The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Mickey Mouse Club Serials: Annette


As a shortened Mickey Mouse Club started it's third season of broadcasting, Walt Disney wanted to see if Annette Funicello could handle a lead dramatic role before committing her to a film project. His staff came up with the perfect vehicle for her in this third season serial, a part that would do much to mould the public perception of her as a shy, sweet, gentle young lady, beloved of gals and guys alike.

With a screenplay adapted from a now-forgotten teen novel, and a director with a past history of discovering young female stars, production began in November 1957 and wrapped up in December, with the first television showing in February 1958. Serial actors, Mouseketeers, and some outside talent rounded out the cast in this, the last Mickey Mouse Club serial to be filmed and broadcast.


Synopsis

Annette McCloud, an orphan from Nebraska, arrives unannounced at the home of her Uncle Archie and Aunt Lila in the town of Ashford. She is the daughter of their deceased younger brother, and was previously unknown to them. Though initially suspicious, they take the country girl in, and prepare her for a life in town. Annette soon makes friends with the MacLeod's housekeeper Katie, and with Jet Maypen, another country girl who delivers produce from her parent's ranch to Ashford. While shopping for new clothes with Aunt Lila, Annette meets Val Abernathy, her mother, and Moselle Corey. Annette is invited to a party at Val's home, given in honor of Moselle's house guest, Laura Rogan, who will attend Old South High with the other kids this year. Through a mixup, Annette's escort to the party turns out to be a perpetually-hungrey, smart-aleck kid named Olmstead Ware. "Steady" takes Annette to the local malt shop first, and introduces her to another country kid, soda jerk Mike Martin.

Despite her shy manner and quiet voice, Annette catches the eyes of the boys at the party, annoying the snobby Laura. While playing a party game, Laura loses track of her expensive necklace, and halfway accuses Annette, who left the party early, of taking it. The following Monday at Old South High School, Annette finds her transfer from a country school means she must go down a level to the tenth grade, instead of joining the other kids in eleventh grade. Her friend, Jet Maypen, who lives on a farm just outside Ashford, takes Annette to the soda shop during lunch. When the other kids arrive at the soda shop, Laura again insinuates that Annette took the necklace. Annette overhears her and leaves the shop. Thereafter, Annette avoids the crowd at school, eating lunch with Jet.

Later, Steve Abernathy, who is the student body president, appoints Annette to the entertainment committee as tenth-grade chairman. Surprisingly, Annette accepts and comes to the committee meeting at the Abernathy home. Laura, who is also there, objects to Annette's appointment. When Annette announces Jet as her assistant, Laura pronounces the latter as crude, drawing a rebuke from Annette. Laura then repeats her insinuation about the necklace, again causing Annette to flee. The next day Steve, Mike and Steady try to talk to Laura about Annette, but make a hash of it. Steve then tries to convince Annette to talk to Laura herself, but it backfires when Laura sees them together in Steve's car parked outside the McCloud home.

Steve Abernathy decides to have a barbeque at his parent's country house. He invites Annette, but she declines, since she and Uncle Archie are going to visit Jet Maypen and her father at their farm. The kids ride a hay wagon out to the Abernathy place. Laura is happy to have Mike and Steve to herself, but gets miffed when they stop the wagon at the Maypen farm. The boys persuade Jet and Annette to come along with them, sending Laura into a funk. At the barbeque Steve pays attention to Annette, ignoring Laura, who throws a fit. Jet forces Laura to come right out and accuse Annette of theft, and when she does jumps in and tackles her. They fall into the swimming pool, which ends the fight and barbeque. Mrs Abernathy gets the necklace story out of Val, and very quickly all the other parents know it as well. Feeling she has brought trouble to her Aunt and Uncle, Annette runs away but is brought back by Mike.

At the next entertainment committee meeting at the Abernathy residence, Laura, Jet, and Annette all show up. To forestall trouble, Steve asks Laura to do her song. She tries to play the piano, but it produces off-key noises. Steve and Drew Stafford open it up and discover the necklace deep inside. Laura apologises to Annette, Jet apologises to Laura, and everything ends happily.


