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Tag Archives: Mouseketeer

August 17

August 17, 1992 – Annette Funicello Appears on the Cover of People Magazine

“To the first wave of kiddies raised on TV, she was simply Annette – the name emblazoned in block letters across the front of her memorable Mouseketeers turtleneck.”

On August 17, 1992, famed Mouseketeer Annette Funicello appeared on the cover of People Magazine, announcing that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Funicello had been suffering from the disease since 1987, and told the interviewer that she history of how she discovered she had the disease, how quickly the disease flared up, and how the tabloids came looking for answers, thinking she had a drinking problem or worse. This interview was Funicello’s way of bringing attention to the disease, as well as clearing up any rumors of her personal life.

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.