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A Life In Show Business

Starting work at the age of four, Margaret was originally named Peggy Lynch until she landed the part of the teenage daughter of Eddie Cantor and Joan Davis in the comedy-musical "If You Knew Susie." Thirteen years before, director Gordon Douglas had cast her as a dancer and actor in "The Little Rascals." Now, he assigned her a spectacular dance number staged by Nick Castle and Charlie O'Curran titled "My Brooklyn Love Song." Mr. Cantor, searching for weeks for a new stage name for his "winsome daughter" decided on Margaret Kerry. The new name came just in time for the movie's credits.

While working on the movie, Margaret graduated high school with honors. Years later, she would return to Los Angeles City College and graduate cum laude. Leaving RKO, she headed for Fox to handle assistant dance director duties on the super musical "I'll Get By," starring June Haver, John Payne, Gloria DeHaven and Dennis Day.

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A Ruggles-Rat

 

After performing in dozens of TV shows, Margaret starred as co-host/performer in "Teleteen Reporter" on Channel 13 in Los Angeles, which ran for over two years. At ABC-TV, she was featured in the musical "Let There Be Stars" and in Art Baker's "Stop, Look and Listen." "The Charlie Ruggles Show," one of the first network television family sitcoms, cast Margaret as the eldest daughter, Sharon. America watched her grow up over the years on their television sets. The final episode was her wedding and honeymoon—a major media event.

Margaret Lands the Role of Tinker Bell 

Walt Disney was searching for a nimble mime/dancer/actor to be filmed performing live-action work for the tiny Tinker Bell in the animated feature "Peter Pan." Margaret won the role and became the reference model for the three-inch sprite. Famed animator Marc Davis drew Tinker Bell's antics based on Margaret's acting. She also performed the voice of the red-headed mermaid in the movie.

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A successful voice-over career ensued, using Margaret's skills in 21 different dialects and 48 various character voices in over 600 animated shows. She is the voice of Spinner and Paddlefoot and the females in the famous vintage "Clutch Cargo" animated series. "Captain Fathom" and "Space Angel" followed. Margaret can also be seen in many of the hilarious live-action segments that open and close the 139 episodes of "The New Three Stooges," as well as be heard in the animated portion voicing all the kids, females, and various odd characters.

Margaret Moves on to Radio

Margaret later produced her own radio show called "What's Up Weekly" at KKLA 99.5—the most listened-to Christian talk radio station in the world. In 1993 she became the station's Community Services Director, and she also headed up the Southern California Buyers Network, a program linking 100+ sponsors to over 200 non-profit organizations, allowing the group to earn money for charities.

Margaret continues to be in demand as a keynote and motivational speaker, communications trainer, storyteller and humorist. A certified seminar leader by the American Seminar Leaders Association, she is also co-author and facilitator of the FUNdamentals of Speaking Seminars.

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Some people don't remember that Walt Disney was a handsome man. Some people don't remember he was family man. Some people simply don't remember there was a real person named Walt Disney. That must never happen! Tom Hanks, in the film Saving Mr. Banks, truly brought Mr. Disney back to life again … the Walt Disney I met and remember.

After seeing the movie (loved it) I thought back to a really interesting question I was asked during an interview on an ABC-TV talk show. I was asked, "…so, what does your alter ego, Miss Tinker Bell, really think about Walt Disney?"

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The question stuck with me … "What would Tink think of Walt Disney?" She'd certainly find him interesting, quite handsome and certainly an excellent conversationalist. Well, she worked with him on TV every week. When Tink flies into Walt Disney's office in the opening scenes of The Wonderful World of Disney, you see an expression of wonderment and joy on her face. She was with her magical Uncle Walt … well, the young actors at the studio called him Uncle Walt so why wouldn't Tink? I was being interviewed because I'm the original animator's reference model of Tinker Bell for Disney's film Peter Pan.

 

I would be filmed acting out all of Tinker Bell's scenes … her temper tantrums, her walk, her jealousy, her personality … and that work would be given to different artists who animated her scenes. Of course, I was guided and directed by the legendary Marc Davis who designed the lovely little creature. Being cast as Tinker Bell's alter ego was the reason I was being interviewed … she is the reason I met Walt Disney.

As we all watched Walt Disney on TV each week he made us feel deep down that he was a modern day Merlin when, with a just a gesture, he'd conjure up an hour of magic just for us. He was the kind of role model for a perfect Uncle-figure who could give us the world. And every week, he'd bid Tinker Bell to take us all on an adventure to another place … another time. They were a pair … Tink, her wand tipped with magic Pixie Dust, and Uncle Walt with his own personal supply of Fairy Dust.

I was just out of my teens and working on Sound Stage One on the Disney lot, when I got to meet Mr. Disney … several times. He'd amble over to the Tinker Bell team to chat for a moment with the camera and lighting crew, Marc Davis, then … with me. My reaction was somewhat like Tinker Bell's … the one James Barrie described when he wrote about seeing her reflection for the first time in a mirror on Wendy's dresser … so pleased but a little startled.

Charming is the first word that comes to mind when I think back to those moments. Interested is the second word. He was a good listener. Quite slim, casually but handsomely dressed, he was really better looking than his photos. Much to my delight, he did not play the part of a high-and-mighty Hollywood mogul studio head.

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Those thoughts ran through my head after seeing the Saving Mr. Banks film. Tom Hanks caught all of that and more. The complex man, Walt Disney, came through loud and clear. I know Tinker Bell loved it, too.

 

And, year after year, as I go about my business, someone will say, ‘I'll bet you get tired of the Tinker Bell bit’. No, I'll never get tired of the fact that my name along with the name of the beguiling Tinker Bell …Walt Disney, James M. Barrie, Peter Pan, and Disneyland … can be written in the same sentence. It's a blessing from above. How could anyone ever get tired or become blasé with a gift like that … it is still so … so magical.

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