Kenyon Hall in West Seattle was filled with friends, family and memorabilia celebrating the life of Ginny Tyler, a Disney legend who was raised in West Seattle, on Oct. 27. PLEASE SEE THE PHOTO GALLERY BELOW FOR MORE.
Disney legend Ginny Tyler gives an encore performance in spirit at Kenyon Hall
Ginny Tyler, raised in West Seattle and later rising to entertainment prominence as a voice actor with KOMO in Seattle and later for Disney in Hollywood, passed away in July of this year at the age of 86, but is was apparent from the celebration of her life in West Seattle on Oct. 27 that her legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of family, friends and fans.
Kenyon Hall was transformed into Ginny’s Hall for an afternoon celebration that brought over 40 friends and relatives together, including several members of the Seattle-based Mountainears Disney Fan Club whom Tyler spent a lot of time with in her later years, thrilling them with her talent.
Nearly every square inch of wall space was adorned with memorabilia from the entertainer’s life and long-lasting career as a voice actor, originally as KOMO Radio’s Mother Goose in the 1950s later as the Chief Mouseketeer at Disneyland. Food was served, scrapbooks, photos and vintage Disney vinyl records were pored over, and memories were shared.
Tyler’s son Ty Fenton opened remarks on the day of light-hearted remembrance.
“In Hollywood in the late 60’s actors and actresses did things to protect their image and perception that they aren’t growing older,” Fenton said. “Mom was no different. About the time she changed her name (to Ginny Tyler), she somehow managed to change her birthdate on her driver’s license, making her five years younger than she really was.
“Back in 2007, it was time for mom to renew her driver’s license. Well, because of the Patriot Act your license and social security number are now linked. When she went to renew it up popped a red flag. There seemed to be an age discrepancy: busted. Mom got away with being five years younger for 40 years.”
“She … once told me, ‘To have good friends, you first have to be one,’” Fenton said. “I was deeply moved by the cards and emails from lots of people who were touched by mom’s laughter, advice, gentle spirit and friendship.”
Born Merrie Virginia Erlandson (Eggers) in 1925, Tyler grew up in West Seattle and attended West Seattle High School, graduating in 1943. Even then, she exhibited an unusual knack for sound effects and voices – she could make any numbers of characters come to life.
Childhood friend Nancy McPhee grew up with Tyler on the peninsula and shared early memories of her lifelong acquaintance.
“We met when I was in junior high school and Ginny came into the Fauntleroy YMCA and just kind of blew us all away,” McPhee said. “She always had a plan for us. We were going to do this, we were going to do that (many adventures followed) … I knew her all the way through, I miss her, and I’m glad that I was a friend of hers.”
Chik Blood traveled all the way from New Jersey to attend the celebration, and shared how he met Tyler while putting together an ad campaign with an oil company and Disney. He was amazed at her talent, energy, and ability to transform into any multitude of characters at a moment’s notice. They became friends instantly.
“Ginny was a barrel of laughs and a barrel of fun,” Blood said. He shared the memory of attending a show on the deck of the USS Yorktown ship. “Here comes this little thing out on the deck of that carrier, and she goes into her act and she’s whistling and telling people stories … and carrying on and the place is in hysterics and I thought, ‘That is quite a lady.’”
Illustrating Tyler's no-nonsense sass, Blood shared the story of driving down a Hollywood boulevard after a night out to dinner. They pulled up to a stoplight in their convertible and a man in a truck pulled up alongside, looked down and Tyler, and whistled (in the ‘phewt phew’ sense). She didn’t blush, she didn’t smile, “She looked up at him, and barked like a dog!”
It was a story that many echoed, how you never knew when Tyler would burst out into character (she had hundreds to choose from), whether she was ordering food or just trying to brighten someone’s day.
Fenton said his mom dealt with “full, knockdown, drag out, head-squeezed-in-a-vice type migraine headaches” throughout her career, and they would often hit right before a performance.
“It seems they would hit at the worst times, but each time she would somehow block the pain, gather herself and walk out on stage,” he said. “‘After all,’ she would always say, ‘the show must go on.’ And that is why we are here today.”
“She wanted the curtain to close with the audience wanting more.”
To read more about Ginny Tyler's life, please check out our prior coverage.
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