The Peter Pan statue is located in front of the Weatherford Public Library at 1214 Charles Street, near Soldier Spring Park in Weatherford, Texas.
The statue is a bronze likeness of actress Mary Martin as the ever-youthful character of Peter Pan, a role she made famous on Broadway and two TV presentations of the play – one in 1955 and then again in 1960. Mary Martin won Tony Awards for performances in “Peter Pan” and later, “The Sound of Music.” She continued in the 1960s with successful touring roles.
Sculpted by Ronald Thomason and cast by Metz Castleberry, the statue was dedicated on July 4, 1976. A plaque at the base of the statue reads: “A tribute to the genius of Weatherford’s Mary Martin who brought a myth to life for America’s millions.”
There was an exhibit containing some original music scores, costumes, and other memorabilia on Ms. Martin within the Weatherford Public Library, but these items have since been incorporated into the Doss Heritage and Culture Center.
Years earlier, another statue was dedicated to Mary Martin. It was placed in Cherry Park at 300 S. Alamo Street not far from Martin’s childhood home at 314 W Oak Street. According to one source, back in the 1970s, some Mineral Wells students tore the fiberglass statue down.
A September, 1963 newspaper article recorded this information about the statue dedication in Martin’s hometown of Weatherford, Texas:
Today most of Weatherford’s 15,000 residents will gather in Cherry Park, a block from her former home, to dedicate a statue of Peter Pan in her honor.
Mayor Jack H Borden has declared a town holiday, and proclaimed ‘ Mary Martin Peter Pan Day.”
Mary Martin won’t be in Weatherford as the high school band entertains with some of her most famous numbers. She’s in Detroit, second and last stop for “Jennie” before the Broadway opening in Oct. 17th. Critics have pointed out many flaw in the musical since its first showing in Boston.
Her daughter, Heller 21 who appeared in the New York production of “Peter Pan” with her mother will address the crowd as the statue is unveiled. She’ll read a portion of Mary Martin’s unfinished autobiography in which the talented actress describes what living in the small Texas town as a child meant to her.
Weatherford, 25 miles west of Ft. Worth, has constructed a six foot stone pedestal from which the 10-foot statue of Peter Pan will look down on passersby and playing children. The plaque below the statue reads: Peter Pan – A tribute to the genius of Weatherford’s Mary Martin who brought a myth to life for America’s millions”
Mary Martin made her theatrical debut at the age of five in the annual Weatherford Fireman’s Ball. A few years later, in the town’s only movie house, she first saw – Peter Pan” in the silent film starring Betty Bronson.
Peter Pan gave her an opportunity to display all her singing, dancing and acting abilities, and the history of show business is likely to record that the story of the child who refused to grow up was Mary Martin s most famous and lasting role.”
Born December 1, 1913, Mary Martin Halliday, died of cancer at her home in Rancho Mirage California on November 3, 1990. Her cremated remains (cremains) are interred in Weatherford. She shares a headstone with her husband, Richard Halliday, and they are both buried with Mary’s parents in the Martin family plot in City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas.
Mary Martin is the mother of Larry Hagman, TV actor best remembered by the public for his starring roles as J.R. Ewing in “Dallas” (1978) and as Major Tony Nelson in “I Dream of Jeannie” (1965). Upon his death he was cremated; ashes scattered at the Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas.
NOTE: Peter Pan first appeared in a novel by James M. Barrie called “Little White Bird” (1902). His exploits continued in the books “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” (1906), and “Peter and Wendy” (1911). Peter Pan’s companion in Never Land was a pixie fairy named Tinker Bell.
Over the years, other Peter Pan statues have been erected around the world, the most famous being by sculptor, Sir George Frampton (1860-1928).
Located at Kensington Gardens, London, the statue was commissioned in 1912 by J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan stories. Frampton based his bronze flute-playing Peter Pan on photos of Barrie’s friends’ six-year-old son, Michael Llewelyn Davies. Barrie also borrowed Michael’s name and those of his siblings for characters in the Peter Pan stories. Another Peter Pan statue by Sir George Frampton is located in Sefton Park, Liverpool. It was unveiled in 1928 and restored 2005.
Two Peter Pan statues of note in the United States are located in Camden, New Jersey and in the Charles Shurz Park in New York City.
The first is located in Johnson Park, at the intersection of Cooper Street and North Front outside the Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center in Camden, N.J . On Sept. 24, 1926, Eldridge Johnson, president of the Victor Talking Machine Company, which later became RCA, presented the statue to the children of the area, and the story goes that what he had intended to be a lily pond was converted into a wading pool after a slew of children jumped in it before the lilies had been added. During the presentation celebrations, 3,000 school children participated in a pageant acting out scenes from “Peter Pan.” The statue is one of seven statues created by Sir George Frampton of London, England. The others are located in:
- London, England: Kensington Gardens 1912.
- Brussels, Belgium: Egmont Park, 1924.
- St. John’s: Bowring Park, 1925.
- Perth, Australia: Queens Gardens, 1927.
- Liverpool, England: Sefton Park, 1928.
- Toronto: Glenn Gould Park, 1929.
The second statue of note resides at the Carl Schurz Park at the East End Avenue and 86th Street in New York City, New York. The bronze likeness of Peter Pan lives in the northeast of the park, set in a circular courtyard, with benches and shrubbery surrounding it. The statue of the slender youth in his feathered cap and belted tunic held court in the middle of a garden since 1975. Charles Andrew Hafner (1889-1960) created this bronze sculpture of Peter Pan in 1928 for a fountain in the lobby of the old Paramount Theater in Times Square.
Sadly in August 1998, unknown vandals dislodged the thousand pound statue from his base. The statue was subsequently recovered by the New York Police Department from 50 feet below the surface of the East River near Gracie Mansion. There were no suspects, indeed, as Parks Commissioner Stern said at the time, “We thought his only enemy was Captain Hook.”
Weatherford Public Library
1214 Charles Street