Mickey Mouse Club, The
About This Show
The Mickey Mouse Club is a long-running American variety television show that began in 1955, produced by Walt Disney Productions and televised by the American Broadcasting Company, featuring a regular but ever-changing cast of teenage performers. The Mickey Mouse Club was created by Walt Disney. The series has been revived, reformatted and reimagined several times since its initial 1955–1959 run on ABC.
The 1950s series
The Mickey Mouse Club was Walt Disney's second venture into producing a television series, the first being the Walt Disney anthology television series, initially titled Disneyland. Disney used both shows to help finance and promote the building of the Disneyland theme park. Being busy with these projects and others, Disney turned The Mickey Mouse Club over to Bill Walsh to create and develop the format, initially aided by Hal Adelquist.
The result was a variety show for children, with such regular features as a newsreel, a cartoon, and a serial, as well as music, talent and comedy segments. One unique feature of the show was the Mouseketeer Roll Call, in which many (but not all) of that day's line-up of regular performers would introduce themselves by name to the television audience. In the serials, teens faced challenges in everyday situations, often overcome by their common sense or through recourse to the advice of respected elders.
Mickey Mouse Club was hosted by Jimmie Dodd, a songwriter and the Head Mouseketeer, who provided leadership both on and off screen. In addition to his other contributions, he often provided short segments encouraging young viewers to make the right moral choices. These little homilies became known as "Doddisms". Roy Williams, a staff artist at Disney, also appeared in the show as the Big Mooseketeer. Roy suggested the Mickey Mouse ears (Mouseke-ears or Mouseket-ears) worn by the cast members, which he helped create, along with Chuck Keehne, Hal Adelquist, and Bill Walsh.
The main cast members were called Mouseketeers (a play on "musketeers"), and they performed in a variety of musical and dance numbers, as well as some informational segments. The most popular of the Mouseketeers comprised the so-called Red Team, which consisted of the following:
* Annette Funicello
* Tommy Cole
* Darlene Gillespie
* Cheryl Holdridge (joined in second year)
* Bobby Burgess
* Doreen Tracey
* Cubby O'Brien
* Karen Pendleton
* Lonnie Burr
* Sharon Baird
* Nancy Abbate
(Cubby and Karen were initially Meeseketeers because they were the youngest of this group)
The remaining Mouseketeers, consisting of the White or Blue Teams, were Don Agrati (later known as Don Grady when starring as "Robbie" on the long running sitcom My Three Sons), Sherry Alberoni, Billie Jean Beanblossom, Johnny Crawford, Dennis Day, Eileen Diamond, Dickie Dodd (not related to Jimmy Dodd), Mary Espinosa, Bonnie Lynn Fields, Judy Harriet, Linda Hughes, Dallas Johann, John Lee Johann, Bonni Lou Kern, Charlie Laney, Larry Larsen, Paul Petersen, Lynn Ready, Mickey Rooney Jr., Tim Rooney, Mary Lynn Sartori, Bronson Scott, Michael Smith, Jay-Jay Solari, Margene Storey, Ronnie Steiner, Mark Sutherland and Don Underhill. Dennis Day was a Mouseketeer for two seasons; the others served for shorter periods. Larry Larsen, on only for the 1956-57 season, was the oldest Mouseketeer, being born in 1939. Among the thousands who auditioned but didn't make the cut were future vocalist/songwriter Paul Williams and future actress Candice Bergen.
Other notable non-Mouseketeer performers appeared in various dramatic segments:
* Tim Considine
* Tommy Kirk
* Roberta Shore a.k.a. Jymme Shore
* Steve Stevens, (not to be confused with musician of same name)
* David Stollery
* Judy Nugent
* Kevin Corcoran, a.k.a. Moochie
* J. Pat O'Malley
* Sammy Ogg
* Alvy Moore
* Julius Sumner Miller as "Professor Wonderful"
These non-Mouseketeers primarily appeared in numerous original serials filmed for the series, only some of which have appeared in reruns. Certain Mouseketeers were also featured in some of the serials, particularly Annette Funicello and Darlene Gillespie.
Major serials included the following:
* Spin and Marty (three serials, starring Tim Considine and David Stollery in the title roles)
* The Hardy Boys (two serials, starring Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk)
* Corky and White Shadow, starring Darlene Gillespie
* Walt Disney Presents: Annette, starring Annette Funicello
* Adventures in Dairyland, also called An Adventure in Dairyland, featuring Funicello and Sammy Ogg, and introducing Kevin Corcoran as Moochie
* Jiminy Cricket educational serials (four Animated serials educating kids on various topics).
