The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Bonni Lou Kern       (Jan 2, 1941)


The Dancer

Bonni, a talented amateur, was the oldest Mouseketeer during the first season and one of the best female dancers on the show. A good acrobat as well, she never made the Red Team or Roll Call, yet was used extensively in difficult dance numbers. She had little interest in show business, only in dancing, and did not pursue other TV or film work.

Background

Bonni Lou Kern was born in Los Angeles, California. As a fourteen year old student at Burch Mann's Alhambra studio, she was brought by Burch to the auditions, along with Darlene Gillespie, Mary Espinosa, Don Underhill and several others. She had no prior show business experience, nor did she come from an entertainment background.

For the audition, Bonni and the other girls from Burch's studio did a character dance in "milkmaid" costumes. (After they were hired, Bonni and Darlene wore these same costumes for several early skits on the show.) Bonni and Mary were both called back for a second audition a short time after the first, where they were both asked to sing. Both girls made the cut the second time out.

Performance

An acrobat as well as a dancer, Bonni made her TV debut with a front flip over Bobby and Sharon's arms on opening day in Disneyland. She was a strong fast dancer, and could handle folk, character, tap, jazz, and ballet, though she was never called upon for the latter style on camera. Bonni was of average height, but being older than the other Mouseketeers meant she towered over most of the boys. Like Mary Sartori, her relative height was probably one cause for her being stuck on the Blue Team.


Nevertheless she appeared prominently in more dance numbers than some Red Team members, even cracking the Talent Round-up Day lineup by doing a gypsy dance with Mary Sartori.



Being the oldest, it would have been natural for Bonni to do introductions, but she was given few opportunities for this. Her singing was limited to groups, or rarely, a very short solo. Because of her height and dancing skills she was usually paired with Bobby Burgess, with whom she did a number of Burch Mann's trademark character dances.

Aftermath

When most of the first season Mouseketeers were dropped in January 1956, Bonni went back to Alhambra High School, where she immediately made the Song Leader squad. Her dance teacher, Burch Mann, also left the show about this time, another reason for Bonni not to miss television. After high school graduation, she went into business management. She married delivery driver Harold Carr, with whom she had two daughters, and continued to reside in Alhambra, California. Bonni took part in the 1975 Disneyland Mouseketeer Reunion, and also appeared on the televised 25th Anniversary Show in 1980. Sometime after her first husband's death in 1981, Bonni remarried and moved to Wooster, Ohio where she still resides today.

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