The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Eileen Diamond     (Jun 15, 1943)


L'Artiste

A second season replacement Mouseketeer, Eileen Diamond was a dance specialist: folk, jazz and modern, but primarily ballet. After her one season with the show, she danced in film, on stage, in musical comedy and for various goodwill programs. As an adult, she has taken the roles of dancer, choreographer, casting director, and producer for regional theater. She became a teacher of the performing arts in summer camps jointly developed with her husband, conductor-composer Roy Rogosin.

Background

Eileen Sharon Diamond was born in Los Angeles on June 15, 1943, to Harry Diamond, a real estate broker, and Hannah Thurschwell. Hannah encouraged her daughter to excel in music and dance. Eileen lived most of her young life in the Hollywood Hills, in the midst of the entertainment industry. Eileen started dance lessons at an early age, attending the Rainbow Dance Studio owned by Doreen Tracey's father. Although she and Doreen were not exactly close friends, they did visit at each other’s home in their pre-Mouseketeer days.

An exceptional ballerina, Eileen was chosen on the spot by noted choreographer George Balanchine to appear in his 1954 production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker with the New York City Ballet. She later danced Balanchine’s Nutcracker at the Greek Theatre in Hollywood, and also in San Francisco. Eileen played piano, and would be the only Mouseketeer other than Cubby to be afforded a solo instrumental spot on the show.

Performance

Eileen auditioned for the original cast of the First Season of the Club, but didn’t make the cut. Next year, she auditioned again and made the Second Season cast. Choreographer Tom Mahoney was looking for more skilled dancers to do more complicated numbers than in the First Season. Although she didn't appear in roll call and was often used as part of an audience for circus acts, talent winners, etc., Eileen did get featured parts as a dancer in Polka Dot Waltz, 1925 Sweetshop, Land of Me-Oh-My, The Tramps, and The Dogies Danced All Night.

Eileen was a well-rounded performer and could sing. Although she was never featured as a singer, she did get to sing an occasional solo line in numbers such as Land of Me-Oh-My and Holiday in Hawaii. She could also act, was cast as the voice-over narrator for the five-part Anything Can Happen Day feature Fun with a Camera, learning the basics of photography at the San Diego Zoo and Disneyland. She also did the voice over for another multi-part serial called Rookie Fireman, this time with Walt Disney himself as a co-host. Eileen and three other kids were put through an abbreviated training program by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, and she was carried down a ladder (all 78 pounds of her) in a rescue simulation.


One thing made Eileen somewhat unique: she soloed a complete work on the piano in Basketball Ballet on Fun With Music Day. The first part of the number was a dispute between the boys and girls over use of a high school gym before an upcoming show. Eileen was the rehearsal pianist. In the second part, Eileen confided to Cubby that she felt that no one liked classical music. Segue to a dream sequence: Eileen imagines herself in a formal gown playing Beethoven on a large grand piano. When she wakes from her dream, she finds that the kids really liked the piece and invite her to be part of the show. In actuality, the producers asked Eileen if she knew any boogie, but she had just learned Beethoven’s Für Elise, and asked if she could play that. It was one of the classier moments of the show.

Aftermath

Despite all her talent, the Studio did not retain Eileen for the Third Season. This left her disappointed, asking herself what she could have done differently. She was not alone among the Mouseketeers in this regard. Some Mouseketeers ended their performing days with the Mickey Mouse Club. For Eileen it was simply a beginning, and she was going on auditions while still a student at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. When she returned to the Disney Studio to audition for Babes in Toyland (1961), choreographer Tom Mahoney spotted her and hired her immediately. She wound up doing high kicks with Tommy Sands in the front line of the opening dance number and reconnecting briefly with Annette.

Eileen played one of the students marching along with Robert Preston in The Music Man (1962) and appeared as a harem girl in an Elvis Presley movie, Roustabout (1964). It may be noted that background dancers were not credited back then. She was a bikini dancer in an episode of Route 66, and did some Scopitone video clips, including one with singer Bobby Vee, again wearing a bikini. Not your typical Mouseketeer fare.

Finding she preferred dancing before a live audience, Eileen joined the repertory companies of the Melodyland Theater in Anaheim, The Sacramento Music Circus and the Valley Music Hall in Utah in the 60’s, doing stage shows from Oklahoma to The Music Man to Pal Joey. She married conductor-composer Roy Rogosin in 1964 and they have two adult children.

As a couple, Eileen and Roy founded the Seacoast Repertory Theater in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, later adding the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. Roy served as artistic director and producer, while Eileen was associate producer and casting director. Eileen also gave dance lessons to local students and did the choreography for their stage productions. In 1986, the Rogosins founded a program called C-A-M-P: Creative- Arts- Music- Performance, in Portsmouth. This was a summer camp for children and teens concentrating on all areas of performance to include singing, dancing, writing, acting and musicianship. In 2007, they moved their program to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Several of their campers have gone on to Broadway. The Rogosins have recently retired to Todos Santos, an artistically inclined community in Baja California.

- - - Profile by Randall Nakashima

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