The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Mickey Mouse Club Serials: Adventure in Dairyland


This short dramatic serial was salvaged from the wreckage of the What I Want To Be project and used the same theme music. It featured a mix of Southern California and Midwest actors, including the studio's rising star, Annette Funicello, a popular second lead, Sammy Ogg, and a new discovery, Kevin Corcoran. Broadcast twice in the second and fourth seasons, it was released for syndication in 1964-65 and again in 1976, then was shown several times on the Disney Channel during 1983-88.

Synopsis

Walt Disney interrupts a class at the Disney Studio schoolroom, where Mouseketeers and serial actors are being taught by Miss Ross. He talks about the importance of dairy farming to the country, and asks who would be interested in learning more? Annette and Sammy volunteer, so they are sent off to Wisconsin as guests at a working farm.

Jim McCandless and his wife have two teenagers, Jimmy and Linda, and little Moochie. The five of them run their Wisconsin dairy farm with the help of handyman Paulie, who's a bit of a character (Hmm, sound familiar?). They're excited to meet their television star guests. In honor of the occasion, Moochie goes out to collect frogs, but nearly gets collared by an angry bull. Big brother Jimmy rescues him, setting the stage for the first of many Moochie moments to come.

Sammy and Annette take to their hosts right away, and soon settle into the routine of farm life. They meet Moochie's pet chicken, admire Mrs McCandless' flower garden, and are amazed to see how Paulie yodels to call the cows into the barn for the night. Jimmy shows Sammy the machinery used for automatic cow milking, and they watch the local veterinarian cure a calf made sick by eating paint from Moochie's forgotten brush.

The days pass quickly as Annette and Sammy learn how to do new chores around the farm. At a 4-H dance held in their honor, they admire the polka dances and European folk singing of the local farm folk. They also entertain them with their own dancing, and make the McCandless kids honorary Mouseketeers. When the parents go to Madison to shop, the kids take care of the farm, improvising a way to run the milking machinery when a storm knocks out the electricity, and helping a newborn calf.

After Annette and Sammy return to California, the McCandless family watches the Mouseketeers on television perform Edelweiss Polka, and are delighted to see Sammy show off the yodeling he learned from Paulie.

Episode Guide

Episode         Orig Air Date
           
Off to Wisconsin         Nov 05, 1956
Moochie's Escape         Nov 06, 1956
The Trouble with Pigs         Nov 07, 1956
The Runaway Tractor         Nov 08, 1956
The Case of the Deadly Paint Brush         Nov 09, 1956
The Turning Point         Nov 12, 1956
The Kids Take Over         Nov 13, 1956
The Storm         Nov 14, 1956


Notes

In September 1955, one month before the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on television, the Disney Studio sent a magazine-like supplement to school districts around the country, touting the educational programming to be featured on the new show. One of these features was to be an on-going set of serials examining future careers for kids, called What I Want To Be. The first series was to be about airline careers, the second series would be about modern dairy farming. The idea for this project was the brainchild of Stirling Silliphant, who came up with it before being hired by the studio.

Silliphant's idea envisioned a sole major sponsor for each career in the series, who would not only underwrite the costs, but who would also provide logistical support and personnel (including cast members) for what would presumably be its area of expertise. Thus TWA was signed up to sponsor Airplane Pilot, Airplane Hostess, while the American Dairy Association agreed to handle The Dairy Farmer. The first serial was well-received in October 1955, and the ADA looked forward to its turn in the spotlight. But Walt Disney and Stirling Silliphant had a major falling out, which ended with the latter leaving the studio.

After Walt Disney fired Silliphant, the project was cancelled, possibly to avoid legal problems over ownership of the original concept. However, since the ADA was an important sponsor, both for the show and Disneyland, Disney didn't want to offend them by completely backing out of the arrangements they had made. There was also a matter of studio pride; schools and teachers had already been informed they would be seeing a series on dairy farming. So writer Lillie Hayward and director William Beaudine Sr put a new story together, working in the short time frame before they were to start on The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty. How much was used, if any, of Silliphant's original ten-episode storyline is unknown.

The new serial was given the working title of The Dairy Story, signaling a shift of emphasis away from the occupation. The advance crew, with four large trucks from the Burbank studio full of generators, cameras, kleig lights, costumes, and props, arrived at the Dr. Ira Sisk farm, overlooking the Sugar River in Verona, Wisconsin, on June 4th, 1956. A society page announcement for the upcoming wedding of Dr. Sisk's daughter spilled the beans in print on June 6th. The following evening, when the chartered airplane carrying Annette landed at Dane County airport, over a hundred local kids were on hand to greet her. It's unlikely the studio was either surprised or displeased; the Capital Times of Madison reported the next day that she deplaned wearing her Mouseketeer outfit.

Filming for the farm scenes commenced the second week of June, and wrapped up June 29th. (It's not known to me when the Burbank studio scenes were done.) At the behest of the ADA the serial was filmed in color, the only original production for the Mickey Mouse Club that was. While in Wisconsin, the cast and crew stayed at the Loraine Hotel in Madison, just a few blocks south of the state capitol, and went by chartered limos and buses to the farm each day. A small barn was converted to a makeup department, while a large shed housed the wardrobe. A larger barn was converted to a set; the square dance/polka party scenes were filmed first, to give time for the tenant farmer's hay crop to be mowed.

The Sisk family, who owned but did not operate the farm, continued living in their home, which doubled for the McCandless farmhouse, during filming. Filming shifted to the University of Wisconsin's Agricultural College on June 21 for the day, so the Sisk's daughter could have her wedding reception at the farmhouse. Annette, Sammy, and Kevin were given school lessons daily in a toolhouse at the farm until June 15th, when California's summer break occurred. (Glen and Mary Lu's school year was over). The kids worked six days a week, as permitted by SAG rules of the time for child actors on location. As filming wrapped up, Annette and Sammy attended an autograph party on June 27th at the Loraine Hotel's ballroom. No word of this appeared beforehand in the local press, yet 3,000 kids and parents turned out on that evening, alerted by word of mouth.

