The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Billie Beanblossom   (Jan 1, 1944)

Swiss Miss

Billie was one of the original Mouseketeers hired for the first season. She was primarily a dancer, though she could also sing. She lasted the entire first season, but never made the Red Team or Roll Call. After leaving the show, she had a short career as a dance teacher, then went into the business world. Many years later, she would learn a hard truth about individuals taking on corporations under our legal system.

Background

Billie was born to Floyd and Beverly Beanblossom in Ft. Worth, Texas. Her unusual surname is of Swiss origin. Billie's family moved to the Los Angeles area when she was still young. She grew up near Alhambra where she took dance lessons from age four. Her hobbies were painting, swimming, and ice skating.

Performance

Billie was only eleven when hired for the show, and as can be expected at that age, was a bit high-spirited. She had small parts in several skits, but most typically was part of a chorus or audience for other performers. She was a fair dancer and singer for her age, but didn't stand out among the many very talented kids on the show.

Performing on the set always involved a certain amount of tension, which the individual kids reacted to in different ways. One cried when the camera was turned his way, another blinked furiously and lost focus under the glaring lights, another would freeze and forget her lines. Billie, though, had a tendency to get the giggles.


Billie was popular with the other kids who liked her easygoing and cheerful nature. She was a bit of a ham at times, which the directors don't seem to have discouraged. When the first season's filming wrapped up in early November 1955, she joined the other Mouseketeers in performing at the Disneyland Circus. In later years Tommy Cole would recall that his mother, Mrs. Beanblossom, and another kid's mom would take turns carpooling to and from Disneyland on the side streets (no freeways back then). One of the last activities the original Mouseketeers did together that first season was attend Billie's birthday party, which was photographed by the Publicity Department for the club magazine.

Aftermath

By early January 1956 the first season's production was finished, with half the Mouseketeers left waiting for phone calls to return to the studio that never came. Billie was one of these, her short career on television over. She attended Pacoima Junior High where she was a cheerleader, then Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles. She resumed dancing lessons for the next five years, then herself taught dancing for three more years. Billie later went to work in the personnel department of an aerospace firm, where in 1962 she met and married her first husband, Ted Cooper, with whom she had two children.

In 1975 Billie took part in reunion activities associated with Disneyland's 20th Anniversary. She also performed in the Mouseketeers' 25th Anniversary Show in 1980. However, Billie's enjoyment of Disneyland would be curtailed by an incident that occurred on August 17, 1995. Billie, by then Mrs. Matay, her daughter, and some grandchildren, were robbed at gunpoint in the Disneyland parking lot. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but Billie was ill-served by some poor legal advice, and decided to sue Disneyland.

The case unfortunately got into the press, and the resulting legal battle, carried on in public for several years, did none of the participants any credit. A national magazine, generally supportive of underdogs taking on Goliath (except when Goliath happens to be a media mega-conglomerate), characterized Billie as an opportunist and worse, to the point where Mary Espinosa and Lonnie Burr felt compelled to write open letters to the editors protesting the vilification. The Mouseketeers particularly resented Billie's civil suit being linked in the press with Darlene Gillespie's arrest on criminal charges.

Billie, of course, lost her case, a great deal of her peace of mind, but not, it is hoped, any fond memories she may have retained of working as a Mouseketeer.

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