David Stollery was born in Los Angeles on January 18, 1941, into a theatrical family. His mother, the former Mitzi Lamarr, had been a radio star for many years in Portland, Oregon. David’s father, after whom he was named, was a radio announcer. At the age of seven, David had done Medea on Broadway with Judith Anderson, and was voted Child Actor of the Year for the Broadway production of On Borrowed Time starring Victor Moore.
He began appearing in juvenile roles Hollywood features, beginning with the 1949 Bing Crosby classic A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. He followed this with several feature appearances including Where Danger Lives with Robert Mitchum, and Her Twelve Men with Greer Garson; he also appeared in television episodes of I Love Lucy, Dragnet, My Friend Irma, and The Red Skelton Show.
However, it was at the Disney Studio that he really made his mark. Walt Disney happened to see David playing a young genius in an episode of The Ray Milland Show titled “The Prodigy.”
Based on this performance, Walt was convinced that he had found Marty Markham, the spoiled rich boy, for “The Adventures of Spin and Marty” serial being developed for the Mickey Mouse Club. David was quickly signed to a contract to star in the serial, followed by two “Spin and Marty” sequel serials and the “Annette” serial, all for the Mickey Mouse Club TV show.
“I liked David right away,” co-star Tim Considine remembered, “because, although very conscientious about his work, he wasn’t loud or at all show-offy.”
David also appeared in the Disney feature films Ten Who Dared and Westward Ho the Wagons!
“Security and success are the main things for me,” David said at the time. “You don’t gamble with your life. Acting is a hard business and an easy business. It’s easy when the money rolls in, but what happens when the money only rolls in twice a year?” So, while many of his acting contemporaries uneasily made their move into adult roles—or rock, teen, or exploitation pictures—after five years at Disney, David decided to leave Hollywood to pursue his education in industrial design. “I need something steady that I can depend on,” David once said, “and there’s nothing steadier than work in a technical field.”
He already knew he wasn’t going to act much longer, Tim once recalled. “I used to ramble on about driving and racing cars.” But what David wanted even then was design his own.
After completing his education at Art Center College of Design, David spent seven years in Detroit as a designer for General Motors. He was hired by Toyota Motors in 1973 to establish and manage California’s first automotive design group, Calty Design Research. There, he was responsible for the design of the 1978 Toyota Celica. I wonder how many Celica-driving Mickey Mouse Club fans ever knew that ‘Marty’ designed their car? Tim Considine once said. In all, David directed the design of more than 22 models for the Japanese firm.
David later established his own manufacturing company, making a patented fiberglass lifeguard tower—the only of its type made in the United States. As for the glamour and romance of his acting career, apart from an occasional appearance at a Disneyana convention or Park reunion event, David has steered clear of the nostalgia notoriety limelight of his Disney days—and claims not to miss Hollywood or the fame one bit.