The opening theme, "The Mickey Mouse March," was written by the show's primary adult host, Jimmie Dodd. It was also reprised at the end of each episode, with the slower it's-time-to-say-goodbye verse. A shorter version of the opening title was used later in the series, in syndication, and on Disney Channel reruns. Dodd also wrote many other songs used in individual segments over the course of the series.
Each day of the week had a special show theme, which was reflected in the various segments. The themes were:
* Monday - Fun with Music
* Tuesday - Guest Star
* Wednesday - Anything Can Happen
* Thursday - Circus
* Friday - Talent Round-up
Scheduling and air times
The series ran on ABC Television for an hour each weekday in the 1955–1956 and 1956-1957 seasons (from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. ET), and only a half-hour weekdays (5:30 to 6:00 p.m. ET) in 1957–1958, the final season to feature new programming. Although the show returned for the 1958–1959 season (5:30 to 6:00 p.m. ET), these programs were repeats from the first two seasons, re-cut into a half-hour format. The Mickey Mouse Club was featured on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Walt Disney's Adventure Time, featuring re-runs of The Mickey Mouse Club serials and several re-edited segments from Disneyland and Walt Disney Presents, appeared on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Although the show remained popular, ABC decided to cancel the show after its fourth season, as Disney and the ABC network could not come to terms for renewal. The cancellation in September 1959 was attributable to several factors: the Disney studios did not realize high-profit margins from merchandise sales, the sponsors were uninterested in educational programming for children, and many commercials were needed in order to pay for the show. After canceling The Mickey Mouse Club, ABC also refused to let Disney air the show on another network. Walt Disney filed a lawsuit against ABC, and won the damages in a settlement; however, he had to agree that both the Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro could not be aired on any major network. This left Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (later retitled the Wonderful World of Disney) as the only Disney series left on prime time until 1972, when The Mouse Factory went on the air. The prohibition against major U.S. broadcast network play of the original Mickey Mouse Club (or any later version) became moot when Disney acquired ABC in 1996, but no plans have been announced for an ABC airing of any version of The Mickey Mouse Club produced between 1955 and 1996 or for a new network series.
 Australian tour
Although the series had been killed in the United States, many members of the cast assembled for highly successful tours of Australia in 1959 and 1960. The television series was very successful in Australia and was still running on Australian television. The cast surprised Australian audiences, as by then they had physically developed and in some cases, bore little resemblance to the young cast with whom Australians were so familiar. Television did not reach Australia until 1956 so the series screened well into the sixties when the back catalogue expired.
However, in response to continuing audience demand, the original Mickey Mouse Club went into edited syndicated half-hour reruns that enjoyed wide distribution starting in the fall of 1962, achieving strong ratings especially during its first three seasons in syndicated release. (because of its popularity in some markets, a few stations continued to carry it into 1968 before the series was finally withdrawn from syndication). Some new features were added such as Fun with Science, aka "Professor Wonderful" (with scientist Julius Sumner Miller) and Marvelous Marvin in the 1964–1965 season; Jimmie Dodd appeared in several of these new segments before his death in November 1964. Many markets stretched the program back to an hour's daily run time during the 1960s rerun cycle by adding locally produced and hosted portions involving educational subjects and live audience participation of local children, in a manner not unlike Romper Room.
In response to an upsurge in demand from baby boomers entering adulthood, the show again went into syndicated reruns from January 20, 1975, until January 14, 1977. It has since been rerun on cable specialty channels Disney in the U.S. and Family in Canada. The original Mickey Mouse Club films aired five days a week on the Disney Channel from its launch in 1983 until the third version of the series began in 1989. The last airing of the edited 1950s material was on the Disney Channel's "Vault Disney" from 1997 to September 2002.
Almost all of the original Mouseketeers were reunited for a TV special in 1980, which aired on Disney's Wonderful World in November of that same year.
Several original Mouseketeers performed together at Disneyland in the fall of 2005, in observance of Disneyland's 50th birthday, and the 50th anniversary of the TV premiere of The Mickey Mouse Club.
1970s revival, The New Mickey Mouse Club
In the 1970s, Walt Disney Productions revived the concept but modernized the show cosmetically, with a disco re-recording of the theme song and minority cast members. The sets, though colored, were simplistic, lacking the fine artwork of the original. Like the original, nearly each day's episode included a vintage cartoon, though usually color ones from the late 1930s and onward.