This was Annette's first real experience of acting. She had hosted and narrated the Italian Correspondent serial, but otherwise was only lightly used in the first season skits. Kevin Corcoran had been first hired by Disney for a short Anything Can Happen Day serial called Fun with a Camera. William Beaudine Sr was the director; he recognized Kevin's natural appeal and urged Walt Disney to cast him for the Dairyland serial as well. Sammy Ogg had enjoyed a small burst of popularity from his portrayal of Joe Simpson in The Adventures of Spin and Marty, and so won the co-star role for this serial.

Fern Persons (born 1910), who played Mrs. McCandless, was until recently an active member (and officer) of the Chicago branch of the Screen Actors Guild. Originally a stage actress, she had done one film and one television series before being hired for this serial. She later had an extensive career as a character actress, appearing in films like Risky Business (1983), Hoosiers (1986), and Field of Dreams (1989), and on television in ER (1999).

Glen Graber, who played Jimmy McCandless, was a child model and part-time stage actor from Griffith, Indiana, who began at age seven in the national touring company of High Button Shoes. He later had a career in business while continuing to act in musicals, and is still doing roles in regional theater today. Mary Lu Delmonte, who played Linda McCandless, was a Catholic school girl from McHenry County, Illinois. Primarily a singer, this appears to have been her one and only stint as an actress.

Ernst Zentner (Pauli) and Clayton Streiff (Nels) were the most prominent cast members actually from Wisconsin. Folk singers and musicians of Swiss heritage, they sang, yodeled, and performed on Alpine instruments for live audiences and recordings. Ernst was a member of a group from New Glarus, Wisconsin, called the "Edelweiss Stars", and was hired on the set for the part he played. One song heard in this series, Teach Me How to Yodel, was written by another well-known Wisconsin folk musician, Rudy Burkhalter. Many of the teenagers in the 4-H square dance scene were neighbors of the Sisk family in Verona, and belonged to a local dance group called the "Hoe Down Hut".

Lois Murray, who played the Disney Studio school teacher, Miss Ross, was a hairstylist in the studio's makeup department. She was given this small role since the serial started filming during California's school year. State regulations prohibited the real studio teachers from doing anything but teaching until the summer break. The "classroom" where she taught was a set, and bore little relation to the studio-built schoolhouse trailer the kids attended, nor was it usual for the serial actors and Mouseketeers to have classes together.

Credits

Cast



Annette Funicello         Herself
Sammy Ogg         Himself

Wisconsin scenes
         
Kevin Corcoran         "Moochie" McCandless
Herb Newcomb         Jim McCandless
Fern Persons         Mrs. McCandless
Glen Graber         Jimmy McCandless
Mary Lu Delmonte         Linda McCandless
Ernst Zentner         Paulie
Clayton E. Streiff         Nels
John Craig         Veterinarian
Paul Grossenbacher         Leader of Singing Group
William McKee         Square Dance Caller
Eric Borg         Bit part
Lois Framberger         4-H Performer
William Kahl         Teenage 4-H Performer
Jerry Richardson         4-H Performer
Rita Richardson         4-H Performer
Jennifer Jordan         Teenage 4-H Performer/Annette's Stand-in
William Reuf         Alpenhorn player
Carl Luescher         Alpenhorn player
Tom Mackesey         4-H Performer
Donna Geiger         Teenage 4-H Performer (uncredited)
Karen Hendricks         4-H Performer (uncredited)
Mark Jordan         Teenage 4-H Performer (uncredited)
Mary Beth Jordan         Teenage 4-H Performer (uncredited)
Barbara Kahl         Teenage 4-H Performer (uncredited)
Delores Mackesey         4-H Performer (uncredited)
Jim Sharp         Teenage 4-H Performer (uncredited)
Jim Winkleman         Teenage 4-H Performer (uncredited)

Burbank scenes
         
Walt Disney         Himself (uncredited)
Lois Murray         Miss Ross
Sid Miller         Himself (uncredited)
Darlene Gillespie         Herself (uncredited)
Cubby O'Brien         Himself (uncredited)
Karen Pendleton         Herself (uncredited)
Tommy Cole         Himself (uncredited)
Doreen Tracey         Herself (uncredited)
Tim Considine         Himself (uncredited)
David Stollery         Himself (uncredited)
Sharon Baird         Herself (uncredited)
Lonnie Burr         Himself (uncredited)
Bobby Burgess         Himself (uncredited)
B. G. Norman         Himself (uncredited)
Brand Stirling         Himself (uncredited)
Cheryl Holdridge         Herself (uncredited)
Margene Storey         Herself (uncredited)
Jay-Jay Solari         Himself (uncredited)

Crew



Bill Walsh         Producer
Stirling Silliphant         Original Concept (uncredited)
Lillie Hayward         Writer
William Beaudine Sr         Director
William Lava         Theme Song
Rudy Burkhalter         Song
Tom Adair         Song (uncredited)
Marvin Aubrey Davis         Art Director
Walter H. Castle, A.S.C.         Director of Photography
Stanley Johnson         Film Editor
Robert O. Cook         Sound
Fred MacLean         Set Decoration
Pat McNally         Makeup
Chuck Keehne         Costumes
Gertie Casey         Ladies Wardrobe
Chuck Arrico         Mens Wardrobe
Russ Haverick         Unit Manager
William Beaudine Jr         First Assistant Director
Ted Schilz         Second Assistant Director
John Ormunde         Publicity Director (uncredited)

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