A Pixie Is Born
Contrary to what you may have read in a popular trivia game, Walt Disney's original Tinker Bell was NOT based on screen siren Marilyn Monroe. In reality, the saucy pixie was based on singer-dancer-actress Margaret Kerry.
Although chosen for her dancing and pantomime abilities, Margaret actually did a lot of acting for the role. "The pouting and anger were fun to do," she recalled in an interview with Libby Slate for Disney Magazine. "The wonderful directors (animators Marc Davis, Wilfred Jackson and Gerry Geronimi) would communicate so quickly, and if not, they would draw a sketch.
"Tinker Bell was isolated on a great big soundstage that went on forever. There was no one for me to react to... I had to conjure up everything," Margaret said.
The cute, curvy character of Tinker Bell, seen in the movie “Peter Pan,” was a creation of Marc Davis who was already famous for creating young Bambi, Thumper, and animating Cinderella and Cruella de Vil among others.
He developed many of the beloved Disneyland attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and It’s a Small World. Davis is a Disney Legend and one of Disney’s Nine Old Men.
Using the footage of Margaret’s live-action work as a reference, Davis and his team of animators brought the little sprite to life and into the hearts of people everywhere.
Today, anyone who has met Margaret can still see the famously independent pixie-like person with her small frame, sparkling eyes and happy laugh. Margaret recognizes herself readily as did her late husband, Jack Willcox. While viewing the film Peter Pan, Jack leaned towards her and said, “Margaret, I’d recognize those thighs anywhere.”
Click here to view some of the memorable moments from Margaret's performance as Tink, with notes and interviews from Margaret herself!