The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show

Road Trip #5: Gale's Restaurant, Pasadena California, September 18, 2019

"Road Trips" is an irregular series of articles on contemporary visits to places and events of interest to fans of the original Mickey Mouse Club. Our correspondent Randall Nakashima catches up with three Mouseketeers at a restaurant in Pasadena, California.


Mouseketeers Nancy Abbate Caldwell, Mary Espinosa Goff, and Judy Harriet Richman got together for lunch at a restaurant in Pasadena to discuss their days on the Mickey Mouse Club and catch up on events in their lives. Superfluous to all this was the presence of your correspondent and, in a surprise appearance, your Webmaster.

For those who are as shocked as I am, your Webmaster came out to California on family business, and decided that this was a good time to get together with some of the Mouseketeers. I won't go into the logistics except to say it wasn't easy. I can't tell you what was discussed because I don't really know, except that between the three ladies, I felt like a spectator in a game of verbal ping pong.

The best I can do is to provide some snippets of the conversation. Some are responses to questions I tried to ask, some were raised by the Mice, and other parts are just plain chat. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Nancy told Jimmie that she had a friend named Mary Sartori who was a great dancer and that she really should get an audition.
  • Nancy also recalled that a number of the Mice received written instructions to report to Burch Mann's studio in Alhambra, but she was left out. (This was apparently for the newly chosen Red Team to learn the daily opening numbers). Jimmie, noticing she was somewhat disappointed told her, "Don't worry Nancy, you're in." She did have to do some catching up later to learn the numbers.
  • I showed the Mice a photograph from A Day in the Life of Donald Duck (left), shown on Walt Disney's weekly program, but no one remembered much. (It was the only photo I knew of with all of them together). Nancy did recall they got to watch Lady and the Tramp in the studio screening room which is seen in the episode.
  • No one ever heard Bronson called Sharon, or for that matter, even knew that it was her real name.
  • Judy remembered the sailor suit she was wearing in the photograph of the parade rehearsal for Disneyland's opening day.
  • Judy told the others that she had a record contract and appeared in some movies after the MMC. Seems like the Mouseketeers don't visit this site much. (Editor's note: They only read their own profiles).
  • Mary remembered sitting alone waiting for her father in a restaurant on the ground floor under Burch Mann's studio in Alhambra. Darlene told me she took the bus there alone on weekends. A different time the '50's.

  • Mary also said that she was grateful to Lonnie for making her a part of the Disneyland 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2005. What she really enjoyed was that she got a chance to dance, which she didn't get much of a chance to do on the show.
  • Just the same, Mary says she enjoyed meeting and interfacing with the Guest Stars.
  • Nobody remembered any notable boy-girl crushes among the Mouseketeers, suggesting that Annette and Lonnie were a Second Season phenomenon.
  • During their conversation, the Mice freely noted who was on the Red Team or Blue Team. Lonnie, on the other hand, says he wasn't aware of color teams while Ron Steiner positively states he was on the Blue Team. Bonni Kern states that she was on the White (Friendly Farmers) Team. My personal belief now is that Color Teams were formed at the show's inception but evolved over the course of the show
  • Everyone remembered the Rooney brothers running around and being disciplinary problems before they were terminated, and further that they were unexceptional at singing or dancing.
  • In my continuing efforts to corrupt a Mouseke-girl (last time I saw Darlene I ordered her two Margaritas), I feel some satisfaction in that I ordered a vodka gimlet for Nancy and got the usually vegetarian Mary to have some of Judy's meat lasagna. Granted, this isn't much, but I still consider it some progress. It may be that the ladies were swept up in the emotion of being taken out by two such faithful fans and lost control.


If the above doesn't sound like much, I will note that less than half of the days' conversation concerned the Mickey Mouse Club. I will also note that Adult Mouseketeers are no more immune from financial, health or personal concerns than the rest of us. The four-year old in me has a hard time accepting this, but the adult in me, and the Mouseketeers, know it's true.

As we were walking back to our cars, Judy told me that when the three of them were finally sitting down and talking, it was like they had picked up right where they had left off, and nothing had ever happened.

It's true. I felt it. It was more than friendship, it was the bond of a common, unique experience that will never be duplicated. I think Jimmie felt it too, dating back to the very first number the Mouseketeers performed on television, when he wrote:

      As we continue through the years
      We won't forget the Mouseketeers---

This is not to say that there were no differences or spats: I personally know of several, but in spite of all that and the passing of sixty years, they can still meet and enjoy each other's company. Sort of an adult version of "Fun for All and All for Fun!"

I think that's pretty special.

Contact Info | ©2019 Randall Nakashima