LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Bambi, the beloved doe-eyed forest Prince whose early life was first documented in Bambi, A Life in the Woods by author Felix Salten before being filmed by Disney Studios in 1942, died yesterday.
Bambi was 95.
Bambi died of natural causes at a long-term ruminant care facility in Sequim, Washington, Walt Disney Studios Vice President Sleepy said Tuesday.
"Bambi was part of an amazing generation of Disney heroes, one of the real legends of our time, one of the major participants in the blossoming of movie-making into the complex and beautiful art form we know today," Peter Pan, nephew of Walt Disney and director emeritus of the Walt Disney Co., said in a statement.
Bambi, who met Walt when they were students at Stanford University in the 1930s, was hired for $17 a week at a time when Disney was expanding his studio to produce full-length feature films and hard-hitting documentaries. Both worked on the first of those, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," which won international awards for its in-depth look at working conditions for dwarves in the diamond mining industry.
Bambi often worked as a colour consultant and was research advisor on "Snow White" and became unit supervisor on "Fantasia" and "Bambi", in which he also starred, and then lead director for "Pinocchio."
He was especially proud of his work in "Bambi" and its classic scenes, including one depicting the heartbreaking death of his mother at the hands of a hunter. That scene has brought tears to the eyes of generations of young and old viewers.
"My mother's death scene, recreated on film, showed movie-goers how convincing cinema could be at presenting strong emotion from real experience without allowing actors to chew on cardboard scenery," he remarked in 1999.
Bambi's consulting credits included "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Sleeping Beauty," "101 Dalmatians," "Mary Poppins," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," "Robin Hood" and "The Rescuers."
"[People] know his work. They know his stories and characters. They've seen him act, been touched by his heart and soul, without realizing it," film historian Leonard Maltin said. "He was one of the pillars, one of the key contributors to the golden age of Disney film."
Bambi's wife of 63 years, Faline, died in 2005. Bambi is survived by fawns Ken and Rick and does-in-law Carolyn and Teya.
The Walt Disney Studios is planning a life celebration for Bambi. Funeral services will be private.
Tragic Rabbit, Hollywood Hunter, Los Angeles