He fought in Korea and Vietnam and won four medals.  He kept a secret for 20 years that he was starring in a Disney movie

Donnie Dunagan was born on August 16, 1934, in San Antonio, Texas. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee shortly thereafter. Times were hard – the world was still suffering from the effects of the Great Depression, so the Dunagans struggled with scarcity and poverty. When Donnie was three and a half years old, he won a talent show and got $100. There, a talent scout discovered him and convinced his parents to move to Hollywood.

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For 25 years in the army, he hid the fact that he played Bambi

Little Donnie hit the cogs of the Hollywood machine and launched his movie career. While still a child, he starred in a series of films and became the main breadwinner in the family. He made his film debut in 1938 with the role of Peter Carey in Mother Carey’s Chickens. Next on the list was Son of Frankenstein: Dunagan played Peter von Frankenstein, son of Baron Frankenstein. It was a continuation of the famous horror movie “Bride of Frankenstein”. Dunagan co-starred with Hollywood legends like Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi.

“Boris Karloff was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He was always laughing and joking. Mr. Karloff gave me a gift of a wooden box with a metal water gun made in Germany. Wow, it worked amazing. My parents didn’t let me play with it right away, it was It took me a few years to get it in. Once I got it I got into a lot of trouble because I sprayed water on people in the studio a lot Disneya. One day the bodyguards took it from me, and after 70 years I’m still waiting for them to give it back to me” – he told one interviews over the years.

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Well, in 1942, Dunagan played the young deer Bambi in the popular Walt Disney cartoon. This role was also his farewell to acting. At the age of 13, he lived in a boarding school and worked as a lathe operator. In 1952, he enlisted in the Army and joined the Marine Corps. He became the youngest head coach in the history of his unit. He fought in the Korean War and went to Vietnam three times. He was wounded several times area This resulted in him being awarded the Bronze Star, which is awarded for bravery in the face of the enemy, heroism, or exemplary service. He also got three purple heartsAwarded to soldiers wounded or killed in action. employment the retirement Retired with the rank of major after 25 years of service.

– I received 13 promotions in 21 years, and I remember it very well, because it was a record at that time – he told the portal in an interview Story Corps :

I haven’t said a word to anyone in the Marine Corps about being Bambi. I was the commanding officer and drill instructor at a Marine Corps boot camp where there were hundreds of recruits for whom I was responsible. I decided I didn’t want all these young Marines to start calling me Major Bambi. And I kept my teeth closed.

His supervisor learned of his starring role in “Bambi” a month before he retired.

“Recently, I’ve found out how many people are interested in learning something from me, even though it’s been several decades since my short episode in show business, and I’m very surprised. As a kid, I had this good luckI have been in many films that are still considered classics and are popular with audiences,” Donnie Dunagan writes about himself on the official website.

After that short stint in the motion picture industry, my life took a completely different path and led me to a 25-year career in the United States Marine Corps. For years I didn’t talk about my short career in Hollywood and very few people knew about it. As a military man, my silence on the subject was evident. I decided it would be best to avoid my fellow Marines finding out I was once a Bambi deer,” he also explained. on your website.

In an interview with “moviewebHe recounted, “I was only six when production of Bambi began in the fall of 1940. My visits to the studio extended into early 1941. When asked what was the most difficult part of the role, he replied:

If he had talked about it while working on the movie, they might have fired me! The hardest part was maintaining a straight face. I loved the studio. People were very different. I had a great time there. The animators and other Disney employees offered to show me how things worked. And there was ice cream in the dining room!

– I remember being encouraged to behave naturally, like a real child. (…) Walt Disney was a pioneer of his time when he made sure that his characters were played by actors of the right age – as he recalled during this conversation.

“I wasn’t particularly proud of the beautiful curls I had when I was in the movies. I didn’t want to let anyone make jokes about them either. The studio curled my hair for me every morning with a curling iron, hated. I was a kid and didn’t want to look so cute.” he recalled years later.

“It’s such a pleasure that movie buffs remember me and some of my films, and what’s more — they’re interested in communicating with me. In fact, I’m practically the ‘last man alive’ of the Watchman who starred in these now-classic films. Luckily, I remember. Many of my days worked at RKO, Universal and Disney. Anyway, my exceptional memory was one of the reasons I started working in film at such a young age. I have many fond memories of Mr. Walt Disney and actors like Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi. Proud Very excited to be a part of a movie as beautiful and beloved as ‘Bambi’, which has also influenced several generations. children and their parents. I am sure its magic will last for a long time,” he addresses his readers in a short note on the site. In an interview with the organization NPR He even confirmed:

I think if I could be appointed a White House aide, it wouldn’t make any difference to anyone. This “Bambi” is very dear to people. I love the moment now that people realize this old man was Bambi and he’s still alive! I wouldn’t exchange it for anything, there is no such thing.

Bambi premiered on August 13, 1942 and was Walt Disney’s fifth feature film. The script was based on the book by Felix Salten. There are only 800 words of dialogue in the animation – this is the lowest of this studio’s full-length pictures. The animation received three Academy Award nominations and, ironically, were the basis for the soundtrack: for Best Original Score, “Love is a Song,” and Sound Design. Walt Disney also won a Golden Globe Award for Special Achievement for Bambi. In 2011, the production was registered by the US Library of Congress as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” work.

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