Larry Larsen (1939-2018)
The Oldest Mouseketeer
Larry was hired as a replacement for the second season, and remained with the show for only one year. He was a Blue Team member, a dance specialist, who could also act. He was in several television series before and after leaving the Mickey Mouse Club, and is now a retired engineer.
Larry Lynn Larsen was born in Houston, Texas, on September 3rd, 1939, the only child of Ray and Alice Larsen. His very brief Disney press releases simply described
him as being a specialist in tap and modern jazz dancing, who could sing and act as well.
Larry auditioned for the show in the spring of 1956. Sixteen at the time, he had already reached his full heighth (as an adult he is the shortest of all the male mice). Technically he was outside the age parameters the casting agents asked for, but he impressed the audition judges enough for them to waive the age limit. He was an athletic guy who played tennis and baseball, and was a rifle enthusiast. He had done some theater and television work prior to joining the show. He told an interviewer in 2005 that he wasn't nervous at the auditions, which would start with a hundred kids, then be halved with each callback until there were only one or two left.
As a Blue team member, Larry's primary assignments should have been the Circus Day and Guest Star Day audiences. Director Sid Miller, a small guy himself, was impressed with Larry's dancing and stage prescence (though not his singing) and appears to have unoffically promoted him (along with the equally talented Margene Storey) to the Red Team.
It's unfortunate that few of the second season production numbers are available on DVD, for Larry was one of the best male dancers to ever appear on the show. He was used in most dance numbers filmed that year, including Roll Up the Rug, Sweetshop 1925, Edelweiss Polka, and Holiday in Hawaii among others. Lonnie Burr says that Larry "was a solid dancer", one of the top five on the show's three year run. One memorable jazz routine had Larry, Bobby, and Lonnie as sailors, a sort of Mouseketeer version of On the Town.
Larry enjoyed his six-month stay on the show. (Replacements were hired in April and let go at the end of September, so that most of their tenure would be during the summer months when California state law didn't require schooling). He was paid $300 a week, more than the usual for replacements, perhaps because of his age and experience. He is one of the few Mouseketeers that says Walt Disney did visit the set often, and he has expressed admiration for his decision to use 35mm film for shooting the show.
After leaving the Mickey Mouse Club in October 1956, Larry appeared in episodes of the ABC westerns Maverick and Colt .45, and the NBC's The Californians. His most prominent television role was as the guest star for an episode of the ABC rural comedy The Real McCoys. He played a thirteen year old, though he was actually eighteen at the time and a high school graduate.
Larry used his show business money to finance his education, going for two years to Santa Monica Community College, than transferring to New Mexico State for a Bachelors degree. He then obtained a Masters degree in mechanical engineering at USC. After college he worked for Rocketdyne on the Geminii project for NASA and later, local government in Los Angeles, designing and developing early pollution control equipment.
Despite the fact that Larry was living in Los Angeles, the Disney Studio was unable to locate him for the 20th Anniversary celebration activities in 1975. They did find him in time for the 25th Anniversary in 1980, and he appeared on the televised reunion.
In the late eighties Larry and some partners opened a consulting firm that provided advice on energy conservation and efficiency to utility companies in New Mexico and around the southwest. By the mid-nineties Larry had shifted to part-time consulting, and soon after retired. Larry was a resident of the southwestern town of La Cortez, Colorado, from 1986 until he passed away on May 30th, 2018.