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Huey, Dewey and Louie

Donald's nephews.


Huey, Dewey, and Louie appeared for the first time in the Donald Duck newspaper Sunday page October 17, 1937, written by Ted Osborne and drawn by Al Taliaferro. At the time the Studio was working on a cartoon called Donald's Nephews (IMDb link) (directed by Jack King) with the same theme, but due to the longer production time it didn't premiere until 1938. In the daily strip the boys first stayed with Donald only for a while, but later they returned for good.


How are the boys related to Donald?

In their premiere Sunday page Donald gets a letter with the following text:

Dear Donald:
I am sending your angel nephews Louie, Huey and Dewey, to stay with you while their father is in the hospital. A giant firecracker exploded under his chair. The little darlings are so playful. I hope you enjoy them.
Your cousin,
Supposedly this cousin Della is the boys' mother, but it's not made explicit. (The name Della may have come from Al Taliaferro's aunt Della.) In the cartoon the letter (addressed to mr. Donald Duck, Hollywood, Calif) instead said:
Dear Brother ---
I am sending
your angel nephews
to visit you ---
Sister Dumbella
Supposedly this sister Dumbella is the boys' mother, even if it never really says so this time either.

In the fifties Carl Barks made a Duck Family Tree for his own reference, and there he calls HD&L's mother Thelma Duck and she is a sister to Donald. This Thelma has never been used in a story though, and in Don Rosa's revised version of the family tree her name is Della instead and she is Donald's twin sister. The poor father of the boys has never had a name anywhere.


How do you tell them apart? Which one wears which colour (red/blue/green)?

The short answer is that Huey wears red, Dewey blue, and Louie green, but that this has not always been the case.

In the old cartoons HD&L wore different colours in different cartoons, and sometimes two or all three of them wore the same colour, very often red. In their very first cartoon Huey wore a green shirt and cap, Dewey orange and Louie red.

So this red-blue-green thing was invented in the comics, where their shirts are black but their caps have different colours. Earlier the colourists weren't consistent about it though, so not only do they wear different colours in different stories, but also they seem to switch caps between panels!

[Hm, I skipped over the Sunday pages. What about the colouring of them?]

The current official colour scheme was first used in the modern TV animation, i.e., in DuckTales, and later adopted by Gladstone and Disney Comics most of the time.

Different personalities?

As it's often hard to know what nephew we are looking at there would be problems in finding out if the nephews have different personalities even if they had so. Most of the time they do not, anyway.

But at least Pat Block lets the boys have different personalities. Huey is particularly brave and thoughtful, while Louie is most impulsive and reckless.

A fourth nephew?

In some stories four nephews have been seen together in the same panel by mistake.

Here are the known instances of that. The first two stories are maybe not true appearances of Fooey. They show four Junior Woodchucks ducklings in the same panel, but maybe the fourth one is just some other Junior Woodchuck who happens to look a lot like Huey, Dewey and Louie. The rest of the stories listed are much better examples.

On the letter page in Uncle Scrooge #246 was a comment about the fourth nephew seen in The Phantom Lighthouse in the previous issue, and he was called Fooey. (The editor was Bob Foster, and presumably this name was his invention.) At least on the Disney comics mailing list this name has stuck, but mostly the alternate spelling Phooey is used instead.

In Comics Buyer's Guide some issue in April 1996 [#?] there was an article by the Carl Barks Studio that claimed that artists/editors/writers had named the surplus nephew Barks, as a tribute to Carl Barks. Bill Grandey had gotten that information from Lena Balleby, vice president of information for Egmont.

When these errors have been noticed by the editors it has been too late too do anything about it, even though when they have noticed it long before the books were published. When one of these stories was published in Norway the Norwegian editor notified the press beforehand and they allowed readers to name the fourth nephew.

In Denmark a popular TV show had a phone-vote where viewers named the fourth nephew Fup. (Huey, Dewey, Louie are Rip, Rap, Rup, and Fup means fake/phoney.)

Rupu has been used as a Finnish name, rhyming with Hupu, Tupu, Lupu, and having the same [?] meaning.

Other sources

Rich Bellacera's HooZoo page.

Find the names in other languages for: Huey Dewey and Louie

Last updated February 27, 1999.

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