Joseph Richard Dodd Jr was born October 27, 1945 in Hermosa Beach, California, but grew up in nearby Redondo Beach. His Oklahoma-born father was in the US Army when he married Florinda Murillo. Several months after Dick was born his father abandoned the family. Dick told an interviwer in the 1990's that he never really met his father or knew anything about him. Florinda supported the family by working as a store clerk. Dick was looked after by his Mexican-born grandmother; he grew up speaking both English and Spanish. He took tap dancing lessons as a kid, but was better at singing and playing musical instruments. His specialty was the accordion, as common in the fifties as electric guitars would become in the seventies.
Dick has said a Disney talent scout visited his dancing school and picked him out of the line-up for a chance to audition as a Mouseketeer. His grandmother took him on the two-hour public bus ride from Redondo Beach to Burbank for a cattle-call audition with some 300 other kids. Dick was called back for several of these auditions, at which Walt Disney was present. Just when Dick became a Mouseketeer isn't clear, but it seems to have been after the July 17th, 1955 debut at Disneyland, for he wasn't in the line-up that day. It's likely that Dick, along with Ronnie Steiner, was hired as a replacement for Paul Petersen or one of the Rooney brothers. The show's producers wanted the kids to have two-syllable names, so "Dick" became "Dickie".
As a replacement, Dick had a one year contract with four thirteen-week options, as opposed to the seven-year contracts the first kids received. He doesn't seem to have been on the show for more than two option periods, about six months, from late July 1955 thru January 1956. Like the other Mouseketeer musicians on the show (except Cubby O'Brien), Dick had no chance to display his skill with musical instruments, such opportunities being reserved for Talent Roundup winners.
Dick was assigned to the Blue Team, and spent most of his on-camera time watching guest stars or circus acts. When he did get a chance to do something, it was in Disneyland cross-marketing skits, like Flying Toad Cars or pretending to be one of a quartet of dancing waiters at the Golden Horseshoe Revue. In the latter number, he seems to have been directed to dance off the beat as a gag; the companion girl's number also had one of the four dancers hamming it up.
Dick did get a number of lines and a featured part with guest star Helene Stanley, dancing a buckskin hoedown with her. Between filmings and rehearsals Cubby gave Dick some lessons in playing the drums. Dick was interested enough that he paid Annette
twenty dollars for a snare drum and high-hat cymbals. (Decades later he mentioned to an interviewer that he never did know why she had those instruments).
At nine, Dick was one of the youngest Mouseketeers. He was also small for his age, though as an adult he would reach five foot eleven. Like all first season Blue Team Mouseketeers his time at Disney finished up with the Mickey Mouse Club Circus. From November to early January he worked the Big Top at Disneyland with other mice, doing two forty-five minute shows daily.
After Dick left the show he continued his dancing lessons. Around age eleven he landed a gig on The Gisele McKenzie Show, as one of the Curfew Kids. Dick performed on the show for its one year run on NBC, and following that in Las Vegas for a couple of years as part of Gisele's nightclub act.
Dick attended Catholic elemenatry schools when not working in studios, but switched to Redondo Union for high school. Redondo Beach's local paperr The Daily Breeze had often featured Dick in articles about his show biz career. and later used him as a correspondant for high school activities.
Dick Dodd on the Gisele McKenzie Show January 1958
Dick kept up with his drumming, playing with local garage band The Casuals as a teenager. He joined up with Paul Johnson and Eddie Bertrand in a South Bay band The Belairs, which had already recorded and released the first surf song Mr. Moto
in 1961. The band played at their own club in Redondo Beach, but broke up around 1963. Dick also had an occasional acting gig; during 1962 he appeared in Bye Bye Birdie
with Ann Margaret.
Dick then hooked up with a house band from PJ's club on Sunset Strip in early 1964. The band, called the Standells, had just lost it's drummer, and needed a new one, fast, to record their first album. Dick joined Larry Tamblyn, Tony Valentino, and Gary Lane in recording the album. Dick also sang lead on the song Help Yourself
, as it turned out, the album's only hit. From then on, Dick replaced Larry Tamblyn as lead singer.
The Standells performed on quite a few television shows in the mid-sixties, including Shindig
, Ben Casey
, The Munsters
, and The Bing Crosby Show
among others. For The Mike Douglas Show
the host asked Dick Dodd to sing a few bars of the Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater, which Dick gamely did.
They also appeared with other bands in Get Yourself a College Girl
(1964), directed by Sidney Miller
. Their biggest hit at Billboard #11 was Dirty Water
, written by their manager, Ed Cobb, to which Dick added a spoken introduction and ad-lib's. The band made five albums all together, and did one more film, Riot on Sunset Strip
(1967) with Tim Rooney
In 1968 Dick left the Standells to record solo. Still using Ed Cobb as his manager, he recorded an album called First Evolution
, and released a couple of songs from it as singles, but found his style couldn't compete with the acid rock from San Francisco then becoming popular. Since then he has managed a restaurant, worked for a construction equipment company, and driven limousines in Los Angeles, where he now lives.
Dick appeared with thirty other Mouseketeers on the 25th Anniversary special in 1980. Dirty Water
became the Boston Red Sox's official theme song in 1997. In 2004, and again in 2005, Dick and the other former Standells got together to play the song live before Red Sox World Series games. Dick passed away from cancer on November 29, 2013 in Fountain Valley, California.