The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Books About The Mickey Mouse Club

The Official Mickey Mouse Club Book
by Lorraine Santoli
Forward by Annette Funicello

Hyperion, New York 1995
232 Pages, B/W Photos, Appendices, Index

Lorraine, a diehard fan of the show as a kid, was a Disney executive when she wrote this book. She had started in Public Relations in the late seventies, and spent many years shepherding Mouseketeers from one public appearance to another. Later she became Director of Corporate Special Projects, but as she puts it "...all queries about the original Mouseketeers ultimately get directed to me." If you
approach this book knowing it represents the official Disney line, and that anything suggesting controversy or alternate viewpoints has been smoothed away, you will appreciate its thoroughness.

To give Lorraine her due, she has given the reader detailed views of subjects not covered by previous writers, including the original personal appearance tours, marketing and merchandising, and publicity campaigns from the show's various runs. She recounts interviews with Jean Seaman, the main teacher for the kids on the studio lot, and provides a wealth of information on their educational experiences. She also gives attention to Bob Amsberry, the third adult leader, and sheds some light on his early dismissal.

The book gives the official views for both the show's inception, with Walt's hand guiding every phase, and for its demise, which Lorraine reasonably suggests, rather than insists, was the fault of ABC. She gives the network's position that it couldn't find enough sponsors to support the show's cost, as well as Walt's opinion that there were too many commercials. The show's stress on educational entertainment is discussed, as is the cross-marketing of Disney products, including Disneyland, built into the show.

Like it's predecessor, Keith Keller's Mickey Mouse Club Scrapbook (1975), the book is filled with photos, mostly candid shots not seen in other books or magazines. Though the book's smaller physical dimensions means the photos aren't individually as impressive as in Keller's work, their sheer number and exclusiveness are worth the cost alone. However, in their selection there is distinct favoritism. The core group of nine who lasted all three seasons, and replacements Sherry Alberoni, Bonnie Fields, and Don Agrati get full treatment. All replacements from the later seasons get individual photos, but the original kids from the first year are invisible. Their names are given in a quick list, but the first season is barely represented in either photos or text. Lorraine is upfront about this, revealing in her introduction that she will concentrate on the Mouseketeers she personally knew.

Annette gets an entire chapter, and she and her mother appear in quotes throughout the book. Annette also wrote the forward, and Lorraine obviously has a close relationship with her. She is also friends with Sherry and Bobby, and recounts personal memories of them as well as quoting their experiences. For many of the other Mouseketeers, though, it's hard to tell if the author talked with them or simply compiled quotes from previous interviews.

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