Q: The first Tinker Bell to fly in Disneyland was Tiny Kline. Can you tell me her age when Walt hired her? I have read that she was either in her 60s or 71. Do you know the date?
Debby, Oakdale, California
A [Dave Smith]: Circus performer Tiny Kline was 70 years old when she began flying as Tinker Bell over Sleeping Beauty Castle as part of the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks show on June 9, 1961.
In 1905, Kline immigrated to the United States with a dance troupe. She started as a burlesque dancer, but moved on to perform in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as Tiny Duchée. There, she met rodeo trick rider Otto Kreinbrink (stage name Otto Kline). Two years later, they married. When he died during a ride, she took over and learned acrobatic tricks, including the "aerial iron jaw act", where she would be suspended by the mouth on a long glide wire.
In 1961, Walt Disney began a search for a Tinker Bell to wow crowds at Disneyland. Kline was hired to glide down a wire connecting the Matterhorn to Sleeping Beauty's Castle. She retired and died in 1964.
In this video you can see Otto's tombstone:
"My family and I went to see my Great-great uncle: Otto Kline. He was married to Tiny Kline. Tiny was in the circus like Otto. She was also the first tinker bell (hired by Walt Disney) She also flew across Time Square hanging by her teeth."
- by ashleytisdale1207