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From the Land of Band Box Records

Annette, Cubby, Karen and Mickey…..

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….. were – in a way – the ‘Boomer’ generation’s (sorry Paul) seemingly first coming out party – but in fact – of the original nine solid “Blue Team” members – only two can actually be counted among our numbers.  Once again our dumb slightly older brothers and sisters were actually the first Mouseketeers.

(By the way, this is another Post that could get me pounded by – yes – the BARNUM GANG!)

Opening Number on the 1st Mickey Mouse Club TV Show – Oct 3, 1955

That would be the two little darlings – Karen Pendleton and Cubby O’Brien – two Mouseketeers who were often paired up in skits and musical numbers.  They were both born in 1946 – where the other seven were born generally in 1941 or 1942.

Howdy Doody pre-dated the Mouseketeers by many years – debuting soon after the end of World War II – in 1947.  It seemed to me at the time – that the Mickey Mouse Club series just ran on and on forever. But in fact it was a four year run initially – 1955 into 1959 – and then the adorable Mousketeers were off on their own.

The “Blue Team” was comprised of Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Lonnie Burr, Tommy Cole, Darlene Gillespie, Cubby O’Brien, Karen Pendleton, Doreen Tracey and yes – everyone’s favorite – Annette Funicello!

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There were many other Mouseketeers who were called on when larger production numbers demanded the numbers – and several notables passed through the ranks during those first four years including future stars in their own right – Johnny Crawford, and Paul Petersen (both ’55-’56), and Don Grady (’57-’58).

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Johnny Crawford with His Mickey Ears

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Crawford and Don Grady Together Again on The Rifleman

Two of Mickey Rooney’s sons – Tim and Mickey Jr. were there in 1955 and 1956 – the little Mice were fortunate indeed – having been chosen from more than 5,000 auditioning hopefuls!

Bigger Mouseketeers

The program’s adult hosts most often were Jimmie Dodd and Roy Williams – Williams seemed an unlikely choice but after a time – got used to his grinning face – Funny – can’t recall him ever speaking – but pretty sure he did.  Dodd did most of the talking.  He was called “Big Roy” on the TV program and started off his career with the Disney Studios as an artist.  Big Roy is credited with being the designer of the famous Mouseketeer ears!

He got his inspiration from a very early Disney cartoon titled “The Karnival Kid” from 1929.  In that animated short Mickey tips his ears to Minnie.

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A ‘Tip of the Ears’ to Minnie – 1929

Those ears have to-date sold over 85 million sets making it the biggest selling Disney souvenir of all time.

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While not fondly remembered by some fellow Disney staffers (artists) – apparently the young Mouseketeers were very fond of him.

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Of the three Mouseketeer adults – a third member – much lesser known was Bob Amesberry.  He grew up in Oregon and attended public school with singer Johnnie Ray.  He came on board with Disney as a skit writer and actor.  He was tragically killed in an automobile accident in November of 1957 while riding with fellow Mousketeer Roy Williams – He was 29 years old.

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Bob Amesberry

Adult Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd was always on an upper – sort of wore me out with his enthusiasm – Dodd has the distinction of being the composer of the “Mickey Mouse Club March” – a tune I have often marched to – right up to present times.  Dodd enjoyed a diverse and rich motion picture career prior to his arrival on the Disney set.  Dodd also composed a minor hit later for Annette – “Lonely Guitar”.

A regular segment on the show featured Dodd citing a biblical Proverb and then relating a life lesson to all the Mouseketeers – Can’t even imagine the outcry today that would bring.  Dodd passed away losing a battle with cancer while living in Hawaii – He was 54.

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Honorary Mouseketeers

Have to include both Dave Stollery and Tim Considine who were an inseparable part of the Mouseketeer cast appearing primarily as “Spin and Marty” joining with Annette and other children on the “Triple R” ranch.  Marty was a rich kid and Spin an athletic regular kid often at odds but finally coming together in the final episode.

Another Mickey Mouse Club feature – “The Hardy Boys” – again featured Considine along with Tommy Kirk

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Hardy Boy Tommy Kirk

Dancin’ Bobby Burgess

Bobby went on to enjoy a long career with the Lawrence Welk Show as a featured dancer.  He married Welk band member Myron Floren’s daughter Kristie in 1971 and the two remain happily married today!

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Our Annette

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And that brings us to everyone’s favorite Mouseketeer – darling Annette.  She was born in 1942 in New York and came to California with her family at the age of four.  Walt Disney himself discovered Annette at age 12 while she was performing with a dance troupe.

Annette passed away on April 8th, 2013 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis at age 70.

