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August 8

August 8, 1925 – Voice Actress and Disney Legend Ginny Tyler is Born

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“And I was raving away to Walt how wonderful Disneyland was, he said, ‘And that goes for my Disneyland Storyteller, too.’ I have never felt prouder in my entire life.”

On August 8, 1925, Merrie Virginia Erlandson was born in Berkeley, California; her family then moved to Seattle when she was a young girl. Steeped in a tradition of storytelling and imitations, Tyler began her career as a voice actor in the 1930s on the radio show Make Believe Island. By the 1950s, the show had been moved to television and renamed Magic Island. In the 1960s, Tyler was hired by the Disney Studios to narrate vinyl records for classic films Bambi and Babes in Toyland, and was known as one of the “Disneyland Storytellers.” Tyler was also a voice actress in several feature films, playing the amorous squirrel in The Sword in the Stone, several barnyard animals in Mary Poppins, and the bees in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. When the Mickey Mouse Club was in syndication, Tyler was hired as the Head Mouseketeer for the repackaged show, recording segments live from Disneyland’s Mickey Mouse Club Headquarters, located inside the Main Street Opera House. In 2006, Tyler was inducted as a Disney Legend. She passed away in 2012 at the age of 86,

July 30

July 30, 1907 – “Big Moosketeer,” Animator, and Disney Legend Roy Williams is Born

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“Walt knew I loved kids…that’s why he put me on a kids’ show. I’m a down-to-earth guy, but I never dreamed of the kind of pleasure that working with those kids brought me. “

On July 30, 1907, Roy Williams was born in Colville, Washington. His family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Freemont High School, and was hired by the Walt Disney Studios. He first animated shorts during the day, attending Chouinard Art Institute at night, and would later develop story ideas. He was also known as a publicity representative, as well as a popular caricaturist at Disneyland. Through his career, he developed a reputation as a talented and funny artist, which caught the attention of Walt Disney, who hired him as one of the hosts of the Mickey Mouse Club. Williams also created the Mickey Mouse Ears that the kids wore, based on a Mickey Mouse short film where Mickey removed his ears to greet Minnie. Although Williams couldn’t sing or dance, he was popular thanks to humor and warmth. Williams stayed with the studio until the 1970s, and passed away on November 7, 1976. He was inducted into the Disney Legends in 1992.

July 14

July 14, 1946 – Original Member of the Mickey Mouse Club Cubby O’Brien is Born

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“I was playing drums in a little Dixieland band…and we did a show at the Screen Actors Guild during Christmas, and I was playing double bass drums flipping drumsticks, and I looked like I was about two years old. And some producers were there, and they got in touch with my dad and said they were putting this show together at Disney, and would I be interested in auditioning. So that’s how it happened for me.”

On July 14, 1946, Carl Patrick O’Brien was born in Burbank, California. His father was well-known drummer Haskell O’Brien, who performed with several big band era ensembles. Cubby learned drumming from his father, and brought his skills to a show at the Screen Actors Guild, where he was spotted by Disney producers. Although he was considered for a guest spot on “Talent Round Up Day,” when they had spotted fellow Mouseketeer Karen Pendleton, they thought the two young children would make a great matched set of Mouseketeers. O’Brien was one of the few that earned a key spot on the “Red Team” and remained on the team through all three seasons of the show. After the show ended, he went with the main Mouseketeers on a tour in Australia from 1959 to 1960. After his work at Disney, he joined the cast of The Lawrence Welk show, then toured with Spike Jones and his band. He has also worked in the orchestra for several Broadway musicals, including The Producers, and the Bernadette Peters revivals of Gypsy and Annie Get Your Gun.

May 19

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May 19, 1941 – Dancer, Singer, and Mouseketeer Bobby Burgess is Born

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“After being in seventy-five amateur shows, I was ready for a job where I’d just be dancing. I wanted to pay my dues and get some professional experience.”

