Note: I was a guest of Walt Disney Pictures for this junket. All opinions are strictly my own.
I scratched my head and tried to remember what year it was that I first saw BAMBI. I knew that it wasn’t when it was first released…because THAT was 12 years before I was born (I just gave up my age), and since we didn’t have DVD, blu-ray, or even VHS players back then, my best guess would be that I was in elementary school at the time (in the 1960’s). So, when I heard that I was going to be meeting the original voices of Bambi and Thumper, I was a little shocked.
I was able to get a few fun facts from Donnie Dunagan/Bambi and Peter Behn/Thumber as well as a little chat with the fabulous creator of the beautiful Bambi art for the 75th Anniversary Edition.
1. Donnie Dunagan didn’t tell his wife that he was Bambi until she had found a box of hundreds of fan letters and all seven or eight movies in cardboard boxes well into their marriage.
2. Peter Behn originally auditioned for the part of Bambi, but lost it to Donnie. They later called him to be Thumper (without a second audition).
3. Peter was only four years old, and Donnie was only five when they recorded their voices for the movie.
4. Donnie Dunagan was only 3 ½ – 4 years old when he first started performing. He won his first talent competition singing “A Tisket, A Tasket” (a song my grandmother used to sing to me) dressed in a paper bag hat and a stick from a tree as his cane.
5. Because they were so young when recording the movie (and didn’t read well) they had voice coaches in the booth reading the lines to them with the proper inflections to copy.
6. Bambi was originally slated to be released in December 1941, but after Pearl Harbor Disney thought it was better to wait until 1942.
7. Donnie was a Marine Corps Boot Camp commander….he never told his troops that he was the voice of Bambi, and when they rereleased the film WITH credits, he was relieved that no one wrote home saying “Dear mom, guess what. My commanding officer is Bambi.”
8. Donnie made seven movies by the time he was 5½, and fired his agent (himself) at the age of 5.
9. Donnie and Peter never met when they made Bambi.
10. According to Donnie, Bambi is truly a very strong statement in favor of protecting the environment and the concern that man was ruining it or even make it worse.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Paul Felix, designer of the exclusive art designed specifically for this 75th Anniversary release. The tank top featuring the Paul Felix art will be available via Disney Movie Rewards with every digital purchase/redemption of the Disney BAMBI Anniversary Edition.
Join me in a tour of Walt Disney’s Office
For the first time since Walt Disney died, his office is open once again. Curated just as it had been when Mr. Disney sat behind the desk, or lounged in the sitting room with his kids playing, select few can actually step into the office of the man who truly made magic happen around the world.
You are one of the few (only D23 Gold Members have been taken on tours) who are getting a peek at where Walt worked. Think of the talent that spent time in these offices alongside him.