In the year 1934, Walt Disney introduced the world to Mickey Mouse‘s lovable ill-tempered friend, Donald Duck. Donald Duck’s character was an instant success, and he became one of the most famous cartoon characters of all time. Three short years after creating Donald Duck, comic artist Al Taliaferro got an idea to create three nephews for Donald duck: Huey, Dewey, and Louie. In their comic debut on 17 October 1937, Donald received a letter from his cousin Della before his nephew arrived:
I’m sending your nephews Louie, Huey, and Dewey, to live with you because their father is injured and is in hospital. Their father is in the hospital because a firecracker exploded under his chair. The little darlings are so playful. I hope you enjoy living with them.
With a willing heart and open arms, Donald welcomed his nephews into his home. Of course, he soon realized that the angels that Della referred to were rebellious monsters.
What happened to Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck’s parents?
So, what happened to the dad of Donald’s nephew? As Della’s letter said, their dad was sent to the hospital because a firework exploded under his chair. It is said that his sons placed firework under the chair or it could be their fourth son and Donald’s fourth nephew who mysteriously appeared at random times in various Mickey Mouse comics.
This is the last time we hear about their dad. From the little information available, Daddy Duck either died while in the hospital, or he had abandoned his kids and fled far away from them to avoid any more of their jinks.
So, the next question what happened to their mother, Dumbella Duck, aka Della. In the letter she sent to Donald Duck, you may have noticed that it read your cousin, not your sister Della. She also states in the letter that the three kids are Donald’s nephew. This would imply that Della was not the mother given she’s Donald’s cousin unless the boy’s father was Donald’s brother, and it could be a case of cousin marriage- quite common in that era.
However, a similar letter in Donald’s Nephew – 1938 cartoon, where the letter and story were modified, read that:
Dear Brother, Donald-
I am sending your nephews to visit you – Your Sister, Dumbella
Well, to make this more complicated, the 1950s version of Donald Duck‘s family tree release by Carl Barks referred to the triplet’s mother, as Thelma Duck. Some fans say that Dumbella, Della, and Thelma are different characters, while others say that Della is just the nickname of Dumbella. Given the next storyline, the theory that Della and Dumbella were the same is correct.
This brings us back to the question of what happened to Della. Well, in comics, we never heard of her and her husband again. So, there’s an excellent probability that died, or they abandoned their children.