Tinkerbell and the Woman in Charge

Let’s talk Tink. Tinkerbell, that is. This is a cute little scene we did back in the fifties. Man! Has it been that long ago? Anyway, this rough Tinkerbell animation was created for television. I honestly can’t remember the exact project. Perhaps it was a Peter Pan television commercial because you’ll notice that the little sprite has undergone a bit of a make over. This is not the Marc Davis design we’re all familiar with. This redesign is by the noted Disney character designer, Tom Oreb. Tom was charged with designing the Disney characters for television. All this was done with Walt Disney’s permission, I might add. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing at the Disney Studio escaped the Old Maestro’s scrutiny.

Why would Tinkerbell have a redesign for television, you might ask? Well, these were the orders from our boss, Phyllis Hurrell, and that’s the important part of this story. You see, back in the fifties, the Walt Disney Studio was hard pressed for cash because Walt had just launched the theme park, Disneyland. The move to television opened an opportunity to earn some quick revenue with a television unit. And, who was put in charge of that unit? A woman named, Phyllis Hurrell. That’s right, boys and girls. That “gender bigot,” Walt Disney. It was Uncle Walt, the guy who denied opportunities to females actually put a woman in charge of a film unit to produce television commercials.

The commercial unit was extremely successful and provided a much needed revenue stream when the Walt Disney Studio truly needed it. Because this was such an important decision, I would guess that most studios would have put a man in charge, right? Remember, this was the nineteen fifties when women were just barely beginning to make their mark in the work place. Yet, Walt Disney handpicked a woman to run his critically important commercial division. Consider that for a moment, you Hollywood know it alls. Before you mention it, that’s not Tink’s bare bottom showing in the drawing. Unlike many of today’s Disney live-action girls, this young cutie is actually wearing underwear. You’ll notice Tink is doing a cute little walk and clapping her hands. If I recall, Tinkerbell model, Margaret Kerry did the poses and the action for us.

Finally, the most important bit of information I want you to remember in this post is our boss, Phyllis Hurrell. I had the pleasure of meeting her daughter only a few weeks ago and it was our first time meeting. I wanted her to know what a privilege it was to work for her mother, and that Ms Hurrell’s name is a name that should be known.

Now, you know it as well.

The Marc Davis' Tinkerbell was redesigned by Tom Oreb. We did new animation on the Disney sprite back in the fifties.

The Marc Davis' Tinkerbell was redesigned by Tom Oreb. We did new animation on the Disney sprite back in the fifties.