For the children born in the 60s, 70s, and 90s, the TV show called “The Mickey Mouse Club” has been an important part of their childhood. The variety show began airing in 1955, and because of the growing popularity of technology and the internet amongst children and teenagers, The Mickey Mouse Club currently exists as a series featured on social media apps like Facebook and YouTube instead of being aired on TV.
The Mickey Mouse Club is mostly notable for starting the careers of the biggest stars in showbiz, such as Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears. However, even before these celebrities began starring in many episodes of the show in the 90s, the Mickey Mouse Club has already been quite popular for children as well as adults since the 60s. Here is the history of the Mickey Mouse Club, from its conception to its resurgence on social media.
The “Real” Mickey Mouse Club (1930 to 1935)
Before the show aired in 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club already existed as a real club in the 1930s. The first Mickey Mouse Club Show was conducted at the Fox Dome Theater in Ocean Park, California, on January 11, 1930. In order to watch the show, people would have to become a member of the club.
After the first show, the Mickey Mouse Club will then go on to be hosted in more than 60 theaters in April of the same year. To keep members entertained even when there is no show, on April 15, 1930, Disney published the first “Official Bulletin of the Mickey Mouse Club.”
The club had about 1 million members by 1932. However, by 1935, Disney decided to cancel the theatrical Mickey Mouse Club.
The First Mickey Mouse Club TV Show (1955 to 1959)
In 1955, Disney signed a deal with ABC to air the first Mickey Mouse Club TV show. The ABC TV series was hosted by songwriter Jimmie Dodd, who is called the “Head Mouseketeer.” Other Mouseketeers were children who are collectively called the “Red Team.” There are a total of 39 Mouseketeers that appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club, but there are only nine who remained on the show for its entire run from 1955 to 1959, and these are Annette Funicello, Bobby Burgess, Cubby O’ Brien, Darlene Gillespie, Doreen Tracey, Karen Pendleton, Lonnie Burr, Sharon Baird, and Tommy Cole.
There are popular recurring serials that were aired within the Mickey Mouse Club Show, with some being the Walt Disney Presents: Annette serial, Spin and Marty, The Adventures of Clint and Mac, and The Hardy Boys, which is based on the popular book series created by Edward Stratemeyer.
Besides the serials, the show would have different themes for each day of the week. Monday is Fun with Music Day, Tuesday is Guest Star Day, Wednesday is Anything Can Happen Day, Thursday is Circus Day, and Friday is Talent Round-up Day.
The iconic opening theme used in the first show, as well as the other revivals of Mickey Mouse Club, “The Mickey Mouse March,” was composed by the Head Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd.
Despite its popularity, ABC canceled the Mickey Mouse Club in 1959 after a failed agreement with Disney in terms of the show’s renewal. After the cancellation, ABC then banned Disney from producing the show on other networks. However, ABC continued to air reruns of the show in 1962, with other stations also airing it until 1979.
The New Mickey Mouse Club (1977 to 1979)
Walt Disney Productions, along with SFM Entertainment, revived the Mickey Mouse Club in 1977 after winning the lawsuit against ABC. In “The New Mickey Mouse Club,” the opening theme was given a disco twist to follow the trend during that period. Also, the set of the TV show was given brighter colors as opposed to the first version that had simple colors that gave more emphasis for the characters on the screen.
Instead of showing unique serials, Disney opted to revive old Disney movies for most of the popular serials in The New Mickey Mouse Club. The serials include Emil and the Detectives, Tonka, Third Man on the Mountain, and Toby Tyler.
The themes for each week were changed as well for the first revival show. Monday was “Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How,” Tuesday was “Let’s Go,” Wednesday was “Surprise,” Thursday was “Discovery,” and Friday is the “Showtime Day” where members of the cast would go to Disneyland and perform musical or dance numbers.
There were 12 Mousketeers during the first revival run, with some being more popular than the others. The notable Mousketeers for The New Mickey Mouse Club are Kelly Parsons, Lisa Whelchel, and Julie Piekarski.
The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (1989 to 1994)
When The Disney Channel was launched in 1983, Disney scheduled to air reruns of the original Mickey Mouse Club for the channel to fill up airtime. The show quickly became popular, but the producers and executives at the Disney Channel thought that the TV series was outdated in terms of its camerawork and themes.
