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April Showers bring Disney’s Flower…

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It was 82 years ago, in 1942, when the world was first introduced to the beloved film “Bambi.” I don’t think there is a more beautiful scene than when Bambi meets a little skunk that he unwittingly names “Flower.” (“Pretty, pretty flower”)  For those few minutes on screen, we see bashful joy, self-pride, and a feeling of acceptance. The skunk’s new name no longer feels like a case of mistaken identity.

A few months ago, I had the privilege to speak with Stan Alexander, who as a child was the voice of “Flower.”  We spoke on Stan’s 90th birthday and had a lot of laughs: he and his wife Gale shared stories about how he got the part, how he chose not to pursue a career in Hollywood, and instead followed his dream of becoming a doctor.

Flower is still a wonderful part of Stan’s life, especially for his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his patients. He recently appeared as a part of Disney’s 100th Anniversary celebration. 

Today’s guest blog post is from Gale as she shares some of these stories and photos. And, Stan wanted me to tell you, it’s alright, you can still call him Flower if you want to, he doesn’t mind.

“Bambi” was added to the National Film Registry in 2011 .

 

At the age of 6, Stan Alexander was the voice of “Flower” in Disney’s “Bambi” (1942).

 

“Bambi” – A Disney Film Classic
By Gale Alexander

In 1923, Austrian author Felix Salten wrote “Bambi, a life in the woods” and in 1939, pioneer and movie visionary Walt Disney started adapting that book into his fifth feature-length animated film.

The movie finished production in 1941 but was put on the shelf for a year to make room for the October release of “Dumbo,” and then to be sensitive to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, “Bambi” was finally released In 1942, premiering first in England and then in the United States.

A young Stanley Jarl Alexander attended Sunday school in Los Feliz, California, then the home of Walt Disney Studios. His teacher recognized his sweet little voice and asked if he would like to be in a movie. “No!” replied the shy six-year-old. He would rethink his decision when he learned he would get to miss school. When Stanley and his parents arrived at the studios, no one knew anything about Stan coming in for an audition, nor did they know the name of his Sunday school teacher. Fate would intervene, and since Stan was there, a very tall man with a script would read the lines for Stan to repeat.

 

A young Stanley Alexander was one of the first children to voice a Disney film.

Back in Stan’s elementary school, the other kids were envious when his grandfather would arrive to take him out of class. Alas, Stan would have a tutor on set and, to his dismay – homework. It was work, but it was fun. In the sound booth, another tall man would hold a microphone for him while he delivered his lines. When they played back the audio, Stan didn’t recognize his voice. Unfortunately, the film ran long. Approximately 6000 lines were left on the cutting room floor, many of them Flower’s, but 1000 lines have been added back to the latest release.

The story chronicles the adventures and coming of age of Bambi the fawn, Thumper the rabbit, and Flower the skunk. They all live in the forest and Thumper is teaching Bambi to speak. First, he sees a bird followed by a butterfly. He learns the word bird and then sees a butterfly. When Bambi calls the butterfly a bird, Thumper laughs hysterically. But then Bambi sticks his head into the flower patch and comes nose to nose with a skunk. Bambi, quick to impress Thumper, mistakenly calls him a flower. A hibernating “Flower” is all aflutter and repeats those iconic lines:

“Oh, that’s alright, he can call me a flower if he wants to. I don’t mind.”

While shooting the film, Stan only saw pieces of the movie. It wasn’t until his parents took him to the theater that he saw the film in its entirety. He remembers the event vividly. Instead of the lights dimming to start the movie, the theatre manager took the stage and asked him to stand and take a bow.

Stanley Jarl Alexander set his career goal in the eighth grade to study medicine. He graduated from UCLA, before his acceptance to USC School of Medicine. He interned at Boston City Hospital under the Tufts University service and did his residency and fellowship in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic. He is the recipient of an award for his lifetime achievement in medicine from AMA, the American Medical Association. He received the Best Doctor in the San Gabriel Valley annual award in Rheumatology for numerous years, and too many additional awards to mention. He practices rheumatology in Southern California.

Dr. Stanley Alexander

 

Dr. Alexander recently celebrated his 90th birthday and is humbled that “Flower” still brings so much joy.

After generations of people around the world grew up watching the film, in 2011, the Library of Congress included “Bambi” as one of the iconic films added to the National Film Registry.

Congratulations to the animators, who painstakingly sketched the film by hand and gave Bambi, Thumper, Flower and the rest of the characters movement, to the storytellers and cast and crew, and to Walt Disney for his genius and vision.

Thank you to the National Film Registry and the Library of Congress for recognizing “Bambi.”

 

The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Library of Congress.

Gail Alexander is a screenwriter and author, who resides in Southern California with her husband, Dr. Stan Alexander. At the age of six, Stan was the beloved voice of “Flower” in Walt Disney’s “Bambi” (1942). Stan went on to become a renowned physician and writer. Gail and Stan created and wrote the newsletter, “Doctors Matter” serving physicians in the San Gabriel Valley. In retirement, Gail and Stan continue to write non-fiction and fiction novels and enjoy spending time with their six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

 

For more information about the National Film Registry and to nominate films for consideration, visit www.loc.gov/film

 

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