This art print, inspired by the Walt Disney film Bambi, is hand-signed by the characters’ respective voice actors, Donnie Dunagan (Bambi) and Peter Behn (Thumper).
The fifth animated feature to be released by the studios in 1942, Bambi brought a close to the Golden Age of Disney Animation. The title role was voiced by six-year-old Donnie Dunagan, who had previously appeared in six films after being spotted by a talent scout at the age of three. Bambi was his final role as an actor, voice or otherwise. Of interest is the fact that Dunagan’s first film role was that of Peter Carey in 1938’s Mother Carey’s Chickens, which was later remade by Disney as 1963’s Summer Magic, starring Hayley Mills. Jimmy Mathers (the brother of Jerry Mathers of Leave It to Beaver fame) played Peter in the updated version. After acting, Dunagan went on to a successful military career of twenty-five years, receiving the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam.
For Peter Behn, voice of the lovable Thumper, Bambi would be his first and only film. His father, who was working as a screenwriter at the time, lined up the initial audition for his four-year-old son. The child’s rambunctious energy caused him to be passed over for the lead role, but landed him the part of Bambi’s memorable rabbit-sidekick. Over the course of a two-year period, Behn was called to the studio a total of eight different times to record lines, thanks to the ever-evolving story line. After cementing his Disney legacy at the ripe old age of six, Behn chose not to pursue an acting career and would later launch a career in real estate.
A signed print, featuring signatures from two of the most iconic Disney characters of all time (from the Golden Age of Animation no less) is very rare—more so considering that after production of the film wrapped, Dunagan and Behn wouldn’t meet again for nearly sixty years. Dunagan’s personalized inscription makes reference to the lyrics of “Love Is a Song,” which plays during the opening credits of the film, and both actors include their character names along with their signatures.
The endearing artwork and personalized touch from the memorable voices who brought the film’s animated stars to life is a very unique collectible transplanted straight from the Golden Age of Disney Animation.