Serials were usually old Disney movies, cut into segments for twice-weekly inclusion. Movies included Third Man on the Mountain, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones and its sequel The Monkey's Uncle (both starring Tommy Kirk), Emil and the Detectives (retitled The Three Skrinks), Tonka (retitled A Horse Called Comanche), The Horse Without a Head (about a toy horse), and Toby Tyler (starring Kevin Corcoran). In addition, one original serial was produced, The Mystery of Rustler's Cave, starring Kim Richards and Robbie Rist.
Theme days were:
* Monday - Who, What, Why, Where, When and How
* Tuesday - Let's Go
* Wednesday - Surprise
* Thursday - Discovery
* Friday - Showtime (at Disneyland, with performers usually at Plaza Gardens)
Troubled syndication run
The series debuted on January 17, 1977, on only 38 local television stations in the United States, and by June, when the unsuccessful series was discontinued, only about 70 stations in total had picked up the series. Additional stations picked up the canceled program, which continued to run until January 12, 1979; 130 new episodes, with much of the original material repackaged and a bit of new footage added, and a shortened version of the theme song, were produced to start airing September 5, 1977. The series has not had more than token reruns, unlike its 1950s predecessor, and while both the 1950s and 1990s series had DVD releases in July 2005, the 1970s series seems forgotten except by that short generation of youthful viewers for whom it defined the Club.
The cast had a more diverse ethnic background than the 1950s version. Several 1970s cast members went on to become TV stars and other notable icons.
The show's most notable alumna was Lisa Whelchel, who later starred in the NBC television sitcom The Facts of Life before becoming a well-known Christian author. Mouseketeer Julie Piekarski (born St. Louis, 1964) also appeared with Lisa Whelchel on the first season of The Facts of Life. Kelly Parsons (born Coral Gables, Fla., 1965) went on to become a beauty queen and runner-up to Miss USA. Shawnte Northcutte (born Los Angeles, 1965) appeared once on Facts of Life. Billy 'Pop' Attmore (born at US military base in Landstuhl, West Germany, 1965) appeared in a few movies before and after the series, a fifth-season episode of The Brady Bunch ("Kelly's Kids"), and as a streetwise hood in the short-lived Eischied crime drama. Nita Dee appeared at the tail end of an episode of Fantasy Island.
Other Mouseketeers from the 1970s show:
* Scott Craig — born in Van Nuys, California, in 1964; lived in Las Vegas, died December 30, 2003.
* Nita Dee (Benita DiGiampaolo) — born in Long Beach, California, 1966
* Mindy Feldman — born in Burbank, California, 1968, and sister of Corey Feldman.
* Angel Florez — born in Stockton, California, 1963; died April 25, 1995.
* Allison Fonte — born in Anaheim, California, 1964
* Todd Turquand — born in Hollywood, California, 1964
* Curtis Wong — born in Vancouver, British Columbia, 1962
Theme song and soundtrack
The lyrics of the Mickey Mouse Club March theme song were slightly different from the original, with two additional lines: "He's our favorite Mouseketeer; we know you will agree" and "Take some fun and mix in love, our happy recipe."
A soundtrack album was released with the show.
This incarnation was not distributed by Disney alone; while Disney did produce the series, it was co-produced and distributed by SFM Entertainment, which also handled 1970s-era syndication of the original 1950s series (Disney since regained sole distribution rights).
1990s revival, the All-New Mickey Mouse Club (MMC)In 1989, The Disney Channel revived the show with a different format, which was very similar to other popular shows of the time like You Can't Do That on Television or Saturday Night Live. The show structure was originally developed by Walt Disney Television in the mid-1980s.
Scheduling and air times
The series aired Monday - Friday, 5:30PM ET during Seasons 1–5. In season 6, the show was on from Monday to Thursday at 5:30PM. In its final season, it aired Thursdays only at 7:30PM. The show premiered Monday, April 24, 1989, ended production in 1994, and ran reruns until Thursday, May 31, 1996. The series was also syndicated to local television stations throughout the United States and Canada. Seasons 3, 5, and 7 had the most episodes. Seasons 4 and 6 were shorter, having about 35 episodes each.
The long version of the new show's title was The All New Mickey Mouse Club, but it was more commonly called MMC. Recorded before a studio audience at the Disney-MGM Studios, now Disney's Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as it featured teens from all races. The show was a mix of live skits, recorded comedy, and songs. The Mouseketeers did their own versions of popular songs live and in music videos. Emerald Cove was a recurring soap opera-type segment starring Mouseketeers and several actors who exclusively appeared on these segments, which aired three times a week for 10 minutes.
