The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show

Hollywood Christian Professional Group

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans founded an evangelical Christian group for Hollywood professionals in 1950. It was this group that inspired the conversion of Jimmie Dodd and Ruth Carrell when they joined around 1951, and it was another member, Disney animator Bill Justice, who later brought Jimmie to the studio. Steve Stevens also mentions having joined this group in his memoir King of Sunset Strip.

The Full Picture

Sometime in early 1964 this group recorded an LP (Warner 1526) of Christian music. The photo shown here comes from the album cover for that record. Sitting smiling in front row center is Cheryl Holdridge. She also had her name listed right after Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in big type above the photo, and another photo on the back with a testimonial about God's role in her life. All this, and she doesn't even sing on the album. (Thankfully, perhaps; best buddy Doreen says Cheryl was no nightingale).

Folks who do sing on this record include Jimmie Dodd and Ruth Carrell (on Jimmie's left) and Talent Roundup winner Pamela Beaird (seated next to Cheryl). Another Talent winner in this photo was folksinger Cathy Taylor. It may surprise some that Cheryl was a member of this group; she never mentioned it in any interviews, and nobody else mentioned her as belonging to it. But it does explain how she knew Jimmie was in the hospital dying when she visited Hawaii on her honeymoon, just nine months after this photo was taken.

Hollywood Professional School

Journeying ten years further back to the 1954-55 school year, we see a class of ninth graders at the Hollywood Professional School. Auditions for the Mickey Mouse Club are still a few months away. Sitting in the foreground and looking a bit outsized by their classmates are Sammy Ogg and Lonnie Burr. Sammy, like the other kids, is around fifteen; Lonnie is eleven. It must have been depressing for the other guys to share a class with Lonnie. Not only was he brighter than everyone else, but he dressed better too.

Moving down the grade scale we encounter a quartet of ten year olds: future serial actors, Duncan Richardson and Roberta Shore, and future talent winners Penni and Patti Pollock (The Twin Tones). These fifth graders also attended HPS, though Roberta would later switch to the San Gabriel public schools. Penni and Lonnie were an item in 1956, right after he broke up with Annette; read about it in Confessions of an Accidental Mouseketeer.

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