I can still hear the familiar music that ended with what always sounded like sincere words…”Y…Why? Because we love you…M-O-U-S-E.”
That’s the closing of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” television show from the 1950s. All that came back this week when Mousketeer Annette Funicello died at age 70, after years of living with multiple sclerosis.
My family lived in an apartment in Beverly Hills when the “Mickey Mouse Club” was first on television, and I remember meeting some of the Mousketeers.
It wasn’t Annette, who was everybody’s favorite – except mine. I loved Doreen Tracey and Darlene Gillespie. I guess I could identify with them more because of their brown hair and pony tails.
Annette had sparkling dark brown eyes and black hair, and was very bouncy. You remember her. She went on to star in “Beach Blanket Bingo” and other beach movies.
I don’t know much about what the other Mouseketeers did when they grew up. I just remember being impressed with having kids who were just a little older than I was being on TV. They sang, danced, acted and somebody played the accordion.
I think I met Doreen at a birthday party for our classmate, Cathy Gray, whose mother was Cara Williams and stepfather was John Barrymore Jr. You might remember Cara Williams from starring with Harry Morgan (later Col. Potter in “Mash”) in a situation comedy “Pete and Gladys.” She also had her own CBS sitcom, “The Cara Williams Show,” in the mid 1960s, but that was long after my family had moved back to Georgia. Movie stars were more ordinary people then, and Cathy Gray and her family lived in a bungalow not far from where our apartment was.
Disneyland was pretty new when we lived in California, and there was no Disneyworld in Florida yet. I got my ears at Disneyland but not the fitted cap kind that lots of kids get these days. Mine were a less expensive version on a plastic headband. I’m not sure what happened to them over the years.
But I have the memories. And the song. “M-I-C-K-E-Y …Why? Because we love you. M-O-U-S-E.”