The tale of the missing Peter Pan statue

A missing statue of Mary Martin as Peter Pan was thought to be found at an antique shop on the east coast, but turned out to be a styrofoam duplicate. The original statue, shown here in 1963 with Rhonda Bigham, was located at Cherry Park.

The long lost statue of Mary Martin as Peter Pan was thought to be found in an antique shop in North Carolina recently, but it was discovered to be a duplicate made from styrofoam.

The mystery of the statue, which used to stand in Weatherford’s Cherry Park, continues. 

Martin was born in Weatherford in 1913, and she became a famed Broadway actress who was most remembered for her role as Peter Pan.

The Cherry Park statue was one of two in Weatherford made for Martin’s Peter Pan character. The other is safe and sound at the Weatherford Public Library and is a more realistic depiction of Martin.

The missing fiberglass statue was donated to Weatherford in 1963 by the Peter Pan Peanut Butter Division of Derby Foods to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary. The statue was 10 feet and six inches tall.

Local historian Jon Vandagriff said Martin did not like the peanut butter company’s statue because it looked more like a cartoon than her.

The statue went missing twice in the 1970s and was returned once, Vandagriff said. The first time it was found by the Mineral Wells Police Department in the possession of high school kids. A few weeks after the statue was returned, it went missing again.

“I think it was probably the same thing,” Vandagriff said of the statue’s second disappearance.

However, it is unknown for sure what happened to that statue. Doss Heritage and Culture Center Museum Affairs Director Amanda Edwards said there have been numerous rumors, including ones about the statue being at the bottom of Lake Weatherford.

“People come in all the time and tell us all kinds of things, but we don’t have an accurate answer to what actually happened to it besides it went missing,” Edwards said. “It’s more like folklore at this point than actual news.”

When rumors of the statue’s appearance on the east coast started to arise on Facebook, Weatherford College Public Relations Coordinator Crystal Woerly called the antique shop to inquire about the statue. Woerly found out that while the statue was not the original given to Weatherford, it was used to promote or was in the 1960 “Peter Pan” movie starring Martin.

“If there’s interest in people bringing it back, I think a group of us can work on that,” Woerly said. “Even though it’s not the actual statue that was at Cherry Park, it does have a connection to Mary Martin, so that might make it worth having back here in Weatherford.”

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