The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Ronnie Steiner         Nov 21, 1942

The Steiner Brothers

Ron joined the Mickey Mouse Club in the first season as a dancer. A show business veteran, he took a pay cut when hired by Disney. Placed on the Blue Team, he soon missed performing with his brothers, and declined to renew his option.

Background

Ronald Steiner was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the middle son of three. His parents were Madge Stofford and Ralph Steiner, who had performed in vaudeville together. Ron's brothers were Roy, two years older, and Rob, two years younger. When Roy developed club feet, his parents made him take tap dance lessons to correct the condition. Ron and Rob also took them, the three boys being very close to each other.

In 1952 their aunt, also a former vaudeville dancer, got a job dancing on the Colgate Comedy Hour, for the shows hosted by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. She persuaded the family to move to Los Angeles, where the boys went to a holiday party and cookout at the Martin house. Asked to show off their tap dancing for the other guests, they were immediately recruited by an agent who was there. They began doing performances at live venues, and for local television variety and amateur shows.

Performance

Ron Steiner may have been hired as a replacement for Paul Peterson or the Rooney brothers. He and fellow replacement Mouseketeer Dick Dodd seem to have joined the show after the July 17, 1955 debut at Disneyland. Why the directors after taking the trouble to hire an excellent dancer, then let him sit around on the Blue Team watching guest stars and circus acts, is a mystery. This inactivity may have contributed to his discontent with the show, and explain why he left.

Ron did get a few chances to interact with guest stars like Morey Amsterdam and Hank Penny, even doing some comic repartee with the latter. Ron had excellent timing and could deliver his lines clearly, which garnered him more speaking parts than most Blue Team members.


Among his few dance numbers was a short tap segment as one of a quartet of waiters at the Golden Horseshoe Revue. Ironically, his longest dance performance on camera came after he left the show; the Steiner Brothers were Talent Round-Up winners in the second season.

Like other Mouseketeers, Ron had to take part in the Mickey Mouse Club Circus at Disneyland after the first season filming completed in early November 1955. Ron left the show in January 1956, just after the Circus closed. He told a Canadian interviewer in the 1990's that he felt guilty about being paid while his brothers weren't working, and took the first opportunity to decline an option renewal.

Aftermath

Within a short time after leaving the show, Ron and his brothers revived their act with a television performance on the The Dinah Shore Show. With a new manager to replace the one who sent him to Disney, they were soon working in Las Vegas as an opening act for performers like George Burns, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Hope. (Nevada laws for teenage performers were more flexible than other states, allowing them to do their acts in casino lounges where alcohol was served). The boys received $750 a week; even split three ways, this was more for Ron than the $185 weekly salary from Disney, and he didn't have to worry about the $50 fine for losing his "ears".

When in Los Angeles all three boys attended Hollywood Professional School, from which Ron graduated in 1960. The brothers appeared in the Bing Crosby-Debbie Reynolds musical film Say One for Me (1959), along with ex-Mouseketeer Judy Harriet. (Their dance routine unfortunately wound up on the cutting room floor). That same year they had television appearences on The Gary Moore Show and The George Burns Show.

Like any act, they had their slack periods, when bookings were rare. One such period occurred during the early sixties, when the youngest brother was still in high school, limiting their ability to travel the nightclub circuit. Instead they performed with other ex-mice in the 'Teen magazine troupe at a variety of events in Southern California. From 1963 on they began performing at clubs accross the country, while appearing on television for The Ed Sullivan Show and specials with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the rest of the Rat Pack.

Ron continued dancing with his brothers up to the early eighties, when injuries and changing times brought an end to their performances on the nightclub circuit. At their height in the 1960's they made $3,500 a week, and were once booked for a year straight at the Playboy Club in New York City.

Ron retired to Winnipeg, married a local girl, and began working as a medical technician at a hospital. He took part in the 25th Anniversary Show for the Mickey Mouse Club, televised in 1980, and attended the 1997 "Angel in Show Business" award party for Annette.

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