahe Pedersen retired in 1975 and passed away three years later, on February 13, in Copenhagen.