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July 23, 2014

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You can’t be Peter Pan forever

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Steve Marcus

Hairstylist Bob Wyman-Cahall has surrounded himself with memorabilia reminding him of his years playing Disney characters such as Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh.

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Bob Wyman-Cahall, who sports a Tinker Bell tattoo, went on to become a professional dancer and ice skater, performing with City Lights and Nudes on Ice, and touring with the Ice Follies and the Ice Capades. He says his most memorable work, however, was at Disneyland.

Bob Wyman-Cahall spent his youth chopping garlic in central California. These days he’s chopping — well, styling — hair at one of those big storefront franchise clip joints.

The Tinker Bell tattoo on his shoulder hints at some fascinating years in between.

Before working with scissors and spray, Wyman-Cahall was a principal dancer for City Lights and Nudes on Ice, and toured with the Ice Follies and the Ice Capades. His childhood skills as a roller skater transferred nicely to ice skates.

But he did his most memorable work after he was hired, at 18, to dance in Main Street parades at Disneyland. Within a year, he was playing Peter Pan, posing for pictures, signing autographs and telling stories to wide-eyed youngsters.

When his chest thickened, he had to abandon the ageless boy for costumed characters.

His favorite was Brer Fox. Wyman-Cahall would hang out next to the piano player at Coke Corner and sway to the Dixieland jazz like some cool cat. People snapped pictures while he tapped his big feet.

Pooh was a more difficult character because Wyman-Cahall had to tuck his arms into the bear’s oversize head.

That proved problematic the day he was messing around with Tigger and Eeyore, fell off a bench and didn’t have any arms for leverage to stand back up. While he flailed on the pavement, a little kid came by, peered into his honey pot, saw Wyman-Cahall’s own wide eyes and screamed.

He and his costumed colleagues would occasionally attract mischievous punks looking to cause grief. The Disney playbook called for the characters to summon help from security or even fellow performers — Brer Bear, Capt. Hook or whoever was nearby — by clicking an SOS with the taps on their feet.

Wyman-Cahall, however, developed an alternative.

“You’d hug the kid real tight and whisper in his ear, ‘Kid, knock it off or I’ll throw you out of the park.’ ”

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