Frequently Asked Questions
- When was the Mickey Mouse Club first broadcast? - In the US, from October 3, 1955 to September 25, 1959 on ABC television. The final year (1958-59) consisted almost entirely of repackaged material.
- How many Mickey Mouse Club television shows have there been? - Three: the original show, The New Mickey Mouse Club (1977-79), and MMC (1989-1996).
- How many individual episodes were made of the original show? - By my count 330 shows during the first three seasons and one or two during the fourth, for a total of 266 hours of original programming (though one fourth of this was advertising and much of the rest was repetitive). Ten of the original hour-long shows have never been rerun nor released to syndication.
- Has the original Mickey Mouse Club been shown since 1959? - Within the US many of the original hour-long shows were repackaged into half-hour episodes along with the half-hour third season shows for syndication from 1962-1965 and again from 1975-77. The shows for the 1964-65 syndication featured new material from performers at Disneyland such as Professor Wonderful, Hub and Bub, and Marvellous Marvin, but being recorded on kinoscope were judged too inferior for later release. From 1983-88 and again from 1996-2001 the other syndicated shows were run on the Disney Channel. Aside from one week in October 2001, the original hour-long shows were never shown again on American television.
- How many Mouseketeers were there? - Thirty-nine kids and three adults were called Mouseketeers during the show's original run. See the Cast page for their names. Nine kids lasted for the three main seasons, and six of those were called back for the short fourth. Two each lasted two years, all the rest one year or less.
- Were Tim Considine, Tommy Kirk, or Kevin Corcoran Mouseketeers? - No, these folks along with David Stollery, Sammy Ogg, Roberta Shore, and many others were serial actors.
- What was the difference between a Mouseketeer and a serial actor? - Mouseketeers were signed to long term contracts; their principal venue was musical variety, and they did both filmed and live performances. They were also the ones who wore the "ears" and had their names on their shirts. Serial actors were employed on a project basis, were used only for filming straight acting roles, were paid far more than the Mouseketeers but had much shorter periods of active employment.
- Who was the most popular Mouseketeer? - Annette Funicello received by far the most fan mail while the show was on the air.
- Who was the most popular serial actor? - Tim Considine was the most popular while the show was on the air.
- Who was the most talented Mouseketeer? - Opinions vary, but the consensus seems to be that Darlene Gillespie was the most talented performer.
- What was Jimmie Dodd really like? - Even the most cynical of mice say in private correspondence Jimmie was exactly as he appeared on the show. Like Fred Rogers and Shari Lewis, he had a true affinity for and appeal to children.
- Why weren't there any minorities on the show? - Actually there were quite a few. Two of the Mouseketeers are Hispanic, three are of Jewish heritage, and a number are Italian-Americans, a rarity in US television during the fifties. One of the serial hosts was Asian-American, and at least a dozen of the talent winning acts were African-American, Hispanic, and Native American.
- Whose idea was the Mickey Mouse Club? - Walt Disney and Bill Cottrell came up with the original idea.
- Who decided to make the Mickey Mouse Club? - The two top executives at ABC, Leonard Goldenson and Robert Kintner. The Disney Studio gave them four alternative show ideas. They picked Disneyland first, then asked for the Mickey Mouse Club as well.
- Who created the Mickey Mouse Club? - Bill Walsh and Hal Adelquist were the guys who had most to do with creating the show's format.
- Who paid for the show? - ABC put up the original investment, with money for subsequent production coming from advertising revenues. However, the show constantly exceeded its budget, with the Disney Studio taking the loss.
- Did Walt Disney choose the Mouseketeers? - Walt Disney approved all hiring for the show's cast, but seems to have personally selected only three Mouseketeers: Annette Funicello, Cubby O'Brien, and adult leader Roy Williams.
- Were the kids on the show amateurs or professionals? - The Mouseketeers were mainly kids with some prior professional experience, though the two most popular were amateurs. The serial actors were nearly all experienced professionals. Talent Winners were divided roughly half and half between professionals and amateurs.
- What did Walt Disney think of the show? - Walt Disney's principal interest in the Mickey Mouse Club was as a source of financing for building Disneyland. He seemed genuinly fond of some of the kids, was pleased at the show's initial success, but was more interested in getting Zorro on the air than in keeping the Mickey Mouse Club going.
- How did the show change while on the air? - As originally concieved the Mickey Mouse Club was an ensemble-based show designed to appeal to ages three to fourteen, with moms as a secondary audience. Ratings showed however that up to one-third of the audience was actually grown-ups, and the enormous amount of fan mail and attention paid to the top performers led Walt Disney to step in and make changes. The show was re-oriented towards older kids and younger teenagers, while individual performers were highlighted.
- Why did the show go off the air? - Walt Disney's business philosophy eschewed short-term profits for long-term goals. So long as ABC was willing to pony up money to produce the show, he made little effort to contain costs. After Zorro started filming (1957) studio logistics forced a reduction in the Mickey Mouse Club from one-hour to a half-hour for the third season, and its quality declined noticeably. Ratings slipped drastically when Walt Disney decided to halt new production for the fourth season and just show repackaged material. ABC could no longer find sponsors to provide advertising revenue, and so was forced to fill the commercial spots with promos for other ABC shows. After one year of this, the network dropped the show from its schedule, which seems to have been what Walt Disney was aiming for all along.
- Will there be any more DVD releases for MMC shows or serials? - Only time can answer this. The studio has surprised everyone before with an unexpected release in a short time frame, so there's always hope it will happen again.