On May 19, 1941, Robert Wilkie Burgess was born in Long Beach, California. He first began dancing and playing the accordion at age 5, and when he auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club at age 13, he had already won several amateur talent competitions with his tap and jitterbugging skills. At his audition, he was prepared to audition for acting more than dancing, reading for a role in the upcoming serial The Adventures of Spin and Marty. However, the role had already been cast, and Burgess was directed to the Mousketeer auditions instead. He auditioned with a barefoot jazz number to “Rock Around the Clock,” and won a coveted role on the show. After the show ended, he moved back to his parents’ house in Long Beach and was one of the few Mouseketeers to have a smooth transition from child star to normal adult. He entered a dance contest with his girlfriend, winning the chance to star on The Lawrence Welk Show, and stayed on the show until its final episodes in 1982. Burgess currently runs a dance studio in Long Beach that specializes in ballroom dancing.

April 8

April 8, 1941 – Child Actress, Singer, and Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie is Born

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The Mickey Mouse Club would provide a chance for the world to at last partake of [Gillespie’s] God-given vocal talent.” – Jennifer Armstong,author of Why? Because We Still Like You: An Oral History of The Mickey Mouse Club.

On April 8, 1941, Darlene Faye Gillespie was born in Montreal, Canada. At the age of two, her family moved to Los Angeles, California. She began singing lessons at age 10 after moving the church congregation to tears, and began dance lessons at age 11. In 1955, Gillespie auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club, singing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” for her audition piece, and was hired at the tender age of fourteen. She was on the red-string team for all three seasons of the show, and starred in several serials, including Corky and White Shadow and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty. She began a recording career after the show was cancelled, but none of her singles, though critically acclaimed, became hits. She was also cast as Dorothy in a proposed live-action film based on the Oz stories by Frank L. Baum, but this film never came to fruition. After a few stints in television, Gillespie retired from acting to become a nurse. In 1997, she came back to the public view, as she and her husband, Jerry Fraschilla, were accused of shoplifiting, and in 1999 she was sentenced to two years in prison for fraud, thanks to her involvement in a check-kiting scheme with Fraschilla, but was released after three months. Gillespie found herself in trouble once again in 2005, as she and her husband were indicted for trying to defraud a company of nearly $320,000 in class-action settlement funds.

February 11

February 11, 1958 – The First Episode of the “Annette” Serial Premieres on the Mickey Mouse Club

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“All I know is the necklace is gone and that McCleod girl was the only one left in this room when we went out to supper!”

On February 11, 1958, the first episode of the “Annette” serial premiered on the Mickey Mouse Club. The serial was based on the novel Margaret by Janette Sebring Lowrey (known for Pokey Little Puppy), and was adapted by Lillie Hayward. It was renamed “Annette” to capitalize on the popularity of Annette Funicello, who played the lead role. The serial was filmed on the Walt Disney Studio lot; the animation studio served as the front of the high school. The serial was directed by Charles Lamont, and stars Tim Considine as Steve, David Stollery as Mike, Roberta Shore as Laura, Richard Deacon as Dr. McCleod, Sylvia Field as Lila McCleod, Mary Wickes as Katie, and Judy Nugent as Jet.

The first episode, entitled “An Introduction,” has the McCleod housekeeper, Katie, introducing the story of Annette and how she came to stay with the McCleods. Dr. McCleod lives with his sister, Lila, and they both are surprised one morning when their niece, Annette, arrives from Ashford, Nebraska. Katie explains that the McCleods had no idea that they even had a niece, as they had lost touch with their brother years ago. Although Dr. McCleod wasn’t too sure about having Annette stay with them, as neither he nor Lila knew anything about raising children, he changed his mind and allowed her to stay instead of shipping her off to boarding school.

Annette makes a friend in Mike, who works at the malt shop

Annette makes a friend in Mike, who works at the malt shop

As she settles in, Annette begins to meet people and make friends in the town. She had met Stephen Abernathy, the most popular boy in town, as she was on her way to the McCleods and asked him for directions to the house. Annette makes a friend in neighbor girl Jet, who provides the McCleods’ food from her family’s farm. When Lila takes Annette shopping, they meet Mrs. Abernathy, Lila’s best friend, and Mrs. Abernathy’s daughter, Val. Mrs. Abernathy invites Annette to Val’s party so she can meet other kids her age. Although Mrs. Abernathy decides to send Stephen to pick Annette up for the party, Stephen already has a date with his girlfriend, Laura, so she sends another boy named Olmstead Ware, who is nowhere near as polite as Stephen, and cares more about food than anything else in life. He asks Annette to swing by the malt shop, where they meet Mike, who becomes one of her closest friends.

