arts

M-I-C-K-E-Y

Mickey Mouse Club logoSure, there was boomer kiddie television before 1955. Howdy Doody led the parade, Kukla, Fran and Ollie right behind. A version of what would become Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood began. Lunch With Soupy (Sales) was pie-in-you-face; Animal Clinic—delightful; Acrobat Ranch starring Tumbling Tim and Fying Flo provided thrills. Let’s not forget Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and The Lone Ranger.

But what about a boomer variety show? An Ed Sullivan for kids? Walt Disney made the mold, using his best known pop culture icon.

Who’s the leader of the club
That’s made for you and me?
M-I-C-K-E-Y
M-O-U-S-E

Overnight, the Mouseketeers became national celebrities. They were rehearsed, but encouraged to act naturally. Sometimes, they pouted or stamped their feet at camera’s edge, unlike the modern over-coached Purple Dinosaur ensemble that resemble hammy ballroom performers. Moms and Dads across America urged their little ones to emulate those sweethearts on the Mickey Mouse Club.

Annette FuicelloThe show happened to premier at the same time Disney opened the largest baby boomer playground in history. The television Club served as great promotion (and financing) for the cost over-over-over-run of extravagant Magic Kingdom.

The Club exuded a down-home charm. “I’m Cubby! I’m Darlene! I’m Bobby!” Each would prance out, names emblazoned on their shirts, to became boomer America’s brothers and sisters. Lots of music (song and dance), cartoon shorts, kid newsreels and serial adventures kept the ratings high. Never controversial, The Mickey Mouse Club stayed well with the conservative boundaries of the times.

The original cast was (Anglo-Saxon) Caucasian. Annette Funicello, an olive-skinned Italian with a pug nose was regarded as a token ethnic innovation at the time. No one expected anything special from her.

Now its time to say goodbye
To all our family
M-I-C. See you real soon…
K-E-Y.
Why? Because we like you…
M-O-U-S-E.

Terry Hamburg writes the Boomer to You blog about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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