The BAMBI award was brought into being in 1948. In a time when the fabric of everyday life was weaved from resignation and ruins, the symbol of the deer gave people hope.
Originally, the BAMBI was a film prize for which the readers of Filmrevue magazine chose their favorite big screen star. As TV sets found their way into more and more homes, it became an accolade for the small screen too. The first prize winner was Marika Rökk, whose daughter gave the adorable animal its name: “Oh my, that looks just like Bambi,” she cried when she set eyes on the award. In those days, the trophy was made out of white porcelain. The bronze fawn plated in 18-carat gold has been used since 1958.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the BAMBI award was extended to cover the full spectrum of the growing media world. Since that time, many others who have excited audiences or made the world a better place have joined the prize-winning actors and actresses. These include paparazzi-hardened VIPs as well as silent heroes, whose vision and courage are thrown into the spotlight by the golden deer.
Every year, the BAMBI features a star-studded line-up of German and international guests. Stars who have walked the red carpet in recent times include Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Keanu Reeves and Eva Longoria. At the 2005 award ceremony, none other than Bill Clinton was honored with the Charity BAMBI. In 2006, the deer statuette in the same category went to Queen Sylvia of Sweden. There was further royal interest the following year as Queen Rania of Jordan won the Honorary BAMBI for her involvement in humanitarian projects. Among the best-known prize winners of the previous decade were Muhammad Ali and Seal, both of whom proved a big hit backstage. In 2003, the great boxing champion showed off with magic tricks and shadow boxing. A year later, Seal sang a duet with his future wife Heidi Klum, proving as captivating behind the scenes as he is on stage.
The golden deer celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998. Among the prize winners at the glamorous gala ceremony in Karlsruhe was Marika Rökk – the first recipient of a BAMBI – who was honored with a special anniversary award. She even brought along her original statuette from 1948. The 60th anniversary in 2008 was celebrated in the Burda company’s home city of Offenburg.
You can never quite be sure who will receive the coveted BAMBI award. Some prize winners have taken home a veritable herd of these elegant animals. The Austrian singer Peter Alexander is a notable example in this respect, as is the German actor Heinz Rühmann, whose haul of twelve awards remains a record to this day.
The BAMBI award, like its animal namesake, is a wandering beast and has moved around a lot in recent decades. “BAMBI goes Monte Carlo” was the motto in 1970, as the prize winners celebrated with Princess Grace of Monaco. In 1972, the deer and its entourage traveled by steamboat to Mainau Island on Lake Constance. The awards ceremony has also been held in the Bavarian Alps and in the ticket hall of Munich’s main train station.
The BAMBI fawn statuette, which switched from porcelain to bronze at an early stage, has hardly changed at all in more than six decades. For the millennium, its look was modernized by the artisan foundry studios Strassaker in the Swabian town of Süßen. But otherwise, BAMBI has remained true to its original design – as Germany’s most prestigious media award.