It’s a rainy Monday morning and I’ve just completed a color sketch of the delightful little sprite, Tinkerbell. Perhaps Peter Pan’s teeny-tiny companion can bring a little sunshine into this cloudy, gloomy day. It will probably be no surprise when I tell you I remember character reference model, Margaret Kerry pretty well. And yes, I also remember when Margaret looked pretty much like this. She had to do visual reference for director, Clyde (Gerry) Geronomi and directing animator, Marc Davis. Sure, there were other young women including Ginny Mack who also contributed to the final look of Tinkerbell. However, there’s no doubt in this animators mind that Margaret Kerry was the key model. Take a good look at Tink. She even looks like Margaret Kerry.
The model for Walt Disney’s Tinkerbell was very much a part of old Hollywood and boy does she have stories to tell. Margaret was even pals with Hollywood legend, Marilyn Monroe and describes the glamorous movie actress as kind, gentle and sweet. Although the beautiful actress could never get to an appointment on time. However, there are more stories to tell. You probably didn’t know that Margaret Kerry was married to producer, Dick Brown. Mr. Brown had a movie facility in West Hollywood just a skip and a jump from fashionable Beverly Hills and this is where he produced a number of television series. I’ll bet you didn’t know that this facility was home to another famous production company back in the sixties. This is where comedian, Bill Cosby and a group of renegade animators developed and created the initial “Fat Albert” television special. For nearly a year we made this production facility our home as we collaborated with the famous comedian. Margaret Kerry worked here as well. Some years earlier she lent her considerable talents to the television show, “Clutch Cargo.”
Today, Margaret Kerry is in her eighties but she’s still as energetic and bouncy as the cutsie teenager in the swimming suit. The Disney animators didn’t have a costume ready for Margaret on the initial day of filming so the resourceful Ms Kerry wore her own apparel. It you’ve ever had the opportunity to see the Tinkerbell visual reference footage it’s clear that animator, Marc Davis was inspired by the film footage. So much of Tink’s attitude is pure Margaret and it’s fun to watch she goes through her paces as the jealous, petulent little sprite. Margaret often describes Tink as, “curvy.” If you’ll remember in the Walt Disney movie, “Peter Pan,” Tink also has body issues. This is compounded when she finds herself unable to squeeze through the keyhole in a jewel box. It’s all in good fun of course, and the little fairy remains a delight to sketch even to this day. Keep spreading the pixie dust, Tink. Decades have passed but you’re still magical.