Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Tribute to Tinkerbell

Born Virginia La Buna in Brooklyn, New York, on June 26, 1904, of Italian parents, the actress is best known for playing J.M. Barrie’s “Tinkerbell” in the original 1924 screen adaptation of “Peter Pan.”

Virginia used her stepfather’s name of Brown when she entered “The Fame and Fortune” contest organized in 1919 by the fan magazine “Motion Picture Classic.” The organizers felt that Brown was too common a name, and so gave her the name of Virginia Faire. When Virginia discovered that there was already an actress named Elinor Fair, she decided to reclaim Brown.

Virginia had already some screen experience as an extra in New York, and when the judges saw a screen test, she was the obvious winner. Virginia was apprenticed to Universal, and she was given Western two- reelers. Virginia did make one five reelers, “Under Northern Lights” (1928), but she broke the contract with Universal.xx Robert Brunton, who owned the Brunton studios became Virginia’s personal manager, and he produced “Without Benefit of Clergy” (1921), in which Virginia has the leading role. The film was called an artistic triumph, and it gave Virginia the recognition for better parts.

While she was occasionally under contract to major studios, including First National, Virginia fared better as a freelancer. There were lesser features such as “Thundergate” (1923), “The Lightning Rider” (1924) and “The Thoroughbred” (1925), as well as major productions, including “Monte Cristo” (1922), “Romance Ranch” (1924) with John Gilbert at Fox and “The Temptress” (1926) with Greta Garbo at MGM.

In all, Virginia made credited appearances in more than forty silent films.

 Virginia did not find the transition to sound easy, despite a most pleasing voice. Onscreen, Virginia played the maid in Frank Capra’s production of “The Donovan Affair” (1929). Virginia continued to act through 1934, generally in Westerns, including three directed by Duke Worne, whom she married in 1930, after an earlier marriage to cowboy actor, Jack Dougherty. Her marriage to businessman William Bayer later in the 1930’s marked an end to Virginia’s screen career.

 In all, Virginia appeared in seventy-four films between 1920-1935.

Virginia died on June 30, 1980 of cancer. She was seventy-six years old.

It's interesting to note that on the set of Peter Pan (1924) Virginia had the opportunity to meet Rudolph Valentino, and he spent a lot of time with her mother on the set talking in Italian, and she was very fond of him.


  1. Silent, I have never heard of the beautiful, Virginia Brown, but.. I would love to see her version of the well known character Tinker bell.

    Thank you for your review.

  2. Dawn, Virginia played the role of Tinkerbell in the first version of Peter Pan (1924). It's a delightful film that also features Betty Bronson and Esther Ralston. This film is available on dvd.


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