For some, their chosen profession is a family legacy. Such is the case with the original Disneyland Records “Disneyland Storyteller,” Ginny Tyler.
Born Merrie Virginia Erlandson in Berkeley, California, on August 8, 1925, Ginny grew up in a Native-American family near Seattle, Washington. There, her family passed along the storytelling craft, as well as the imitation of animal sounds and birdcalls. Ginny’s flair with these talents first put her before the radio microphone in the 1940s, and by 1951 she was hosting her own daily children’s show on KOMO-TV, Magic Island. She was also getting more and more work off-screen for her vocal talents, and in 1957 Mother Goose flew south to Hollywood.
One of her first jobs after landing was playing Olive Oyl on a Spike Jones recording of “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,” and work on more novelty records quickly followed. By the early 1960s, she had joined the Disneyland Records stock company, narrating beloved vinyl recordings of Bambi, Babes in Toyland, Hans Brinker, and More Mother Goose.
When the original Mickey Mouse Club was re-edited and repackaged for syndication in 1962, Tyler was appointed Head Mouseketeer, live from Disneyland. A Mickey Mouse Club Headquarters was constructed inside the Main Street Opera House, later home to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, where Ginny hosted a live 15-minute daily segment of the program. Children could also register as “Official Mouseketeers,” complete with membership card, and Ginny, often in the company of Roy Williams or Jimmie Dodd, was on hand for greetings and autographs.
Ginny’s vocal work gradually moved from just narration to character voices for Disney.
She played two amorous female squirrels in The Sword in the Stone and sang for several of the barnyard animals in the “Jolly Holiday” sequence of Mary Poppins.
For other studios, Ginny was “Casper, the Friendly Ghost” in his 1963 TV series, space-damsel Jan and the Black Widow in Space Ghost, Sue Richards in The Fantastic Four, Flirtacia the Lilliputian in The Adventures of Gulliver, and all the female characters in the first 13 episodes of Davey and Goliath.
Ginny provided the voice of Polynesia the parrot, who taught the good doctor how to talk to the animals in Doctor Dolittle. Along with frequent Disneyland Records co-star Dallas McKennon, she provided most of the other animal voices for that musical spectacular. Her parrot patois was also heard on The Jack Benny Show and The Lucy Show.
Her Disney days remain “the most awesome part of my life, and truly a ‘dream come true’!” Ginny once said. She remembered a day at Disneyland where she was waxing effusive about the many beautiful aspects of the Park with Walt. “And I was raving away to Walt how wonderful Disneyland was, he said, ‘And that goes for my Disneyland Storyteller, too.’ I have never felt prouder in my entire life.”
Ginny Tyler passed away on July 13, 2012.