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Della Duck, also variously known as Dumbella Duck and Thelma Duck, is a female anthropomorphic duck.
Della is Donald Duck's blond-haired twin sister. Born like her brother in 1920, Della married an anonymous Mr Duck and had triplets with him, Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck, who were born somewhere around 1935. Strong and daring, Della chose the career of aeroplane pilot, at a time when this was not considered "a woman's job", and she subsequently became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane in a solo flight.
When they were very young, the still very mischievous and disobedient Huey, Dewey and Louie had caused a firecracker to go off underneath their father's armchair, landing him in a hospital. Della was a talented air pilot, which did not leave her enough time to take care of her children on her own without her husband's help; she sent them off to live with her brother Donald for a few weeks. Later that year, she also sent them to Donald for a shorter while. Both times, the kids behaved like absolute pests, and it was only begrudgingly that Donald agreed to take them on again in 1938. while Della set on an experimental space flight. Della was not heard of again and eventually presumed dead, Huey, Dewey and Louie staying to live with Donald.
In fact, Della was quite alright; as her spaceship passed near the Earth many years later, it was possible for Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie to contact her from Earth. It turned out, because of the laws of time relativity, Della's vehicle's great speed was such that she had only felt a few weeks pass. Seeing Huey, Dewey and Louie on the screen, she mused that she had left "three boys" at home, whom she hoped would turn out like them; knowing Della would only return to Earth many years later from their perspective, the Ducks did not have the heart to reveal her the truth before the communication was cut off.
Behind the scenes
Della was first mentioned in 1937 in Donald's Nephews.
The letter from her in the Donald's Nephews comic strip is signed "Cousin Della", oddly enough, rather than "Sister Della". Meanwhile in the 1937 cartoon of the same name, she signs another letter to Donald "your sister Dumbella". In Carl Barks's first Duck Family Tree, she is "Thelma Duck", a name also used in Mark Worden's version. After the printing of Worden's tree, fans wrote to Disney asking why she was "Dumbella" in the cartoon and "Thelma" in the tree; the official answer was that Dumbella had probably changed her name to Thelma by the time the tree was made, due to the embarassment of her previous name. In Don Rosa's Duck Family Tree, her real name is instead given as "Della"; "Thelma" is completely ignored, and "Dumbella" is explained as a childhood nickname of Della that was courtesy of Donald.
Relationship with Amelia Earhart
In real life, the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a solo aeroplane flight was Amelia Earhart, from whom the depiction of Della in Family Ties, and also to some extent in DuckTales 2017, was heavily inspired. It was in 1928 that Earhart completed her first and most famous transatlantic flight, though she waited until 1932 for a solo crossing; both dates seem somewhat too early for Della, assuming she was indeed born in 1920 as is commonly accepted.
Though now the most famous, Della is not the only counterpart of Amelia Earhart to exist in the Disney comics universe. A cartoonified Amelia Earhart appeared in earnest in The Bermuda Triangle Amusement Park (2000), and Launchpad McQuack once became enamored with a no-nonsense, modern-day pilot known as Bedelia Airheart in Lovelorn Launchpad (1996).
Johannes A. Grote's Alternative Genealogy
In Johannes A. Grote's Duck Family Tree, the portrait of a blonde female duck resembling Rosa's Della, drawn from the background of a Carl Barks story, was used to represent Huey, Dewey and Louie's mother. However, she remains nameless, and, most strikingly, she is depicted as Donald's sister-in-law (the daughter of ”Opa Ostman” and his wife), while it is her husband who is Donald Duck's brother. While the identification of the two Barksian portraits as Huey, Dewey and Louie's parents is acceptable enough, it is unclear how the rest of it can possibly slot in with accepted continuity, as simply switching Della and her husband around again does not suffice — his last name being usually understood to be Duck, rather than Ostman, especially if he is in fact Daisy Duck's brother as is commonly speculated.