Always quick with a smile and a song, Jimmie Dodd was the unforgettable host of the Mickey Mouse Club. With his trusty “Mousegetar” in hand, the singer, songwriter, musician, dancer, and actor was a friend to children across the nation. He often transferred his infectious spirit through Doddisms, delightful instruction on the principles of good living, which he shared on each show to “help us all be better Mouseketeers.”
According to Lorraine Santoli’s The Official Mickey Mouse Club Book, one of Jimmie’s favorite Doddisms was from the French philosopher Etienne De Grolier: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there by any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, to any fellow being, let me do it now and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” Jimmie practiced this philosophy on and off camera.
As Mouseketeer Sharon Baird remembered, “Jimmie was one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known in my life. He was genuine and he didn’t speak down to kids, he included them. He was a great person to look up to.”
Born March 28, 1910, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jimmie attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and the Schouster-Martin School of Dramatics in Cincinnati. His first professional job was playing guitar and singing his own songs for a St. Petersburg, Florida, radio station. He later appeared with bandleader Louis Prima.
A heart condition kept Jimmie out of the armed services during World War II; however, he and his wife, dancer Ruth Carroll, toured extensively with USO shows. While overseas he met television personality Jinx Falkenburg, who was influential in helping Jimmie make his television debut, first with Arthur Godfrey and later on Jinx’s own show.
In the mid-1950s, Jimmie got a call from an old tennis pal, Bill Justice, who worked at the Walt Disney Studio. Bill explained that Walt wanted a special song composed for an animated “pencil” sequence on his television show. So Jimmie wrote and personally performed a little “pencil” ditty for Walt, which won him his role on the Mickey Mouse Club. According to Santoli, Walt suddenly proclaimed, “Hey, Jim is the one who should be on the Mickey Mouse Club!”
A prolific songwriter, Jimmie penned more than 400 songs during his lifetime, including “Rosemary,” “Nashville Blues,” and “Amarillo.” He also wrote more than 30 songs for the Mickey Mouse Club, including the title “Mickey Mouse Club March.”
Jimmie Dodd passed away on November 10, 1964, in Honolulu, Hawaii.