The Cast Today
- How many Mouseketeers have died? - All three adult leaders (Jimmie Dodd, Roy Williams, Bob Amsberry) and thirteen of the kids (Mike Smith, Charley Laney, Tim Rooney, Cheryl Holdridge, Don Grady, Bonnie Lynn Fields, Annette Funicello, Dick Dodd, Doreen Tracey, Lynn Ready, Larry Larsen, Dennis Day, and Karen Pendleton) have passed on.
- Are any of the Mouseketeers gay? - One Mouseketeer and one serial actor have publicly announced their homosexuality.
- How many Mouseketeers or serial actors went on to college? - Too many to list individually; those with advanced degrees (Masters) include Karen Pendleton, Lonnie Burr, and Larry Larsen, while Tim Hartnagel has a doctorate and was a university professor.
- Did any of the Mouseketeers pose for nude photos? - Johnny Crawford made a movie called The Naked Ape in the early seventies that had him nude in a few scenes, while Doreen Tracey posed twice for the men's magazine Gallery in the late seventies.
- How many Mouseketeers and serial actors stayed in show business? - Many of them stayed in show business for years but then moved on to other careers. Those who can be reasonably argued to have spent most of their adult life as performers are Annette, Bobby, Cubby, Lonnie, Sharon, Don Grady, Tim Considine, and Johnny Crawford. Those in show business "behind the cameras" included Kevin Corcoran, Tommy Cole, Steve Stevens, Eileen Diamond, and Doreen Tracey.
- Did any of the Mouseketeers or serial actors die in an auto accident? - Mouseketeer adult leader Bob Amsberry died in a car crash in 1957.
- Did any of the Mouseketeers or serial actors ever win a major show business award? - Johnny Crawford was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy for The Rifleman in 1959. Tommy Cole has received six Emmy nominations for his work in makeup design, and won the award for Backstairs at the White House in 1979.
- What are some of the occupations Mouseketeers and serial actors took up? - Secretary, surgical nurse, engineer, accountant, minister, teacher/athletic coach, author, dance instructor, policeman, sportswriter, prison guard, lawyer, auto designer, medical technician, small business owner, activist, rancher, innkeeper, mortgage company executive, landlord, grocery store manager, chauffeur, meditation counselor, psychologist, and motivational speaker.
- Did any of the Mouseketeers or serial actors commit suicide? - One male Mouseketeer, despondent over the loss of a child, committed suicide.
- Are any of the Mouseketeers or serial actors veterans? - Yes, though some served short enlistments in special units. Those with military experience include Tommy Cole and Tim Considine (USAF), Johnny Crawford, Larry Larsen, Don Grady and Tim Hartnagel (US Army), Dirk Metzger and Steve Stevens (USMC), Don Underhill (USN), and Jonathan Bailey (RAF). Among the ladies Doreen Tracey and Sherry Alberoni merit honorable mention for their USO service in Viet Nam and stateside.
- How can I contact my favorite Mouseketeer and/or serial actor? - See the Contact page.
- Does mailing a fan letter to the Disney studio really work? - Yes, though I can't guarentee every Mouseketeer or serial actor will respond. Some are more gracious than others in acknowledging their fan mail. One fellow who recently wrote his favorite female Mousekeeter was discouraged because he didn't hear anything back for nearly two months. Then one day his cell phone rang with an incoming call marked "Private". He was astonished and delighted to hear a familiar voice say "Hi, this is _________" and enjoyed a fifteen-minute conversation with her.
- How many people visit this site? - Hard to say. The site used to average well over a million hits per month, coming from something like 18,000 to 22,000 unique IP addresses, but as the years go by there has been a gradual downward trend to where the stats are now only half of what they used to be.
- Do you make any money from this site? - A Mouseketeer recently quizzed me on this subject, and I was hard put to convince her that the site does not make any money. On the contrary, I spend about a hundred dollars a year on web hosting services and considerably more than that to acquire new photos, videos, and other items for the site.
- Do many people write in, and what about? - Since creating this FAQ the mail has trailed off considerably. Before that lots of guys would write asking about Darlene, and lots of gals would write asking about Annette. There were many inquiries about forthcoming DVD releases and requests for estimating the value of collectible items. Some folks were convinced someone they used to know was a Mouseketeer and asked why they weren't listed on the Cast page. Mail still comes from people offering information about relatives who performed or worked on the show or cast members they knew as adults. The ones I really treasure are those willing to take the time to correct my mistakes. But I enjoy hearing from everybody, even the occasional Mousekatroll.
- Where do you get your information from? - Largely from published print and internet sources, and from occasional research in major libraries. Emails from Mouseketeers, serial actors, and relatives of crew members who worked on the show have also added a lot of information to the site.
- What do the Mouseketeers and serial actors think of the website? - The reaction has been surprisingly positive from those who have written. There are definitely some who would prefer I mind my own business, and a few who think I deserve a severe kick in the rump.
- Can I contact a Mouseketeer or serial actor through this website? - No. For one thing I don't have contact information for most of these folks and for another, its highly important the Disney Studio knows that Mouseketeers still have fans. By writing them through the studio you may be helping tip the balance towards another DVD release.
- I have a collectible item to sell, can you give any advice on it? - I'm not a collector of things myself, and outside of the MMC my knowledge of Disneyana is nil. However I will offer a free guess about the possible date and selling value of items connected with the original show. The estimate is worth what you pay for it.
- Why isn't there more information about you on this site? - I'm not a Mouseketeer.
- Who is your favorite Mouseketeer? - The one with the ears.