The party is a success, until Laura’s necklace goes missing, and she immediately blames Annette for its disappearance, but Annette had left the party before the necklace had disappeared. Even at school, Laura continued to spread the rumor that Annette stole the necklace, partly because she was jealous of Annette being the new girl in town. Annette, hurt by the continuing attacks, decides to run away back to Nebraska. Katie then stops the story there, saying that she can’t reveal any more, but hopes that everyone will tune in again to find out what happens.

January 3

January 3, 1916 – Artist, Director, and Producer Louis “Lou” Debney is Born

Louis Debney as the associate producer for an episode of the Wonderful World of Color

Lou Debney as the associate producer for an episode of the Wonderful World of Color

“I stayed with the Cutting Department…it was then, while we were getting started on the preliminary story sketches and everything…that I was set up to be the man that would assemble all the tests from all the sequences in Snow White.”

On January 3, 1916, Louis Debney was born in Los Angeles, California. At the age of 18, Debney was hired by Disney to work in the Cutting Department, then located at the Hyperion Studio. Debney then became an assistant director on the first full-length feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with Ben Sharpsteen. With Sharpsteen’s assistance, Debney worked on the last black and white short film, Two-Gun Mickey, released in 1934. Debney continued to assist in directing several features and short films before becoming a producer for The Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro, and a production coordinator on the Disney anthology series, including The Wonderful World of Disney. Debney passed away at the age of 70 on April 11, 1986.

October 3

October 3, 1955 – The First Episode of The Mickey Mouse Club Premieres on ABC

“We are the Merry Mousketeers, Mouseketeers! We’ve got a lot above our ears, above our ears!”

On October 3, 1955, the first episode of The Mickey Mouse Club premiered on ABC. The series was a part of Walt Disney’s contract with ABC, which gave him the money needed to finance the building of Disneyland. The series was the second television series for Disney, and has become one of the most beloved television series ever released. The show was known for its animated opening and theme song, with Donald Duck having varying misfortunes as he struck a gong at the end. The show usually featured about 24 different Mouseketeers, with as many as 39 at one point. This series ran from 1955 to 1959.

The first episode, “Fun With Music Day,” begins with the Mickey Mouse Club Newsreel, which gives kids an idea of kids’ lives across the world. It starts in the Florida Everglades, where kids are on an airboat ride exploring the Everglades, the home of the Seminole Indians. The news then travels to Rome, where the Italians are celebrating Carnival. As they ride a merry-go-round, the kids play the song “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” from Cinderella on instruments. A world report follows, starting in London, where television star Sooty joins the Mickey Mouse Club. In Tokyo, veteran cameraman Henry Kotani brings the news of the Tokyo swim meet. Golden Oak Ranch is then shown, on location during the filming of The Adventures of Spin and Marty, then it’s going back to Burbank, where the camera shows the filming of Davy Crockett, following the cast on location to Kentucky. The camera then goes back to the Disney Studios, introducing the Mouseketeers.

The first showing of the Mousketeers, with hosts Jimmie and Roy

After a quick commercial break, the show returns, with host Jimmie Dodd introducing a tap dance routine by Mousketeers Don, Doreen, Darlene, Bobby, Annette, Lonnie, and Nancy. They are soon joined by Sharon, Mike, Karen, Cubby, Johnny, and Jimmie. Roy jumps in at the end before they sing an introduction song and the roll call. After this, the Mouseketeers present “A Mousekartoon Special” called The Friendly Farmers. They perform a song about farmers owning some animals, while a special guest acts out the animals.

