She’s best known for her voice work on Disney cartoons and records, but she had a brief career at Hanna-Barbera as well.
Word has come from the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound blog that Ginny Tyler has passed away.
Ginny and Nancy Wible played airhead car hops in the first season of “The Flintstones” when Fred was suckered into buying a drive-in restaurant. Her career at H-B may go back farther than that. An unidentified woman is heard in two cartoons from Yogi Bear’s first season in 1958—“Daffy Daddy” and “Robin Hood Yogi”—and it sounds a bit like Tyler to me. She got credit in the 1966 Hanna-Barbera show “Space Ghost,” playing Jan. Some of her TV credits include “The Jack Benny Program” (as a parrot), “The Joey Bishop Show” (as a baby) and “The Lucy Show” (as a sheep). She won a role as a girl squirrel in Disney’s “The Sword in the Stone” when she deciphered this characterisation instruction from director Woolie Reitherman: “She doesn't speak words but chatters away in squirrel talk, like squirrels do, you know.”
Merrie Virginia Erlandson was born August 8, 1925 in Berkeley, California. Her parents were Erland A. and Harriet Ruth (Rittenburg) Erlandson, both from Bellingham, Washington. Her brother Donald was born about a year later in Seattle. Her mother got a divorce and married Theodore H. Eggers. Ginny graduated from West Seattle High School in 1943, attended Western Washington College of Education in Bellingham, then the University of Washington Drama School. She married Lowell Studley Fenton in Seattle on July 3, 1946 after he got out of the U.S. Navy. An article on their wedding in the West Seattle Herald mentions she was already “well known in radio and dramatic circles.” She told an old-time radio newsletter her first job on radio was a cold read in 1936. Her mother likely helped her get on the air. A 1999 Seattle Times column reveals Hatty Eggers, known professionally in the 1930s and ‘40s as Harriett Adair, played piano and whistled on stage and radio and with the Paul Whiteman Band. By 1947, Ginny was co-hosting (with Al Priddy) “Make Believe Island” on KOL radio and moved into TV in 1951 with a kids’ show on KOMO. Through the years, she staged children’s plays and taught acting to youngsters.
Ginny provided voices on recordings by the wonderful Spike Jones. She also appeared in “The Maltese Bippy.” Well, we all have our duds.
Here’s a column about her from the National Enterprise Association, dated December 7, 1964.
Versatile Voice Keeps Ginny Busy
BY ERSKINE JOHNSON
HOLLYWOOD - The crow of a rooster down on the farm gave Ginny Tyler a career in show business.
What's her line?
Ginny suspects she could even stump those expert panelists.
Who ever heard of an attractive young lady with a talent for vocal imitations of dogs, cats, birds and most of the animals from the aardvark to the zebra?
Well, now you have, because that’s Miss Tyler’s line.
Even a Worm
She collects three figure salary checks for vocal imitations. When not barking, chirping or howling on cue for television shows, she also imitates crying babies, little boys and several dozen cartoon characters. She even provides the squeaky little voice of a worm — the early worm on a Los Angeles rise and shine TV show.
What’s more, she does her job so well she once even received a fan letter from Walt Disney.
The letter arrived after she invented a new language — “Squirrel talk” — for one of his movies. For Ginny it was easy.
She has been imitating birds and animals all her life. “Naturally talented,” she laughs, in saying that she was only 10 when she imitated that rooster’s crow on her grandfather’s farm near her home town of Seattle, Wash.
Works With Lucy
Normally she performs her odd vocalizing off camera and directly to a sound track, which cutters then match to film. But now and then she is hired for a show such as Lucille Ball’s, which is filmed with an audience. For “Lucy Gets The Bird,” to be seen on CBS-TV Monday night, Ginny is the voice of the talking bird which motivates the plot. Not wanting her to be seen, the show’s producer hid Ginny, along with a microphone, under the bleachers where the spectators sit. It was the only place where she could remain unseen yet still have a view of the stage to await her cues.
“It was comfortable," she quips, “but almost a disaster—several pairs of ankles kept getting in my way.”
Joins Walt Disney
As a University of Washington student, Ginny told kiddie stories featuring her trick voice on a Seattle TV station. Then Disney heard about her and brought her to Hollywood as hostess on the Disneyland portion of his Mickey Mouse Club. “For a year,” she says, “I was LIVE from Disneyland.”
For pretty Ginny, always heard, seldom seen, the year was a happy one.
She uses her trick voice occasionally for laughs away from the cameras. When a fellow wolf-whistled at her one day on a Hollywood street corner, Ginny Tyler gave him the surprise of his life.
She BARKED back.
“A wolfhound bark, naturally,” she laughs.
And this is from the Pasadena Star-News, November 5, 1964.
CHILDREN LOVE IT
Star of ‘Aladdin’ Always in Fine Voice
By RAY DUNCAN
The ability to chirp like a cricket, while dressed like a mouse, is one of several talents which have made Ginny Tyler famous among children.
But children hereabouts are accepting her performance at Pasadena Playhouse in “Aladdin and His Genii,” in which she is neither mouse nor cricket. She is the 2,000-year-old genii who merges in a cloud of smoke from the wonderful lamp when it is rubbed by Aladdin.
For more than a year she wore mouse-ears as a hostess and story-teller on Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club on television. She also wore the word “Ginney” [sic] written across her sweater. One of her specialties, as a story-teller, was imitating assorted voices and sounds of birds, animals and insects, especially crickets.
Crickets and Weather
She says that her studies of the sounds made by real crickets convinced her that the chirp proportionally faster as the weather grows hotter. From this data she developed a theory which may someday go down in scientific history — perhaps as Ginny’s Law.
If says “If you count the number of chirps a cricket makes in a minute, divide that number by two, and then add 20, you will have the temperature.”
She insists that it really works. Not all of her work has been that weighty. She had done many voices and irreverent noises for Spike Jones and his orchestra, the noted madmen of music. She has also done hundreds of saner sounds for Disney movies, for other cartoon makers and recording groups, and for a long procession of television commercials. Not merely her voice, but all of her, recently appeared in a major role in the movie “The Sword and the Stone.”
She got her start in show business, and simultaneously worked her way through college in Seattle, by enacting all the voices on a radio story-show for children. Sometimes she was a one-woman cast of 20 or 30 characters, whom she also directed from her own script.
She is almost equally involved in “Aladdin,” which is being offered as a richly-costumed, fully-staged production with more that 30 players on the Playhouse stage. She is co-author of the script, and she has one of the two starring roles with Derrik Lewis. She sings, dances, and acts, but she gets to use only one of the approximately 900 voices and accents she is known to command.
Ginny lived in North Hollywood, then Toluca Lake before returning back home to the Pacific Northwest, the same area where Doug “Doggie Daddy” Young retired and the one-time home of the lovely Janet Waldo. You can read a bit about her in the Issaquah newspaper from a couple of years ago HERE and THIS column in the West Seattle Herald.