The Mickey Mouse Club
Walt once said, “I don’t present a lot of nonsense to the children. I try to present sense in an entertaining way.” That philosophy was at the heart of The Mickey Mouse Club, a five-day-a-week television show that had its debut on October 3, 1955.
As usual, his plans were ambitious -- a variety show that would showcase the talents of youngsters, bring young viewers interesting material from around the world, and entertain with original serials like Spin and Marty. At the same time, the series provided an opportunity to bring 1950s children the animated shorts that had been produced by the Disney studio in the previous two decades.
In its first two seasons, the show ran an hour a day, five days a week, with much time spent on original material. Over the years, 14 composers and 40 songwriters created original music for the many song-and-dance numbers.
Who would be cast as the real stars of the show, the 24 Mouseketeers? Said Walt, “I don’t want those kids that tap dance or blow instruments while they’re tap dancing or skip rope or have curly hair like Shirley Temple’s or nutty mothers and things like that. I just want ordinary kids.” Regularly, he checked in to see how the Mouseketeers were doing. He made sure that there was no swearing on The Mickey Mouse Club set and that the children never saw him smoking.
The Mickey Mouse Club ran for three seasons and then was renewed for a fourth, but was broadcast with most of the material drawn from the previous three years. Although the show retained its popularity, its demise was hastened by disputes between Walt Disney Productions and the ABC network, and the last show of the original series aired on September 25, 1959.