Episode Guide

Episode         Orig Air Date          
                     
      An Introduction         Feb 10, 1958          
1.   The Newcomer         Feb 11, 1958          
2.   Annette Meets Jet         Feb 12, 1958          
3.   An Invitation         Feb 13, 1958          
4.   The Escort         Feb 14, 1958          
5.   The Party         Feb 17, 1958          
6.   Paying the Piper         Feb 18, 1958          
7.   The Missing Necklace         Feb 19, 1958          
8.   What Happened at School         Feb 20, 1958          
9.   Almost a Fight         Feb 21, 1958          
10. Steady Gets an Idea         Feb 24, 1958          
11. The Explosion         Feb 25, 1958          
12. The Turned Down Invitation         Feb 26, 1958          
13. Annette Makes a Decision         Feb 27, 1958          
14. The Hayride         Feb 28, 1958          
15. The Barbecue         Mar   3, 1958          
16. The Fight         Mar   4, 1958          
17. The Farewell Letter         Mar   5, 1958          
18. Mike to the Rescue         Mar   6, 1958          
19. The Mystery is Solved         Mar   7, 1958          



Notes

The teleplay was adapted by Lillie Hayward from a book called Margaret, written in 1950 by Janette Sebring Lowrey (who also wrote the children's classic The Pokey Little Puppy). It is a well-written and sensitive novel, but contains material that at the time was not acceptable for teenage television entertainment. Hayward changed the story's setting from southeast Texas in 1909, to a contemporary western small-town environment. The essential elements of the conflict between town and country, as represented by Margaret (Annette), Laura Rogan, and Jet Maypen were preserved, as were some minor characters. However, Hayward removed most of the adult characters and situations found in the book, consolidated events down to the school, party, and fight scenes, and added some new material to bridge the gaps.

Originally titled after the book, the serial was publicly announced as Annette and Darlene in Summer 1957. It was to be a starring vehicle for the two female Mouseketeers, with David Stollery and Tim Considine as the featured guests stars, a turnabout from The New Adventures of Spin and Marty, which the foursome was then filming. But in October 1957, Darlene Gillespie was suddenly dropped from the cast. Judy Nugent, a well-regarded professional actress, was brought in to play her role, and the serial was renamed to just Annette. The circumstances surrounding this change are a bit murky. The studio belatedly (and unconvincingly) gave out that the switch was so Darlene could prepare for the upcoming film project, The Rainbow Road to Oz. It's likely that director Charles Lamont recommended Judy to the producers as Darlene's replacement.

The soda-jerk Mike Martin, played by David Stollery, is the only example I can think of a teenager holding down a real part-time job in an MMC serial. It was a realistic touch in the otherwise make-believe Disney world, so different from the real one, and yet so captivating for it's viewing audience. David's singing voice in his duet with Annette seems to have been augmented somehow, though it doesn't appear to have been completly dubbed in as was done with Judy Nugent.

Complementing the two main couples were Roberta Shore as Laura Rogan, and Steve Stevens as the erstwhile lover Drew Stafford. Roberta, who was billed as Jymme Shore, proved quite adept at playing the catty Laura, though in true Disney style and unlike the book, her character is redeemed at the end. The novel's author described Val Abernathy as "not pretty", so of course, the serial has her played by the beautiful Doreen Tracey. Another unattached character, Moselle Corey, was played by Shelley Fabares, who would become Annette's best friend through having worked with her on this serial.

Providing comic relief was the final teenage couple, professional actor Rudy Lee as Steady Ware and Sharon Baird, as Kitty Blalock. The character Steady, who is pursued by Kitty, was in the book himself pursuing Madge Markham, played in the serial by Cheryl Holdridge. Madge, a significant character in the book, was reduced to background in the serial, while Kitty, just a name in the book, was given major exposure in the serial. Kitty was actually called Katie in the book, but was given a name change when Uncle Archie and Aunt Lila's African-American servants were replaced by a white housekeeper called Katie, a character created by Lillie Hayward. (Got all that?)

