The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Tim Considine         Dec 31, 1940

The Franchise

If there ever was a single MVP award for the Mickey Mouse Club, it would have to go to Tim Considine, who starred in every successful serial on the show. One of the first television teen idols, Tim never completely stopped acting, but has concentrated on writing for most of his adult life.

Background

Timothy Daniel Considine was born in Los Angeles to a show business family, though one that created and exhibited rather than performed. His father John W. Considine Jr, was an Oscar-nominated movie producer (Boys Town, MGM 1938), and himself the son of a theatrical producer. Tim's father and grandfather were both US-born (contrary to claims on many internet sources), the family having come originally from County Clare, Ireland. Tim himself told interviewers in the fifties that sportswriter Bob Considine was his uncle, though the actual relationship is more likely third cousins. Tim's mother, Carmen, was an heiress to the theatre chain founded by her father, Alexander Pantages, who immigrated to the United States from Greece around 1885. Tim has one brother, John Considine, himself an actor and writer, who is five years older.

While Tim undeniably came from a wealthy background, his father stopped making movies in 1943, and his parents had divorced by the time he started acting. The personal circumstances of his mother (with whom he lived as a child and teenager) are perhaps best described as upper middle class. Though he never knew his maternal grandfather, the story of Alexander Pantages' downfall, through a smear campaign instigated by business rivals, may have instilled in Tim a wariness for those who make their living from celebrity gossip.

Self-motivated from an early age, Tim himself determined that acting was what he wanted to do. His first film role was in MGM's The Clown (1953), where he co-starred with Red Skeleton in a remake of The Champ (1932). Later that year he had his television debut on an episode of Ford Television Theatre. Tim had leapfrogged the background player/extra phase of an acting career; both of these parts were major dramatic roles. He did have a smaller part in his next film, quite understandably, since it was the star-laden Executive Suite (1954), nominated for four Oscars.

Tim's last film for MGM was Miss Baker's Dozen (1954, aka Her Twelve Men). For the first time he acted with kids his own age, including his future MMC serial colleagues David Stollery, Donald MacDonald, Dale Hartleban, and Patrick Miller. Tim next did an episode of The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin in 1954, then worked on two films that would be released in 1955, Unchained, a minor crime drama, and The Private War of Major Benson, another boarding school picture. Shortly before his MMC debut, he featured in an episode of Treasury Men in Action.

Performance

In April 1955 Tim was signed to play the lead in a serial called Marty Markham for the upcoming Mickey Mouse Club. Offered $400 a week for what was expected to be a two-month stint, Tim decided that he didn't want to play the part of rich kid Marty, which was similar to his roles in Miss Baker's Dozen and The Private War of Major Benson (and to his own life, at that). Instead, Tim asked the producers to cast him as Spin Evans, the cool kid. They obliged, to the extent that the series was renamed The Adventures of Spin and Marty.

Spin and Marty proved to be the most popular element of the Mickey Mouse Club. Tim found that his portrayal of Spin Evans brought him fame far beyond that bestowed by his five films. His distinctive flat-top haircut, which resembled an upturned scrub brush, suddenly became the "in" style for the cool set. Fan letters poured into the Disney Studio, not quite in the quantities generated by Annette Funicello, but enough to make the MMC producers want to use Tim more.

Tim, however, proved surprisingly resistant to overexposure by Disney. While his costar David Stollery was thrown into some hurriedly conceived projects, Tim was absent from the studio lot until the second season's summer filming arrived. He then starred in a major new serial, Mystery of the Applegate Treasure, with newcomer Tommy Kirk. Following a brief cameo for the opening episode of Adventure in Dairyland, Tim then plunged into the Further Adventures of Spin and Marty, which now co-starred Annette as well as David Stollery.

Both The Hardy Boys and Spin and Marty serials were successful, increasing Tim's popularity. The romantic linking with Annette, which would continue thru two more serials and a movie, was largely on film as Tim has stated in recent DVD interviews, though print interviews from the early sixties quote him as saying they did date occasionally. In person, he was a quiet, serious guy, with a passionate interest in auto racing (at age sixteen he already owned two sports cars). He and his mom lived in an apartment overlooking Sunset Strip, though he attended Notre Dame High School in the San Fernando Valley when not working at the Disney Studio.

Tim's third season on the Mickey Mouse Club was his busiest, as he took part in all four serials made that year. He again co-starred with Tommy Kirk in The Mystery of Ghost Farm, while doing voice-over narration for the British-made Adventures of Clint and Mac. Tim also starred with David Stollery, Annette Funicello, and Darlene Gillespie in The New Adventures of Spin and Marty. During this serial Charles Barton acquiesced to Tim's thirst for new challenges by letting him direct a scene. Tim did a cameo for an episode of Disneyland called "The Fourth Anniversary Show", then wound up his MMC stint with the role of Steve Abernathy on the Annette serial.

Aftermath

The Shaggy Dog (1959), starred Tim along with Annette, Tommy Kirk, and Roberta Shore. The picture was a financial success, and boosted the careers of all of its teenage stars. Tim didn't dislike the public adulation that fame brought him, but was probably annoyed by seeing his name linked in fan magazines with one young starlet after another. He quickly got his own apartment upon turning eighteen, and confessed to one interviewer that he smoked cigarettes to cover-up his nail-biting nervousness. Tim and his brother John collaborated on writing scripts and teleplays, though it would be another decade before writing became Tim's main profession.

The Disney serial stars weren't tied to exclusive long-term contracts like the Mouseketeers, so Tim was free to do episodes of Zane Grey Theater, Cheyenne, and Johnny Ringo in 1959. He finished his career at Disney the following year with a recurring role in Swamp Fox, in which he got to do a marriage proposal and a death scene, both on-camera firsts for the former juvenile actor. Tim was drafted into the US Air Force at this time, but managed to temporarily defer his induction while he made the film version of the award-winning play Sunrise at Campobello, and a TV pilot with Fred MacMurray.

This pilot launched him into his longest running role, as eldest brother Mike Douglas on My Three Sons. Tim would eventually complete his military service in 1962 (short hitches were common for air force draftees back then), but managed to keep performing with the half-hour comedy series until the first episode of the 1965-66 season. Tim had written at least one teleplay used on the show, and had directed individual scenes, but left after producer Don Fedderson declined to let him do more directing. Tim would continue performing on television shows (Bonanza, The Fugitive, Medical Center, Gunsmoke, Ironside) through the early seventies.

Tim's last film work for over thirty-five years was a short dramatic bit in Patton (1970). He had married actress Charlotte Stewart shortly after leaving My Three Sons, but they divorced in 1972. Tim's acting career reached its nadir with a role in a made-for-tv movie called The Daring Dobermans (1973). Although he never stopped acting completely, he would often let ten years go by between performances. Instead, he concentrated on writing, journalism, and photography. His first book, The Photographic Dictionary of Soccer, was published in 1979, and he has since written The Language of Sport (1982), and the award-winning American Grand Prix Racing: A Century of Drivers and Cars (1997). He also has filled in for columnist William Safire at The New York Times feature "On Language".

Tim remarried in 1979 to Willette Hunt, with whom he has had one child. He has become more active in television recently, has appeared with other former Disney child actors on Disney DVD special features, and makes public appearances at conventions.

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