Five members of the show (Damon Pampolina, Tiffini Hale, Chase Hampton, Albert Fields and Deedee Magno) broke off and formed the musical group The Party, and released four full-length albums. The group produced radio hits with the Dokken cover of "In My Dreams" and with "Summer Vacation."
The show would be the starting point for several American pop superstars and actors. The fourth season introduced viewers to Matt Morris, JC Chasez and Golden Globe-winning television actress Keri Russell. The sixth season featured future Grammy Award-winning singers Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera and future Academy Award-nominated actor Ryan Gosling. Jessica Simpson and Countess Vaughn were finalists but did not make it onto the show.
The only Mouseketeers who appeared each season from the first until its cancellation in 1994 were Lindsey Alley, Jennifer McGill, and Josh Ackerman, with Tiffini Hale and Chase Hampton back for the final season.
Theme days and other notable episodes
In 1990, as part of Season 3, six former Mouseketeers Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Don Grady, and Annette Funicello made a special appearance, actually participating in some skits and a couple of musical numbers. They were presented with 1990s MMC jackets. Annette thanked everyone very much and told the new Mouseketeers that the Club is in good hands because of all of you.
Theme days were as follows:
* Music Day - Mondays (Seasons 1-5), Tuesdays (Season 6)
* Guest Day - Tuesdays (Seasons 1-5), Mondays (Season 6)
* Anything Can Happen Day - Wednesdays (seasons 1-5), was not used in Season 6
* Party Day - Thursdays (Seasons 1-4, 6), Fridays (season 5)
* Hall of Fame Day - Fridays (Seasons 1-4), Thursdays (Season 5), Wednesdays (Season 6)
(Note: In Season 7, the show was shown on Thursdays only, therefore, no theme days were used.)
 Full cast of 1990s Mouseketeers
* Josh Ackerman (1989-1994)
* Christina Aguilera (1993-1994)
* Lindsey Alley (1989-1994)
* Rhona Bennett (1991-1994)
* Nita Booth (1991-1994)
* Mylin Brooks (1990-1992)
* Brandy Brown (1989-1990)
* Jason Blain Carson (1991-1992)
* JC Chasez (1991-1994)
* Braden Danner (1989)
* Tasha Danner (1991-1992)
* Nikki DeLoach (1993-1994)
* T.J. Fantini (1993-1994)
* Albert Fields (1989-1990, 1991 as part of the Party)
* Dale Godboldo (1991-1994)
* Ryan Gosling (1993-1994)
* Tiffini Hale (1989-1990, 1991 as part of the Party, 1994)
* Chase Hampton (1989-1990, 1991 as part of the Party, 1994)
* Roqué Herring (1989)
* David Kater (1989)
* Tony Lucca (1991-1994)
* Ricky Luna (1990-1994)
* Tate Lynche (1993-1994)
* Deedee Magno (1989-1990, 1991 as part of the Party)
* Jennifer McGill (1989-1994)
* Terra McNair (1991-1992)
* Ilana Miller (1990-1994)
* Jason Minor (1990-1992)
* Terri Misner (1991-1993) (Adult co-host)
* Matt Morris (1991-1994)
* Fred Newman (1989-1993) (Adult co-host)
* Kevin Osgood (1989-1992)
* Damon Pampolina (1989-1990, 1991 as part of the Party)
* Mowava Pryor (1989-1990) (Adult co-host)
* Keri Russell (1991-1993)
* Britney Spears (1993-1994)
* Justin Timberlake (1993-1994)
* Marc Worden (1990-1994)
Who Talked About This Show
Video: Watch roll call with the Mouseketeers from The Mickey Mouse Club:
- Tommy Cole on co-starring on The Mickey Mouse Club
Clip begins at: 00:01, Duration: 14m 29s
- Robert Justman on working as second assistant director on The Mickey Mouse Club
Clip begins at: 20:58, Duration: 03m 00s
- Tommy Cole on the cancellation of The Mickey Mouse Club and on working with Disney's later Mickey Mouse Club ventures
Clip begins at: 14:47, Duration: 12m 13s
- Thomas Moore on how ABC and Walt Disney partnered; how the Barbie doll was advertised on The Mickey Mouse Club
Clip begins at: 03:15, Duration: 05m 57s
- Thomas W. Sarnoff on NBC's losing out to ABC in negotiations to air Disney's new shows
Clip begins at: 11:15, Duration: 02m 24s