The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Mickey Mouse Club Serials: The Adventures of Spin and Marty


The most popular serial ever shown on the original Mickey Mouse Club was a low-key story about fourteen boys spending the summer on a ranch. The two central characters were an orphaned rich boy, and a cool, lower middle-class kid with no father. Their rocky path to friendship, and their interaction with the other boys, horses, and adults on the Triple R made a lasting impression on viewers.

The release of a DVD for The Adventures of Spin and Marty has satisfied a long felt need among many fans of the show, but it also has removed some of the nostalgic mystique felt for the serial when it was still just a hazy memory. It is probably no coincidence that the Spin and Marty website has now shut the corral gate after many years of operation.

Synopsis

Col. Jim Logan, owner of the Triple R ranch, has hired Bill Burnett to be a counselor for a new batch of boys arriving for the summer. One in particular has him worried, a wealthy orphan named Martin Markham, who will be coming to camp for the first time. Burnett can handle the younger new kids and returnees like Spin Evans, but he's at a loss at what to do with Marty, who carries a chip on his shoulder. Marty's disdain for the Triple R masks his fear of horses and alienation from the other boys. Wrangler Ollie helps Marty overcome the former, while laid-back Ambitious becomes Marty's first friend.

The natural alliances of Marty, Ambitious, and the new kids versus Spin, Joe, and the returnees, brought out by the snipe hunt and the Haunted Valley incidents, gradually gives way to a united effort by all the Triple R campers to compete against the rival North Fork boys in a rodeo. Al's coaching of Marty in roping, and the tricks Ollie and Marty teach Sky Rocket, help the Triple R team to victory. Marty, confident in his own achievements, is now ready to accept Spin's overtures of friendship, as all the boys meet for the last campfire of the season.

Episode Guide

Episode         Orig Air Date          
                     
      An Introduction         Nov   4, 1955          
1.   The Triple R         Nov   7, 1955          
2.   The Misfit         Nov   8, 1955          
3.   The White Stallion         Nov   9, 1955          
4.   A Froggy Day         Nov 10, 1955          
5.   The Battle         Nov 11, 1955          
6.   A Surprise Decision         Nov 14, 1955          
7.   Homesick         Nov 15, 1955          
8.   Logan's Lesson         Nov 16, 1955          
9.   The Chase         Nov 17, 1955          
10. Ride-Em-Cowboy         Nov 18, 1955          
11. The Snipe Hunt         Nov 21, 1955          
12. The Secret Ride         Nov 22, 1955          
13. Tragedy!         Nov 23, 1955          
14. Perkins' Decision         Nov 24, 1955          
15. Tossing the Calf         Nov 25, 1955          
16. Rope Artist         Nov 28, 1955          
17. Nothing Happens on a Sunday         Nov 29, 1955          
18. Perkins and the Bear         Nov 30, 1955          
19. Runaway!         Dec   1, 1955          
20. Haunted Valley         Dec   2, 1955          
21. The Live Ghost         Dec   5, 1955          
22. The Big Rodeo         Dec   6, 1955          
23. Off on the Wrong Foot         Dec   7, 1955          
24. Sky Rocket's Trick         Dec   8, 1955          
25. The Last Campfire         Dec   9, 1955          


Notes

The book Marty Markham, written by Lawrence Edward Watkin, was first published in 1942. It was a slim volume, aimed at juveniles, and comprised no more than a half-dozen incidents used in the serial. Watkin would later be employed by Disney, writing original screenplays and doing adaptations for some of the studio's best live-action films, like Treasure Island (1950), The Light in the Forest (1958), and Darby O' Gill and the Little People (1959). However, another writer, Jackson Gillis, was assigned to do the teleplay for Watkin's own book.

Gillis expanded the story four-fold, while retaining the core events of the original book. He also retained the characters of Spin, Burnett, Ollie, Logan, Perkins, Russell the Muscle, Biff and Pinky, but slightly changed the characters of Marty and Ambitious. Marty in the book was a stronger, tougher character, less arrogant, and a bit wiser. Gillis appears to have split the book's character of Ambitious into the serial characters of Al and Ambitious. He also expanded Spin's part from a secondary role, originally only in the frog and boxing scenes, to a major character. All other characters in the serial were invented by Gillis.

The book described the Triple R as being four hundred miles from San Francisco, where Marty lived. Spin was from Cincinnati, and Ambitious was from Alabama. Gillis removed these geographical references, and the character of Mrs. Logan as well. He updated the time period from 1940 to the contemporary present, and made all the characters older than the twelve-year olds in the book. He also, somewhat inexplicably, changed Colonel Logan's military service with Jim Markham (Marty's father) from the Army to the Navy, rendering his rank nonsensical. (It is plain the setting is not one of those states where the honorary title of "Colonel" is bestowed).

The treatment by Gillis was a rare instance of a teleplay being superior to the original book. This was due in part to his giving distinct personalities to the supporting characters, creating a story in which all fourteen boys and the seven main adults had identifiable traits. Jackson took an ensemble approach to his characters, unlike his colleague Lillie Hayward, whose New Adventures of Spin and Marty and Annette serial were peopled with extras, filling up the background without lines or discernable personalities.