The Mouseketeers then perform “The Shoe Song” with Roy drawing as they sing. Jimmie announces the Musketeers as they come in, performing in costumes ranging from clowns, to cowboys, to ballerinas. It ends with a “wedding” between Cubby and Karen, with several shoes tied to the back of their kart. This is then followed with a serial known as “What I Want To Be,” which explores the careers of a pilot and an airline hostess, as hosted by Alvy Moore. A young girl named Pat and a young boy named Duncan are taken to see what being a hostess and a pilot is really like, with the promise that the segment will continue the next day.

The title for the Mousekartoon, with one being shown every day

Following that is the Mousekartoon, presented by Karen. She lets the audience know that the cartoon that day is Pueblo Pluto, a short film originally released on January 14, 1949, with Jimmy MacDonald voicing Mickey. After the Mousekartoon, Jimmie steps on camera, introducing how the show will be set up from that episode forward, including the themes of the days of the week. After this, the Mouseketeers and Jimmie sing goodbye, and Mickey gives a goodbye as well.

April 24

April 24, 1989 – The New Mickey Mouse Club Premieres on the Disney Channel

Image Credit: UltimateDisney.com

On April 24, 1989, the third incarnation of the Mickey Mouse Club, later known as MMC, aired on the Disney Channel. The main difference between the original show and this updated reincarnation was that the Mickey Mouse element was highly de-emphasized in favor of the popular show trends of the day, which made the show lean more toward a Saturday Night Live format. The show premiered with twelve teenagers and two adults in the cast. Three members stayed with the show through its run: Josh Ackerman, Lindsey Alley, and Jennifer McGill; Tiffini Hale from the first season would return for the final season in 1995.

The show ended up as a launching point for many of today’s stars, including Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Ryan Gosling. The Mouseketeers would still continue to have theme days, including Music Day (Monday), Guest Day (Tuesday), Anything Can Happen Day (Wednesday), Party Day (Thursday), and Hall of Fame Day (Friday). Many new serials were released through the show, including Teen Angel, Teen Angel Returns, Just Perfect, Match Point, My Life as a Babysitter, Emerald Cove, and Treasure of Lost Creek.

January 18

January 18, 1941 – Birth of Disney Legend David Stollery.

David Stollery's title card from the serial Annette.

“I wonder how many Celica-driving ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ fans ever knew that ‘Marty’ designed their car?” – Tim Considine, Disney Legend and actor.

David John Stollery III was born January 18, 1941, in Los Angeles, into a show-business family, his father having been a radio announcer, and his mother a radio star while living in Portland, Oregon. At age seven, Stollery began his acting career by landing a role in a touring production of Medea, and was later voted Child Actor of the Year for his role in the production On Borrowed Time, starring actor Victor Moore. He appeared in several films, beginning with an uncredited role in the 1949 film A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and getting his big boost as a feature actor in the 1951 film, Darling, How Could You! His Disney roles, however, gave him the most prominence as an actor.

Walt Disney saw Stollery perform on an episode of The Ray Milland Show, playing a young genius, and was convinced that the boy would be perfect for the role of Marty Markham in the upcoming Mickey Mouse Club serial, “The Adventures of Spin and Marty,” co-starring Tim Considine as Spin. The serial was very popular, and Stollery was quickly signed for two more “Spin and Marty” serials: “The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty” in 1956, and “The New Adventures of Spin and Marty” in 1957. Stollery also appeared in a serial starring Annette Funicello, simply titled “Annette,” in which he played the character Mike Martin. He also acted in two feature films for Disney: Westward Ho the Wagons! in 1956, and Ten Who Dared in 1960.

Stollery as Marty Markham in The Adventures of Spin and Marty.

Unlike most child actors, Stollery did not pursue acting as a fulltime career, instead opting to study design at the Art Center College of Design, and becoming an auto designer for General Motors. In 1973, he was hired by Toyota to manage the automotive design group, Calty Design Research, designing the second generation of the A40 Series Toyota Celica in 1978.

Stollery has mostly stayed out of the spotlight since his Disney days. His most recent on-screen appearance was a documentary in 2005 on the Walt Disney Treasures set, The Adventures of Spin and Marty, in which Stollery and co-star Tim Considine explore the property that was used as the set for the Triple R Ranch and share their memories of performing on the show. He was inducted into the Disney Legends at the October 9, 2006 ceremony.