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Margaret Kerry was the inspiration for and self-proclaimed alter ego of Walt Disney's Tinker Bell character. Kerry, who will make a stop here to tell Tinker Bell tales, has a daughter who lives in Duluth. Bob King/rking@duluthnews.com

Disney's Tinker Bell is real, and she's in Duluth on Saturday

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When Margaret Kerry says she is "flying" somewhere to talk about her career, you might think of fairy wings flapping at a hummingbird's speed and a glittery jet stream of pixie dust.

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Almost 60 years ago, Kerry was the original reference model for the famous Disney sprite Tinker Bell, featured in "Peter Pan." Kerry, whose daughter lives in Duluth, is in town from the Glendale and Burbank, Calif., area for a two-part fundraising event Saturday at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, 506 W. Michigan St.

Talk to Tink is from 1:30-4:15 p.m. Kerry will tell Tinker Bell tales and will be available for photographs and autographs. Children who come dressed as their favorite Peter Pan character get into the museum free. The cost is $10 for those 14 and older; $5.50 for children ages 3-13. Later, ride the Pixie Dust Express -- the North Shore Scenic train -- for a cocktail party and birthday party with the actress. Tickets are $25 for those 14 and older, $15 for children 3-13.

Kerry, who considers herself Tinker Bell's alter ego and who said Tinker Bell is a blonde icon, stopped by the News Tribune on Wednesday to talk about her 76-year career in show business, which has included spots on television shows including "If You Knew Susie" (1948), "The Ruggles" (1949-52), "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960-61), 600 cartoon voiceovers, and a radio talk host on the program "Ministry Loves Company" on KKLA-FM, a Christian station in Los Angeles.

Her autobiography "Tinker Bell Talks: Tales of a Pixie Dusted Life" will be available soon.

On her early career

"I caused the Depression. I was born in 1929 and everything went downhill from there. I was cute as a bug, making $8.50 a day and 50 cents for car fare. I had a talent for dancing, acting and being over-dramatic, so they found me."

The making of Tinker Bell

Kerry auditioned with choreography to "Fixing Breakfast," as well as miming landing on a mirror and preening.

"I stood there and said: 'What kind of personality do you want to give her?' She [Tinker Bell] was just a line drawing." Kerry said she continues to share the upbeat and cute personality of her cartoon likeness.

On the Tinker Bell tattoos fans show her

"I have many wonderful fans who love Tinker Bell. I had one lady who had Tinker Bell tattooed on her ankle and she said it saved her life. She weighed 300 pounds and she was just a little taller than me. She'd had two ankles replaced and was so depressed. She thought: 'Who will make me think happy thoughts?' "

The woman would look at the tattoo to cheer herself up, Kerry said. Sometimes, she said, she is surprised by who is wearing the tattoo: "When you see a hulk lean over and talk to you, and there is a Tinker Bell on their arm..."

Not always a blonde icon

"Tinker Bell started at Disney Studios being a brunette, then a redhead, but they didn't like the red hair against the green foliage and at the last minute turned her into a blonde," Kerry said. No one told the publicist, however, and in early appearances, Tinker Bell was referred to as "the little red-headed pixie."

Does she have her own Tinker Bell collection?

"I have never collected it. Lovely people have given me many things, then after a while, I sign it and find a silent auction."

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