In a 1998 article published in the journal Persistence of Vision, Disney archivist Dave Smith revealed that the thrust of Gillis' teleplay was changed as a result of a casting decision made in May 1955. Watkin's book concentrates on Marty as the central character. After Tim Considine auditioned for the part of Marty, he decided he didn't want to play a stuck-up kid; instead, he persuaded his agent and the producers to cast him as the "cool guy", Spin Evans. The teleplay was renamed from Marty Markham to The Adventures of Spin and Marty, and the character of Spin was given more screen time. However, it is still apparent that the central character was Marty, with Ambitious as his best friend. Most of Spin's scenes and dialogue are extraneous to the main plotline.

Pete Lyons was originally assigned to direct this serial, but asked to be relieved to work on a film project. In early July 1955, William Beaudine Sr took over as director. Filming started July 13 at the Golden Oak Ranch in Newhall, about forty-five minutes northwest of Burbank. The actors were brought in every day from the studio by chartered bus. The Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, somewhat closer to Burbank, was also used. An actor's strike in August delayed production for a week; filming completed on September 3rd.

Stan Jones, who played counselor Frank, wrote The Triple R Song, Goodnight Little Wrangler, the campfire song, and some incidental music for this serial. He came to Disney through actor Harry Carey Jr, who had met him on a John Ford picture. Stan's most famous song was Ghost Riders in the Sky, which he wrote in 1948.

William Lava and Robert Jackman wrote the opening theme music for the serial, called Riding West. This was perhaps the most memorable part of the Spin and Marty series. Bill Lava and Stan Jones would collaborate that same summer on writing the theme song for the television western Cheyenne. Bob Jackman was one of the Disney Music Department's most prolific composers; he specialized in small bits of music, called cues, that were adapted from longer works as lead-ins or exits from scenes.

Dee Aaker, who played Russell the Muscle, shouldn't be confused with his younger brother, child actor Lee Aaker, who played Corporal Rusty on Rin-Tin-Tin from 1954-59. Because Lee Aaker is so well known, he is often mistakenly credited with appearing on Spin and Marty.

Dale Hartleban, who played Biff Brownlee, was in the movie Miss Baker's Dozen (1954) with Tim Considine and David Stollery. He later produced the Oscar-winning documentary, The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975).

Brad Morrow, who played little Louie, was a former MGM contract player who made sixteen films and appeared in episodes of over twenty-five different television series during his twenty years in show business. He really was thirteen in this serial, as he claimed to the other boys. He passed away due to cancer in 1997.

Credits

Cast



Actor         Role
Tim Considine         Spin Evans
David Stollery         Martin "Marty" Markham
Lennie Geer         Ollie
J. Pat O'Malley         Perkins
Harry Carey         Bill Burnett
Sammy Ogg         Joe Simpson
B. G. Norman         Ambitious
Roger Broaddus         Freddie
Brand Stirling         Alfred "Al" MacGrath
Dee Aaker         Russell the Muscle
Roy Barcroft         Col. Jim Logan
Tim Hartnagel         Clarence "Speckle" Smith
Dale Hartleban         Biff Brownlee
Jim Carlson         Mike "Pinky" Mallory
Brad Morrow         Louie
Pat Miller         Rick
Stan Jones         Frank
Joseph "Bucko" Stafford1         Gerald
Sammee Tong         George2
Bill Waters         Spike
George Eldredge         Dr. Spaulding
Betty Hanna         Freddie's mother
Connie Van         Joe's mother
Tom Martin         Chaffeur

Notes
1. Thanks to Dave from Rancho Mirage for supplying correct name
2. The cook, who according to the credits is supposed to be called "George", is referred to in the serial by himself and others as "Sam", the name of the actor who played him (Sammee Tong).

Crew



Bill Walsh         Producer
Louis Debney         Assistant to the Producer
Ben Chapman         Production Manager
William Beaudine Sr         Director
Pete Lyons         Director Pre-production (uncredited)
Lawrence Watkin         Writer (original story)
Jackson Gillis         Writer (teleplay)
Robert G. Shannon         Assistant Director
William Beaudine Jr         Assistant Director
Vincent McEveety         Assistant Director
William Lava         Theme Song
Robert K. Jackman         Theme Song
Stan Jones         Songs (uncredited)
Paul Smith         Music
Buddy Baker         Music
Bruce Bushman         Art Director
Marvin Aubrey Davis         Art Director
Edward Colman, A.S.C.         Director of Photography
Gordon Avil, A.S.C.         Director of Photography
Cotton Warburton, A.C.E.         Film Editor
Al Teeter, A.C.E.         Film Editor
George Nicholson, A.C.E.         Film Editor
Joseph S. Dietrick         Film Editor
Robert O. Cook         Sound
Bertram Granger         Set Decorator
Fred MacLean         Set Decorator
Chuck Keehne         Costumes
Joe Hadley         Make-up

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