Tuesday, November 5, 2013

And yet more Tink

My new favorite Tinker Bell story comes from an episode of "This American Life" I heard on NPR over the weekend. While a lot about the disaster performance of Peter Pan it described entertained me--from the Captain accidentally flinging his hook into the audience, to the flying apparatus dumping the children on the stage and dragging them through a field of papier-maché mushrooms, to the fire department response to one of the Indians spraining both ankles descending a rope ladder--my favorite part was an actual choice by the stage director. She chose to represent Tinker Bell with a light bulb on an extension cord, which would descend from above to be addressed by the cast. I still laugh every time I picture it.

And now here's Mindy Johnson's new book, "Tinker Bell: An Evolution," which explores in depth how Disney's version of the character came to be. Apparently everyone really is interested in the pixie. Surely Tink would be gratified at the attention.

A question I've had, which has been answered by the book: Tinker Bell was originally named Tippytoe and had speaking lines, but J.M. Barrie decided chimes would provide a better voice for her. One of the bells that traveling tinkers used to call customers to their wagons was used for this purpose in an early stage production, which led to her name and presumably to her trade in Barrie's book Peter and Wendy. I find it hard to imagine her now as anything other than a pots and pans fairy.


  1. How did Barrie's play handle her coarser language when she had a speaking part? I confess to some surprise to learn this.

    1. Maybe that's a reason he decided on the bell--to give him more freedom with her character. For that matter, some of the characters changed a good bit as production on the play progressed. Perhaps the bell was the crucial element to the development of the character as we know her now.

      I suppose I'll end up getting the book, since these questions keep popping up. ;-)

    2. I'd love to get a chance to read it, myself. Tinker Bell is by far my favorite character in the Peter Pan stories. I almost even watched some of the Disney "Tinkerbell" series (though I quickly regained my senses when I realized that it would just be more Disnified morality tales; plus the fact that Tinkerbell is not really Tinker Bell, if you take my meaning).