Revival Mousketeers

The Mickey Mouse Club experienced two revivals – the first in 1977 and then again in 1989.  Famed alumni included Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

Ryan Gosling / Britney Spears / Justin Timberlake

Mouse Theme Days

Obviously “Anything Can Happen Day” (on Wednesday) was my favorite Mickey Mouse Club Theme Day – but can you recall the other four?

Wednesday was “Anything Can Happen Day”

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Monday was “Fun With Music Day”

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Tuesday was “Guest Star Day”

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Thursday was “Circus Day” (not my favorite)

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Friday was “Talent Round Up Day”.

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Today

Of the original Mouseketeer “Blue Team” (or the “A” Team) all are living accept Annette and Doreen Tracey.  Dodd, Williams and Amesberry are all long ago gone, Walk Disney is gone – and Mickey Mouse – the mouse who built an empire for children (and adults) carries on – alive and well – now 91 years-old!

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Annette Selected Discography

Annette’s recording career commenced after the Mickey Mouse Club series ended.

45 – Disneyland 118 – Tall Paul – Charted Number 7 – January, 1959

45 – Buena Vista 336 – Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy – Charted Number 73 – April, 1959

45 – Buena Vista 339 – Lonely Guitar – Charted Number 50 – July, 1959

45 – Buena Vista 349 – First Name Initial – Charted Number 20 – October, 26, 1959 – Charted Number 27 R&B Charts – b/w My Heart Became of Age – Charted Number 74 – October 26, 1959

45 – Buena Vista 354 – Oh Dio Mio – Charted Number 10 – February 22nd, 1960

45 – Buena Vista 359 – Train of Love – Charted Number 36 – June 6th, 1960 b/w Tell Me Who’s the Girl – Charted Number 112 – May 16th, 1960

45 – Buena Vista 362 – Pineapple Princess – Charted Number 11 – August 15th, 1960

45 – Buena Vista 369 – Talk To Me Baby – Charted Number 92 – December 26th, 1960

45 – Buena Vista 374 – Dream Boy – Charted Number 87 – February 20th, 1961

45 – Buena Vista 375 – Indian Giver – Charted Number 107 – May 1st, 1961

45 – Buena Vista 802 – The Parent Trap – Charted Number 123 – June 5th, 1961 (with Tommy Sands)

45 – Buena Vista 384 – Blue Muu Muu – Charted Number 107 – August 21st, 1961

45 – Buena Vista 388 – Dreamin’ About You – Charted Number 106 – November 13th, 1961

45 – Buena Vista 394 – The Truth About Youth – Charted Number 121 – March 5th, 1962

45 – Buena Vista 414 – Teenage Wedding – Charted Number 142 – March 2nd, 1963

45 – Buena Vista 427 – Promise My Anything – Charted Number 123 – October 19th,  1963

This was Annette’s final single recording with friend Frankie Avalon – released in 1981 – seven years prior to her diagnoses

Annette Long Plays

LP – Mickey Mouse Club 24 – Other Songs from Walt Disney Serials – 1958

LP – Buena Vista 3301 – Annette – February, 1959

LP – Buena Vista 3302 – Annette Sings Anka – Charted Number 21 – March 21st, 1960

LP – Buena Vista 3303 – Hawaiiannette – Charted Number 38 – September 26th, 1960

LP – Buena Vista 3305 – Dance Annette – February, 1961

LP – Buena Vista 3316 – Annette’s Beach Party – Charted Number 39 – October 19th, 1963

LP – Buena Vista 3314 – Muscle Beach Party – April, 1964

LP – Buena Vista 3324 – Annette at Bikini Beach – September, 1964

LP – Buena Vista 3325 – Annette’s Pajama Party – October, 1964

More Mousketeer’s Selected Discography

45 – Disneyland 48 – Mousekartoon Time – 1959 (written by Jimmie Dodd)

45 – Official Mickey Mouse Club 51 – Fun With Music – 1955

45 EP – Official Mickey Mouse Club 52 – Fun With Music Vol. II – 1955

45 EP – Official Mickey Mouse Club 54 – Walt Disney’s Mousekedances – 1955

45 – Official Mickey Mouse Club 55 – Walt Disney’s Mouseketeers – 1955

45 – Official Mickey Mouse Club 56 – Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket Sings (with Mouseketeers) – 1955

45 – Official Mickey Mouse Club 58 – From Walt Disney’s Spin and Marty – 1955

45 EP – Official Mickey Mouse Club 67 – Westward Ho The Wagons! – 1957

45 – Official Mickey Mouse Club – Walt Disney’s Annette – 1957

45 – Buena Vista – The Mickey Mouse March by The Mike Curb Congregation – 1974

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