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AlbertJayNock

Urban Legends and an Excellent Web Adventure

Another topic that came up in my conversation with my brother was movies we had seen together as a kid.
Our  family had seen Bambi at a drive-in and I remember him being quite upset at the death of Bambi's mother.

I'd mentioned this  to him, and he told me an interesting story. He said that after Walt Disney had bought his mother a house after he had first made his fortune, and it was later destroyed by a fire that also killed her. If true,this could have inspired the mother's death and the forest fire in Bambi.

He wasn't 100% sure that the story was true, and we agreed that the story had the aroma of urban legend about it.

Today I went looking around the internet for anything that might provide a confirmation or a debunking of the story. I was amazed at how little turned up in either direction.

I did a google search with the keywords "disney mother fire" and didn't find much of anything. Well, nothing related to that story. I found  this rather amusing web page.

I tried doing a  search with the same key words at snopes.com and came up empty.  I didn't find any references on the films page either, but I did find some interesting and TRUE urban legends about Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Napoleon Dynamite, and The Wizard Of Oz.

So Snopes was of little help. I went to The Internet Movie Database. I looked up Bambi and searched through the trivia there and couldn't find anything. I noticed it was directed by a man named David Hand and wondered if he was related to the famous judge Learned Hand. (The one person I have met with the same last name was related, so it's not such a stretch.) So I got sidetracked into doing a search for  "David Hand" and "Learned Hand" and found nothing to indicate they were related. Although I did discover from this web site that Judge Hand was a folk singer and that recordings of him exist.

I tried the imdb page for Walt Disney himself and couldn't find anything. Although on the biography  page I saw that his personified animals are believed by many to be penance for killing an owl when he was a child.

His mother, Flora Disney, has a page on IMDB (there is archive footage of her in some documentary.) There is not as much trivia about her. I notice that the cause of her death is listed as "asphyxiation from a faulty furnace". And it was in 1938, 4 years before Bambi was released.
Many people who die in fires asphyxiate before they burn to death, so she could have died in a fire. So it looks like the incident likely happened as described. The causal relationship is a lot harder to firmly establish, but the proximity of dates strongly suggests it. If I was running snopes.com I would
probably give this story a green bullet (or at least a yellow one.)

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