Bambi’s Got a Secret

Here I am with your Disney buzz of the day!

By Brittney Moore

The hit classic “Bambi” goes back to the year 1942 and is only the fifth film in the Disney animated classic series. You would never it know but the voice behind the lovable character Bambi would seriously surprise you.

Meet Donnie Dunagan, a decorated Marine and veteran of the Vietnam War who served for a quarter century. Dunagan was drafted in the ’50s and was outstandingly promoted 13 times in 21 years. This was a Corps record at the time. Dunagan has the best kept secret of any career Marine I can think of, he voiced the furry and lovable character of Bambi in 1942.

As a child Dunagan had a brief run in with acting and was chosen by Walt Disney himself to voice the coveted character of Bambi. Dunagan, now 80, tells his wife, Dana, the experience of carrying around a secret for a lifetime.

“I never said a word to anybody about Bambi, even to you,” Dunagan said. “When we first met I never said a word about it. Most of the image in people’s minds of Bambi was a little frail deer, not doing very well, sliding around on the ice on his belly.”

It’s very hard to envision the voice that was once Bambi as a commander in a Marine Corps, responsible for hundreds of recruits. Dunagan didn’t want his recruits thinking of him as the warm and fuzzy Bambi. God forbid anyone ever called him “Major Bambi.” He would have been mortified, so he kept his mouth shut.

Years later and a week shy from Dunagan’s retirement the secret finally got out. No matter how hard he tried to escape it, that voice from his past always found him.

“But I love it now — when people realize, ‘This old jerk, he’s still alive and was Bambi,” Dunagan said. “And I wouldn’t take anything for it, not a darn thing for it.”

Bambi, the character that is so close to people’s hearts is voiced by a true American hero.

This is Donnie Dunagan in 1974, during his time in the Marine Corps. Even if anyone had known, it's tough to imagine anyone calling him BAMBI de David Hand - 1942 - (


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