Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ginny Tyler

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
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.

Star of ‘Aladdin’ Always in Fine Voice
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.”
One-Woman Cast
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.


  1. She also did various voices on Gumby and was Flirtacia in the '68 HB version of Gulliver

  2. Thanks for sharing. As can be the case with voice actors, I was familiar with her characters but not her name. Glad I now know "the rest of the story." And she lived in my stomping grounds... That's kind of fun!

  3. Thanks, Raccoonr. I didn't know about Gulliver; I don't remember seeing it.
    Dan, this wasn't intended as a complete filmography or biography, so it's not quite "the rest of the story." For example, I skipped mentioning the Valley News of Van Nuys states that(Mar. 21, 1974) that Ginny was a "Scarget" Indian. I've never heard of the Scargets. I wonder if the story meant "Skagit," which is more appropriate to Washington State. And I couldn't find where the name "Erlandson" came from. But the notes posted are good enough for a brief sketch.
    A lot of very talented radio people came from the Seattle-Tacoma area. Gay Seabrook, Elmore Vincent and Art Gilmore immediately come to mind. I think the Niles brothers were from Seattle, too.
    A note was sent asking about the birth date provided since it conflicts with others on the internet. The source is the California Department of Public Health. I'll take that as a source than some Make-it-up-ipedia site.

  4. The Gulliver show ('68, later repackaged as part of Banana Splits) also featured Jerry Dexter (Gulliver), John Stephenson (Leech and King Pomp),
    Don Messick (Eager), Allan Melvin (Bunko) and Herb Vigran (Glum.. "we'll never make it...")

  5. RIP, Ginny Tyler..19??-2012. BTW It wasn't till some mintues after I';d first seen this article this morning that I realized that it was an obit. Thanks, Yowp.:) Nancy Wible was from Seattle,too.Steve

  6. What was the cause of death?

  7. I have no idea, Anon. The REPS blog doesn't reveal what happened and I have found nothing in the Seattle Times.
    Thanks, Steve. I didn't realise Nancy was from Seattle. I know nothing about her.

  8. Didn't know that Ginny did some crazy vocal embellishments for Spike and His City Slickers. I have a few of his albums, only Paul frees and Doodles Weaver get vocal credits, even though there are some crazy female vocals on a few cuts. Could be her. I remember her in " Davy and Goliath " and if memory serves, " Sue Richards " in " The Fantastic Four ". Sorry to hear of her passing. We've lost a lot of good ones lately. Yowp, thanks for recognizing her.

  9. Which one of the carhops was she; the brunette or the redhead

  10. She's the redhead, Daisy (Irving).

  11. One of my favorite (of many) songs from 'The Flintstones', ...Here we come, on the run, with a burger on a bun..." Ginny was a great part of many children's lives for years. Thanks to her for all of her talents.


  12. Ginny Tyler:
    May her memory be eternal!

  13. Ginny was my Aunt. I was able to visit her in the nursing home some time before she passed and she was funny as usual. I recall visiting her in LA when I was young and she introduced me to such films as Gigi and Dr. Doolittle which she played the voice of Polynesia. Whenever I need a laugh I just think of her.

  14. Ginny was a friend to our Disneyana club in Seattle. Here is one of her recordings on Disneyland records for my website: ST-1914 Greyfriar's Bobby