Peggy Lynch was born May 11, 1929 in Los Angeles, California. By the age of five, she was already performing in episodes of the Little Rascals and Our Gang film comedies. She was cast in the movie If You Knew Susie (1948) as star Eddie Cantor’s daughter. Even with a Hollywood movie shooting schedule, she graduated high school during the production of the film. Ironically in this film, she would share the silver screen with one of Disney’s newest stars—her younger brother in the film was played by Bobby Driscoll who was in between his Disney appearances in Song of the South (1947) and Treasure Island (1950).
During the filming of the movie, Cantor decided that Peggy needed a more theatrical name to stand out in the entertainment business and she officially became “Margaret Kerry”. In 1949, she started playing the role of the eldest daughter of actor Charlie Ruggles in an early television situation comedy entitled The Ruggles (1949-1952). During this time, her agent contacted her about doing the live-action reference modeling for the character of Tinker Bell for Disney’s newest animated feature in production, Peter Pan (1953). It was felt that with her extensive dance and movement background, including recently being the assistant dance director on the Fox feature, I’ll Get By (1950), she would be an ideal reference model for the playful fairy.
Today, in her personal appearances, Margaret wears a name tag that proudly proclaims “Original Tinker Bell”; she is also completing work on her anticipated autobiography entitled Tinker Talks: Tales of a Pixie-Dusted Life. Updated information on her book, as well as a great wealth of information, can be found on her website at: Tinker Bell Talks. There has even been talk of nominating the still perky Margaret for the Disney Legends award.
Margaret was with a notable Disney cast of live-action models for Peter Pan, including Kathryn Beaumont for Wendy; Hans Conreid and Henry Brandon for Captain hook; and Bobby Driscoll and Roland Dupree for Peter Pan. Margaret did double duty for the film, and along with Connie Hilton and June Foray, modeled for the mermaids. Sadly, the names of other live-action reference performers like the adorable Tiger Lily and the imposing Indian Chief seem to be lost in time (another Help Wanted?). Candy Candido did tell me once in an interview that the animators actually designed the Chief after his “voice”.
Margaret has some fascinating stories about doing the live-action modeling for Tink, and as such many in the historical community are anxiously awaiting her memoirs. She speaks highly of Disney Legend Marc Davis; she talks about how fun it was to do the anger and pouting Tink; and discusses the notion that Tinker Bell was based on Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe.
If you can’t wait for the upcoming release of the book, I highly recommend the upcoming edition of Didier Ghez’s most remarkable, most useful, most supreme, most intelligent, best-idea-in-Disney-history-since-Dave-Smith-founded-the-Archives, book series, Walt’s People. The next edition will feature an interview with Margaret Kerry by my good buddy, Jim Korkis. (You can order the series from the Disney History Institute Gift Shop at: Walt’s People.)