Other Mouseketeers used were Bonnie Fields as Pat Boren and Tommy Cole as Jimmy Smith, while juvenile actor Barry Curtis (The Adventures of Champion) was seen but not heard as Court Whitney. Tom Mahoney both choreographed the dances and had a silent part as the haywagon driver.

The studio changed the family name of Annette's character from the book's original Scottish spelling of MacLeod to the American variant McCloud. However, as the mailbox shot on the sidebar shows, there was some inconsistency on this.

The song that launched Annette's recording career, How Will I Know My Love?, was written by Frances Jeffords and Tom Adair, with producer Bill Walsh claiming partial credit for the lyrics. The theme song Annette was by Jimmie Dodd, and was first used for a second season skit. It's melody is strangely evocative of the 1945 Jules Styne-Sammy Cahn hit It's Been A Long, Long Time. Other songs heard during the serial were Readin', Writin' and Rhythm, Meetin' at the Malt Shop, Pigeon Wing, and Don't Jump to Conclusions, all by Tom Adair and Buddy Baker.

Veteran character actors Richard Deacon and Mary Wickes played gruff Uncle Archie and his housekeeper foil, Katie. Sylvia Field, who played Aunt Lila, is best remembered for playing Martha Wilson on the Dennis the Menace television series, from 1959-62. Doris Packer, who portrayed the school principal on Leave It to Beaver, played the somewhat elderly mother to Steve and Val Abernathy.


Credits

Cast



Actor         Role
Annette Funicello         Annette McCloud
Tim Considine         Steven Abernathy
David Stollery         Mike Martin
Judy Nugent         Jet Maypen
Richard Deacon         Uncle Archie McCloud, Ph.D.
Sylvia Field         Aunt Lila McCloud
Mary Wickes         Katie
Roberta Shore         Laura Rogan
Doreen Tracey         Val Abernathy
Shelley Fabares         Moselle Corey
Rudy Lee         Olmstead "Steady" Ware
Steve Stevens         Drew Stafford
Sharon Baird         Kitty Blalock
Tommy Cole         Jimmy Smith
Doris Packer         Mrs. Helen Abernathy
Cheryl Holdridge         Madge Markham
Bonnie Lynn Fields         Pat Boren
Barry Curtis         Court Whitney
Ralph Dumke         Mr. Abernathy
William Benedict         Delivery Man
Amzie Strickland         Saleslady
Helene Marshall         Maid (Abernathy's)
Thomas L. Mahoney         Curley (Haywagon Driver)
Irving Bacon         Jim Maypen
Chuck Hicks         Tony Blair (boy at party) (uncredited)

Crew



Bill Walsh         Producer, Songs
Charles Lamont         Director
Janette Sebring Lowrey         Writer (novel Margaret)
Lillie Hayward         Writer (teleplay)
John Grubbs         Production Manager
Mike Holoboff         Production Supervisor
Russ Haverick         Assistant Director
Dolph M. Zimmer         Assistant Director
Arthur Viterelli         Assistant Director
Frederick Gately, A.S.C.         Director of Photography
Walter H. Castle, A.S.C.         Director of Photography
Marvin Aubrey Davis         Art Director
Stan Jolly         Art Director
Pat McNalley         Make-up
Chuck Keehne         Wardrobe
Eve Newing         Hair Stylist
Al Teeter, A.C.E.         Film Editor
Ed Sampson         Film Editor
Wayne Hughes         Film Editor
Robert Stafford         Film Editor
Jimmie Dodd         Theme Song, Songs
Buddy Baker         Music, Songs
Joseph Mullendore         Music
Oliver Wallace         Music
Tom Adair         Songs
Franklyn Marks         Songs
Bob Jackman         Songs
Robert O. Cook         Sound
Armor E. Goetten         Set Decorator
Emile Kuri         Set Decorator
Thomas L. Mahoney         Choreographer

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