July 25, 2014

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"Forever Let Us Hold Our Banner High"

Looking back at the first TV show I ever watched.
The death of Annette Funicello is an opportunity to look back at a children's TV show which has had almost as many versions as it has had generations of viewers. The "Mickey Mouse Club" debuted a year before I did, in 1955. But my mother often said about it, years afterward, that it was the only thing that kept her first infant child quiet. Before I was born, my parents lived in Fort Lee Virginia, while my father was stationed in the Army. They also had the only television set in the neighborhood, and MMC attracted a lot of youngsters to their apartment in the afternoons. Annette was the most popular member of the "Mouseketeers" troupe, but she wasn't the only one to go on to more success. Another regular was Bobby Burgess, who was a dancer on the "Lawrence Welk Show" from the 1960's to the '80's. Two others from the show later appeared on the long-running sitcom "My Three Sons": the late Don Agrati, known professionally as Don Grady, and Tim Considine, who appeared in the show's "Spin and Marty" serial. After it was cancelled, MMC appeared frequently over the years in syndicated reruns, something its competition, "Howdy Doody" couldn't duplicate, since the latter show was mostly shot live and Mickey Mouse was filmed. The success of those reruns begat revivals of the show in syndication in the 1970's and on cable's Disney Channel in the 1990's. These revivals also had some notable regulars, such as Lisa Welchel, who went on to star on "The Facts of Life" in the 1980's. Arguably, the latest version, in the 1990's, may have been the most successful in producing major talent: pop stars Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake all were regulars in the mid-'90's. But, just as we baby boomers argue the best cast on "Saturday Night Live" was the original Not Ready For Prime-Time Players, the original Mouseketeers are the ones which we remember best. M-I-C... See you real soon! ...K-E-Y... "Why?" Because we like you! ...M-O-U-S-E! http://www.fiftiesweb.com/annette.htm
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