Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meeska Mooska Mouseketeer

The original Mickey Mouse Club aired in 1955. How sweet the little mice were, but in reality it was big show business and the kids were forced to grow up in a hurry. It was the second television series by Disney and helped finance and promote the building of Disneyland.
When the producers started casting for the roles, Disney specifically instructed them not to hire professional types. He didn't want the Shirley Temple look, he wanted real kids.
The lucky ones who made the final cut were required to sign contracts for a year for a weekly salary of 185.00. That was to be a flat rate and not a dime of extra money was paid to do photo shoots, publicity appearances and recording sessions. The option was that you and your attending parent could be dropped if your conduct in the studio was less then mannerly and polite.
Annette Funicello wanted to change her name, but Disney wouldn't let her. He was convinced the name Annette would always be remembered.
Some of the mice never made it past 2 weeks or so. Dallas Johnson was fired for crying when the camera was on him and Paul Peterson was cut for punching a casting director in the stomach. Mickey Rooney Junior and his brother were canned for wrecking havoc in the paint department.
Only a few of the mice achieved great fame. Annette Funicello went on to star in the Beach Party movies, Bobby Burgess became a dancer on the Lawrence Welk show and Sharon Baird was the person inside the Charlie The Owl costume on the New Zoo Review. Cubby O'Brian worked with the Carpenters and the Carol Burnett Show as a talented drummer.
Remember the Mousketeer roll call when each mouse would introduce themselves? At the end, I would call out my own name while watching the show in my "mouse ears."
Jimmy Dodd was the host and head Mouseketeer and Roy Williams, who was a staff artist, was the big Mousketeer.
After 4 years, the show was canceled. Believe it or not, Disney studios were not making a profit on the merchandise. After cancelling, ABC refused to let Disney air the show on another network. So, a law suit was field, Disney won, but he had to agree not to air the Mousketeer Club or Zorro on any other network.
Wow, that's alot of cheese. Now put on your mouse ears and enjoy a clip from the end of the show!


Pardes said...

Lord you are killing me with these memories. First Ding Dong School and now the Mickey Mouse Club. I never missed a single episode of either program; but I was addicted to the Spin & Marty story on the Mickey Mouse Club.

I'd like to say those were simpler times, more gentle times, but we know that it was only a different time.

Still, there was something so naive about children's shows then. Or maybe I'll still just naive...

timoteo said...

At the age of 12 (she was 12 too) Annette was my first love. I really only tuned in the show to watch her. Mesmerized as I was, I remember nothing else about the show.

Jai said...

Ha!Love the Mickey mouse Club... Jimmie....?How old do you think he was then?... I always felt funny about him because he looked like an adult standing there with his hands and legs crossed... holding himself in... website looks great!