By Nicole Carroll, Walt Disney Archives
“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!”
Sixty-five years ago, on October 3, 1955, this popular anthem was heard for the first time as the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on ABC and became one of the most popular children’s television series of all time. The show was originally part of Walt’s Disneyland investment pitch to ABC, but the network initially chose to focus on the Disneyland anthology series. After the success of the anthology series in 1954 and as the cost of the park continued to grow, Walt returned to ABC with the idea for the children’s television show. This time the project was greenlit and Walt turned the project over to studio producer and future Disney Legend, Bill Walsh.
Their first task? Choose a name for the program. It was ultimately decided to call the show the Mickey Mouse Club, reminiscent of the popular children’s movie theater club in the 1930s. Next up for the team was picking format and talent. The show was organized by themed days of the week: Monday was Fun With Music Day, Tuesday was Guest Star Day, Wednesday was Anything Can Happen Day, Thursday was Circus Day, and Friday was Talent Roundup Day. Perhaps the most iconic part of the show was the lovable cast of 24 Mouseketeers and their adult leaders Jimmie Dodd and the Big Mooseketeer, Roy Williams. Although the popular show would not debut until a few months after the park opened, the Mouseketeers were introduced on Disneyland’s opening day telecast. And when the show finally did debut, it was an overnight sensation with many of the Mouseketeers— including Annette, Tommy, Darlene, Sharon, Bobby, and Cubby—becoming instant celebrities.
The original series ran from October 3, 1955, to September 25, 1959, and included 260 one-hour episodes in the first three seasons and 130 half-hour shows in the fourth season. Due to its popularity, it returned in syndication to rousing success, which led to a modernized “new” Mickey Mouse Club that premiered in January 1977 and ran through December 1978. And once again in 1989, following the launch of The Disney Channel and subsequent re-airings of the original Mickey Mouse Club program, yet another updated version— this time with a new name “MMC”— aired and ran until 1994. This latest version of the club starred many Mouseketeers who remain household names today such as Disney Legend Christina Aguilera, J.C. Chasez, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.
Many of the iconic props and costumes from the original series, as well as popular merchandise of the time, are prized assets cared for by the Walt Disney Archives today. Enjoy a special look inside the Archives with a few of our favorite Mickey Mouse Club pieces in the gallery below.
In honor of the Mickey Mouse Club’s 65th anniversary, be sure to check out the debut episode and select others, now streaming on Disney+! And while you’re watching the show, enjoy your own version of a Mousekartoon with a few printable activity pages from coloring and activity books in our collection and be sure to pick up your own Mickey Mouse coloring book at your favorite store!
Click here to download.
Click here to download.