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Duchess is the female protagonist of Disney's 1970 animated feature film The Aristocats. She is the mother of Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse.

Background[]

Personality[]

Duchess is very elegant, beautiful, and ladylike, being the pet of an aristocrat. She is very devoted to her owner, Madame Adelaide Bonfamille. She is kind and friendly to everyone. She is both caring and protective toward her children and also tries to encourage them to develop into proper members of French society. She also is a connoisseur of music and presumably teaches her kittens to sing and play the piano.

Duchess is also shown to be slightly pacifistic, as she scolds her kittens for "play-fighting". She is sweet and compassionate and is willing and able to make friends with anyone, no matter their background. She also seems to show concern for others, as is evidenced when she calls out to Thomas O'Malley as he floats down the river after he throws Marie to safety.

Physical appearance[]

Duchess is a long-haired purebred white Turkish Angora cat with blue eyes later described as shining like sapphires. She wears a gold, jeweled collar studded with diamonds.

Appearances[]

The Aristocats[]

Aristocats-disneyscreencaps

Duchess in The Aristocats

Duchess and her three kittens Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse, live in a large mansion in 1910 Paris with their owner Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, a retired opera singer. At the beginning of the film, the family is returning from a carriage ride. Back home, Duchess oversees Toulouse's painting lesson and Marie and Berlioz's music lesson. Later, Madame Bonfamille meets with her lawyer and dear friend, Georges Hautecourt. After kissing Duchess' tail (which the lawyer believes to be Madame Bonfamille's hand), they settle down to business. Madame reveals that, after her death, she intends to leave her vast fortune to Duchess and her kittens. At the end of their lifespan, Madame's butler, Edgar would inherit. Edgar overhears, and plots to remove the cats from the inheritance, as he believes he would die before getting to inherit.

That night, Duchess and the kittens are drugged using milk mixed with sleeping pills. Edgar catnaps Duchess and her kittens and leaves them in the French countryside so that Madame Adelaide would think the cats had run away so that she could give the entire fortune to himself. After Edgar flees back to Paris following a scuffle with two feral dogs, Duchess and her kittens awake to very unfamiliar surroundings, and endure a frightening and rainy night together in the basket they were transported in. The next morning, Duchess meets Thomas O'Malley, an alley cat, who offers to guide them back to Paris. They have difficulties returning to the city, briefly hitchhiking on the back of a milk cart before being chased off by the driver. Marie subsequently falls into a river and is saved by Thomas. They then meet a pair of English geese, Abigail and Amelia Gabble, who are traveling to Paris. The group heads off, marching like geese until they reach Paris and come across the girls' drunken Uncle Waldo. Abigail and Amelia then depart to take Waldo home.

Traveling across the rooftops of the city, the cats meet Scat Cat and his band, close friends to O'Malley, who performs the song "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat". After the band has departed and the kittens lie in bed, O'Malley and Duchess spend the evening on a nearby rooftop and talk, while the kittens listen at a windowsill. O'Malley offers to have Duchess stay and be with him, but she sadly turns him down, largely out of loyalty to Madame Adelaide.

The next morning, Duchess and the kittens make it back to the mansion, whereupon O'Malley departs sadly. Edgar sees Duchess and kittens coming and captures them, placing them in a sack hidden in an oven. Duchess tells Roquefort to pursue O'Malley and get help. He does so, whereupon O'Malley races back to the mansion, ordering Roquefort to find Scat Cat and his gang. Edgar places the cats in a trunk which he plans to send to Timbuktu, Africa. O'Malley, Scat Cat, his gang of Alley Cats, and Frou Frou all fight Edgar, while Roquefort frees Duchess and the kittens. In the end, Edgar is tipped into the trunk, locked inside, and sent to Timbuktu himself. Madame Adelaide's will is rewritten to exclude Edgar and include O'Malley and any future kittens he and Duchess have. Madame also starts a charity foundation providing a home for all of Paris's stray cats. The grand opening thereof, to which most of the major characters come, features Scat Cat's band, who perform a reprise of "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat".

House of Mouse[]

Duchess made a few cameo appearances in the animated series. Her only speaking role was in "Ladies' Night", where Daisy Duck announced a phone call for Duchess, having many Disney Princesses believe she was referring to them. Duchess then arrives and states, "Darlings, she said, 'Duchess,' not 'princess,'" and picks up the phone. This was also the only time in which a character that was previously voiced by Eva Gabor has dialogue.

Miriya & Marie[]

Duchess makes a minor appearance in the 2015 manga "Miriya & Marie". In the Manga, Marie introduces Duchess to Miriya after getting trained to use some magic by Marie. Duchess asks Miriya if she can show off some magic that amazes her. After Duchess congratulates Marie for teaching her some magic spells, she starts cuddling her. Miriya sees the two interactions and starts to cry when she starts missing her parents. Marie notices this and gets a magic crystal ball for Miriya's mother and father to interact with each other. Eventually, the crystal ball gets stolen, and Duchess watches on in shock. Marie actually has a small house of her own in the manga and apparently moved away from Duchess.

Once Upon a Studio[]

In the short, Duchess appears during "When You Wish Upon a Star", with Berlioz, Marie, Toulouse, Thomas O'Malley, Tod, Copper, Gurgi, Basil of Baker Street, Olivia Flaversham, David Q. Dawson, Dumbo, Timothy Q. Mouse, Flit, Mama Odie, and Boun as they surround Pocahontas as she sings. Duchess and The Aristocats characters join in singing the last line as the group photo is successfully take for Disney's 100th anniversary.

Gallery[]

Wiki
The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Duchess.

Trivia[]

  • Like Lady in Lady and the Tramp, Duchess is a house pet who gets accidentally separated from her home, and as she tries to find her way home, she meets, falls in love with, and marries a street-smart individual at the end of her story. The contrast is all of Lady’s puppies are biological to Lady herself and Tramp while O'Malley becomes a stepfather to Duchess’ three kittens at the end of their story.
  • She was voiced by the late Eva Gabor, who also voiced Miss Bianca in The Rescuers and its sequel.
  • Some of Duchess' dance moves were infamously reused for that of Maid Marian in Robin Hood.
  • Duchess bears some resemblance to Mewsette from the Warner Bros/UPA film Gay Purr-ee, which coincidentally also featured talking cats in Paris, France.
  • It is possible that after marrying Thomas O'Malley, Duchess' full name now appears to be Duchess Bonfamille-O'Malley.
  • It is likely that Duchess' first mate (the father of her litter) had either orange and/or black fur, due to Toulouse and Berlioz having those fur colors.
  • Her name means wife or woman of a duke who has the same equivalent rights to be a monarch ruling over a duchy or a member of the nobility.
  • Duchess is the first main protagonist to be a single parent. In most other cases they are the hero and heroine's parent, or they already have a spouse.
  • In animatics for the canceled sequel The Aristocats II, Duchess was voiced by the late voice actress Russi Taylor.
  • Duchess is the only cat that doesn't wear a ribbon.
    • In one comic, her personality slightly differs from that of her in the movie, where she can be seen punishing her kittens instead of telling them from wrong to right.
      • In another comic, she can be seen attacking some alley cats, but only to save Thomas O'Malley from them.
  • Duchess may be an inspiration for Mama Cat from Don Bluth’s Banjo the Woodpile Cat.


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