Friday, February 02, 2018

I learn some crazy stuff while surfing through car photos... this little tyke? He's the voice of young Bambi, and went on to a Marine Corps career where he was also a drill instructor.

Little Donnie Dunagan, an actor from 38-42, a Marine from '52-77 retiring as a Major. How about that?!!!
He enlisted in 1952 and was subsequently promoted 13 times in 21 years — a Corps record at the time, he recalls.

He has worked with Karloff, Lugosi, and Rathbone in Son of Frankensrtein, and as a spy in cold war Berlin, and was shot a couple times in the Tet offensive in Vietnam. The collapse of Enron ate his savings and he is now working to make ends meet. (It's a fact, he's one of the last alive to have worked with Karloff who acted right until he died in 1969, and with the 65-year interval between the making of the original Bambi and his participation on the DVD, Donnie probably holds the record for the longest-awaited show business comeback of any entertainer in the world!)

 But once, long ago, Donnie Dunagan was the voice of Bambi. He said "bird-a" "flower" and "butterfly", some of the most recognizable lines in all Disney films.

Dunagan was born in San Antonio, Texas, but his family soon moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where they struggled with poverty. There at the age of three-and-a-half he won a talent contest prize of $100.

 Spotted by a studio talent scout, the family moved to Hollywood, where Dunagan appeared in a series of films and soon became his family's main breadwinner. Famous co-stars include Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, and Boris Karloff. His career height was as the model for, and voice of the young fawn in Walt Disney's Bambi.

above, in 2017, the voices of Thumper and Bambi!

He recalls the "great ice-cream" they served in the cafeteria and the way Uncle Walt brought real-life deer to the studio because the animators were city kids and had never seen one before. "Mr Disney was a very nice man, very courteous," he remembers. "Some people are the boss because they wear a badge saying 'I'm the boss'. But Mr Disney didn't need that. I had the sense that he was a natural leader."

By the age of 13, Dunagan was living in a boarding house and working as a lathe operator. In 1952, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, became a boxer and Harley rider too.

 He became the Marines' youngest-ever drill instructor and served three tours in Vietnam, where he was wounded several times in the Tet offensive in Feb '68, then was an instructor at Quantico in combat skills and military law, before finally retiring in 1977 with the rank of Major.

For his service he received a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Dunagan kept his acting career a secret while serving in the Marines

By this time, it's nothing more than a let down to mention the RV... it's the Hunt House car, a unique early housecar built by Hollywood cinematographer Roy Hunt between 1935 and 1945, considered to be the first mobile home with a working shower. The one above was known as the Star, and the image was a 1938 publicity photo and this gray one is the only photo I've ever seen of one before, in a dozen years of surfing the internet.

The Hunt house car from 1937 used a 1937 Ford truck chassis.

Due to the nature of his work, Hunt spent several weeks at a time away from home. He occupied hundreds of places while practicing his profession and he raced cars and motorcycles for a hobby. His strangest past time, however, was building RV’s.

J. Roy Hunt was able to use aircraft engineering to build the streamlined body you see in the photos. He had a auto-body shop help him with the fabrication. Hunt built almost 50 of them over the next decade, making it one of the rarest production motorhomes in existence, it also featured a disappearing toilet that folds into the wall so the shower has additional space

Currently, the 1937 Hunt House Care is housed at the RV/MH Museum and Hall of Fame in Indiana.

Skip the 1st minute, as always, it's a waste of time


  1. welcome! It's an incredible story!

  2. Excellent story! I'm now going to wow my friends (both of them!) that Bambi became a drill sergeant!

    1. Thanks! It's now one of my favorite stories, and what's most remarkable, isn't something I found on some other website, I had to piece this together, and it will help me keep getting a press pass to Comic Con and D23 Expo!