Madame Bonfamille, often simply called Madame, is an elderly, wealthy woman, who apparently was a famous opera singer at one point (she said that she once played the title character of George Bizet's Carmen, and was even seen dancing to the aria "Habanera"). At the time of the film, however, she had no living relatives, thus she doted on her cats. Her other friends included her lawyer, Georges Hautecourt, and her butler, Edgar Balthazar. Despite her old age, Madame Bonfamille has a sophisticated appearance.
Madame is a polite socialite who is very kind and generous, and at times vain (though not distastefully so). She loves her cats dearly, telling them that they are the greatest treasure she could own and is unaware of Edgar's evil schemes. Her main downfall is that she's too trusting.
Madame has long, silvery-white hair, usually worn up in a Gibson Girl-style bun (except when she is sleeping, where it extends down to below her shoulders, though she wears a night bonnet while asleep), and wears a violet-red Edwardian Era dress. When she is sleeping, she wears a long lavender nightgown including a purple bonnet and a pink dressing gown.
At the beginning of the film, she is seen in her carriage, driven by Edgar, with her cats. Upon returning home, it is revealed that she is expecting her lawyer and longtime friend Georges Hautecourt to come to handle some business matters. After he arrives, she tells Georges that she wants to make out her will. She notes that she has no living relatives, only her cats, and Edgar, which Georges interprets to mean that she is leaving her extensive fortune to Edgar. Madame corrects him, revealing her plan to leave the fortune to Duchess and the kittens. Edgar is to care for the cats until their death when he will inherit the vast wealth himself. Unknown to Georges and Madame, Edgar has overheard her intentions through the pipes. Fearful that he will be dead before he can inherit, he kidnaps the cats and drops them off in the French countryside. Madame is noticeably saddened and worried by the cats' sudden disappearance, but does not know that Edgar kidnapped them, after waking up in the middle of that stormy night and checking on the cats' bed (which is revealed to be empty by a flash of lightning from outside) after appearing to have a nightmare about them.
Much later, Madame thinks she has heard the kittens and rushes to check the door, bringing Edgar with her. Unknown to her, Edgar has heard the kittens earlier and had trapped them in an old oven, until he could get rid of them again, and Madame sorrowfully returns to her house. However, the cats are rescued from Edgar by O'Malley and all return safely.
At the end of the film, it is revealed that Madame has adopted O'Malley, citing the need for a man around the house. While taking a portrait of the cats, she laments that Edgar left (actually, the cats got rid of him by shoving him into a trunk headed for Timbuktu and sending him there), ironically thinking that he wouldn't have left had he known about the will. Per her instructions, Edgar is written out of the will. Instead, Madame begins a foundation that opens up her home for the alley cats of Paris, which is revealed to already include Scat Cat and his gang of alley cats.
Madame Bonfamille was the namesake of the Bonfamille's Cafe restaurant that once existed at Disney's Port Orleans Resort. Early kids menus took the form of a coloring and activity booklet telling a story of Madame Bonfamille and her cats visiting Port Orleans and befriending a sea serpent through the use of music. The Sea Serpent would be named "Scales", as in "Scales and Arpeggios", and served as the icon for the resort's pools, though Imagineers would come up with their own backstory for the creature.
- The name "Bonfamille" is derived from the French phrase for "good family" ("bon" being the masculine word for "good" and "famille" meaning "family," though "famille" is feminine, so the right way would have been "bonne famille").
- ↑ "A Friday Visit With Jim Korkis: Scales the Sea Serpent at Port Orleans French Quarter". Yourfirstvisit.net.