A Pixie-Dusted Debut
Final Frame of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan
2/5/53 – On this day, a particular imp made her animated motion picture debut! After nearly 15 years of development and exploration, Walt Disney's animated-take on J.M. Barrie's tiny Tinker Bell underwent a wide range of possible permutations: a dazzling redhead; a demure brunette; a dainty bell-bustled ballerina; and more — Miss Bell finally found her final form thanks to a perky blonde-bobbed member of the Walt Disney Studio's Ink & Paint Department.
Early Tinker Bell Concept Designs
As an artist, Ginni Mack painted on many films from the mid-1940s thru the debut of Peter Pan in early 1953. When asked to pose for animators as inspiration for a 'pixie,' Ginni's obliging efforts formed the basis for the one and only Tinker Bell. "I would sit on a chair and they said, 'Just put your hands on your hips, look up or down,' that sort of thing." Ginni completed several sessions with the animators as they explored this character's form and folly. Today, Tinker Bell's pixie-dusted magic is still going strong - nearly 65 years later.
Roy Williams sketches studio Ink & Paint Artist and original model for Tinker Bell – Ginni Mack. Tinker Bell's lead animator, Marc Davis.
The voice actress for "Wendy," then a sprite 12 year old, Kathryn Beaumont did the first live-action reference for Tinker Bell. Marc Davis designed Tink "as a little girl from the waist up, and a woman from the waist down." To complete this magic blend, several young models, including Margaret Kerry, were brought in to provide the final amount of live-action reference work.
The women behind Tinker Bell: Alice Davis (wife of Marc Davis), Mae Whitman (the voice of Tinker Bell), Kathryn Beaumont (voice of 'Wendy,' & Tinker Bell live-action reference Model), Margaret Kerry (live action reference model), Marge Champion (early live-action inspiration), and Ginni Mack -— original model for Tinker Bell.
Ginni was later part of the teams of female artists who returned to save animation at Disney Studios, on the production of Pete's Dragon. This launched an extended career for Ginni as she stayed on for nearly 15 years and became part of the first wave of digital artists trained at Disney Studios. Ginni's 'Tink'-talents were re-discovered with new-found fame before she passed in 2017.
Thanks to the talents of so many over 65 years ago, Tinker Bell keeps flying straight into the hearts of fans all over the world!