1 9 5 5 – 1 9 5 9 (USA)
60/30 minute episodes
Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?
The Mickey Mouse Club debuted in 1955 and was an immediate hit with the younger audience. The show typified the Disney approach to everything – each show was an extravaganza, with song-and-dance numbers, cartoons, serial adventures and homilies.
There were adult hosts – guitar player Jimmie Dodd and Roy Williams, a big bear of a man who was a Disney animator – but the real stars were the Mousketeers, a group of 24 children wearing turtle-neck tops with their names printed on them and mouse-ear hats. At the time, every American child watching wished they could have joined that group.
Each day had a song and a special theme.
The sight of Mickey seated at a piano meant it was Monday and “Fun with Music Day”; Tuesday found Mickey in a tuxedo for “Guest Star Day”; A flying carpet carrying Mickey in a sorcerer’s outfit meant it was “Anything Can Happen Day” on Wednesday; Thursday’s “Circus Day” found Mickey dressed as a ringmaster, and Friday was “Talent Round-Up Day”, with Mickey outfitted in cowboy duds.
Jimmie may have been the nominal host, but it was Mickey’s club, and each show featured an animated bit with Mickey talking to young viewers (voiced by Jim MacDonald).
Time to twist our Mouseke-dial to the right and left with a great big smile
This is the way we get to see a mouse cartoon for you and me
Meeska, Mooseka, Mouseketeer – Mouse Cartoon Time is now here
“From the far corners of the Earth; from across the Seven Seas, the stories of today for the leaders of tomorrow” signalled the beginning of “The Mickey Mouse Club Newsreel” (reported by Hal Gibney). “Fun with a Camera” was a segment with photographer Earl Kyser teaching the Mouseketeers aspects of photography. Daily serials – all produced by Disney – included Spin and Marty; Border Collie; Corky and White Shadow; and The Hardy Boys.
Other segments included the animated Jiminy Cricket in safety segments for children and “Sooty and His Friend Harry Corbett” (Harry was the straight man for his non-speaking hand puppet, Sooty, who played songs on his electric organ).
Jimmie Dodd, who played the Mouseguitar (especially made by the Mattel Toy Company), concluded each show with a “Words of Wisdom” segment. For example, Jimmie, holding a rubber band, would say, “You know, Mouseketeers, this rubber band is a lot like truth. You can twist it, but it will always come back the way it was. It is strong, but you can stretch it. The more you stretch it, the thinner it gets. Finally, you can’t stretch it any further, and it’s so thin you can’t hold it – and that’s the time it’s going to snap back. And when it does, you’re the one that’s been hurt. The truth is just the same as it was. You haven’t changed it, but by twisting and stretching it, you’ve hurt yourself.”
The memorable series ran in 30 and 60-minute formats daily and on Saturdays and enjoyed a long run (or re-run) in syndication after its expiration in 1959.
An updated version of The Mickey Mouse Club was produced in 1989 with a new generation of Mousketeers, including Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company
M-I-C (see you real soon)
K-E-Y (why? Because we like you)
Carl “Cubby” O’Brien
Bonni Lynn Fields
Jay Jay Solari
Billie Jean Beanblossom
Bonnie Lou Kern
Mary Lou Sartori
John Lee Johnson
Mickey Rooney Jr
Don Grady (Agrati)
Jiminy Cricket (voice)
Mickey Mouse (voice)