My wife Marlesa and I recently saw the Wes Anderson film, “Moonrise Kingdom.” It really brought back a lot of memories to both of us about growing up in the 60′s. Most notable were the scenes with the children listening to “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” on an old portable record player. This theme was repeated several times throughout the movie. When one of the characters runs away from home she ‘borrows’ her brothers’ record player – leaving him an IOU – and takes it with her. I remember those pre-ipod days of absolutely longing to carry my records wherever I went.
My parents gave me an allowance growing up, and almost all my money went into buying vinyl 45s. I can remember going to the downtown Sears and Roebuck store and shuffling through children’s records till I found one I couldn’t live without. These particular records didn’t have the big hole in the center that required a plastic spindle insert like other 45s, but instead were shaped with small hole in the center, just like a full-sized vinyl LP.
Most of what I collected were stories based on Disney movies or recordings of their characters singing songs. Many of these records featured a particular female voice that I can still hear in my mind. It was the voice of Ginny Tyler, one of the Disneyland Storytellers.
Tyler was born Merrie Virginia Erlandson and adopted her stage name Tyler when she started out in radio. She moved on to become host of a children’s show in Seattle, Washington. Around 1950, she moved to Los Angeles and started narrating albums for Disney. During that time she made friends with Art Clokey and became part of the group that made the breakthrough stop motion animation cartoon “Gumby.” Tyler voiced several characters on the children’s show. This lead to another stop motion animation cartoon popular in the 60′s called “Davey and Goliath.”
Disney tapped Tyler to narrate short films for the “Mickey Mouse Club” in the 1960′s. She would take older footage and update it with her more modern voice. Also for Disney she voiced the two female squirrels in “The Sword in the Stone” (1963) and sang several parts of animated animals in “Mary Poppins” (1964). A large movie role came for Tyler in 1967 when she worked alongside Rex Harrison in “Doctor Dolittle.” She voiced the part of Polynesia – the parrot who spoke over two thousand languages (including Dodo and Unicorn.)
I will fondly remember her for the super-hero cartoons of my childhood. In 1966 she worked for two seasons on Space Ghost. Tyler played the voice of Space Ghost’s sidekick Jan who was always the damsel in distress. Switching gears, she was also the female villain Black Widow. In 1978 she voiced Sue Richards aka The Invisible Girl in The Fantastic Four cartoon.
For years Ginny Tyler’s voice was a part of my life.
After the movie ‘Casper’ came out on DVD, I wanted to turn my children onto the old Casper TV shows from the 1960s. As we settled down with the popcorn and I hit the play button on the DVD player, I was pleasantly surprise to find the sweetly not-too-scary voice of Casper done by none other than Tyler. A haunting voice from my childhood that I’ll always remember….