To make the Mickey Mouse Club more appealing to younger audiences, Disney sparked a second revival of the show under the name “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club.” In this new version of the TV series, the Mouseketeers are usually seen wearing special varsity jackets instead of the Mickey Mouse ears, which has been a staple accessory for the cast since the original show.
In the All-New Mickey Mouse Club, there were 35 Mouseketeers that appeared on the show in total. However, the most popular members, such as Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling, only starred on the show on its sixth and seventh seasons from 1993 to 1994.
The All-New Mickey Mouse Club continued to air on The Disney Channel until 1996, although the production for the TV series ended in 1994.
The Mickey Mouse Club in South Korea (2015)
Disney Channel Korea created its version of the Mickey Mouse Club show on July 23, 2015. The TV series was hosted by Leeteuk, the leader of the famous boy band Super Junior, and it starred trainees from SM Entertainment, such as Jaemin, Donghyuck, Jeno, Jisung, Mark, Koeun, Herin, Hina, and Lami.
The show only lasted five months, as it ended on December 17, 2015. Two of the Mouseketeers, namely Mark and Jaemin, will go on to debut in 2016 as members of a new boy band called NCT.
Club Mickey Mouse Malaysia (2017)
Disney Channel Asia premiered the Malaysian version of the Mickey Mouse Club on May 4, 2017. This version of the show is called “Club Mickey Mouse,” and it is hosted by Charis Ow, a vlogger who became famous for starring on her own YouTube channel.
As of 2020, there are seven Mouseketeers for Club Mickey Mouse Malaysia. Mouseketeer Natasya Hanafi left the show in 2018, and she was replaced by Ellya Keesha in the same year.
Club Mickey Mouse on Social Media (2017)
Due to the success of Club Mickey Mouse overseas, Disney created a reboot show on September 8, 2017. This time, each episode of Club Mickey Mouse is going to be uploaded on Facebook and Instagram.
The reboot is mostly considered as a reality show rather than a variety show, as almost all shots in the episodes were taken behind the scenes. In addition, the Mouseketeers are also noticeably older than the ones who starred in past versions of the Mickey Mouse Club.
The influence of the Mickey Mouse Club in the entertainment industry should not be taken for granted, as it not only helped audiences learn new things and have fun at the same time, but it also became a stepping stone for children who wanted to become stars in the future. Despite the many revivals and reboots, the Mickey Mouse Club will continue to become relevant as long as there are children who wanted to watch entertaining shows featuring kids like them and Mickey Mouse as well.
Interesting Facts About the Mickey Mouse Club
The Mickey Mouse Club revolutionized children’s television program back in the 1950s and became an institution that rebooted several times due to its popularity. The original vision was that the show should be a live show rather followed a format from animation, while Disney was stretched a bit thin financially. It was one of the reasons why the original show made its goodbye to television. Let’s learn fascinating information about the show.
- Did you know Walt Disney wanted to choose relatable kids for the show? Created by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions, The Mickey Mouse Club had its first television run in 1955 by ABC. During casting, Walt Disney clarified that he wanted “normal” kids to star in the show rather than celebrity kids with stage moms. Eventually, according to Mental Floss, some Mouseketeers were fired for being “behind-the-scenes badgering” by their overzealous parents. The legal guardian had to be as good as the actor’s children.
- Did you know Mouseketeers earned $185 a week? The kids took home $185 each week for their work on the show. Today, it’s a whopping more than a thousand dollars. That’s a nice amount of money for any child actor, and one of the show’s stars, Lonnie Burr, confirmed to Oregon Live that his check is “worth more than his father made as a truck driver.” However, the show was canceled not due to bad ratings but because it required many commercials to support its operations, profit margins from merchandise were low, and many sponsors were unwilling to support educational programs.
- Did you know one of the Mouseketeers suggested the Mickey and Minnie ears be worn on the show? Roy Williams, also known as the biggest Mouseketeer, indicated that all kids on the show should wear Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears. But not everyone liked the idea, so the accessory wasn’t seen in the show as much as possible. While on it, Mouseketeers Mickey Rooney Jr. and Timmy once messed up the studio’s paint room and were eventually fired for naughty behavior.