It all started in 1955. Not that it was the first TV show for kids—the Howdy Doodie Show beat it by eight years—but it was the first kids show featuring kids. I am referring, of course, to the Mousketeers of the Mickey Mouse Club.
After a morning doing tax returns at work, I acceded to Martine’s request to drop in at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. While Martine was watching some of her faves, I decided to see two episodes of the Mickey Mouse Club show, one from 1956 and one from 1957.
I saw at once why the show was a success. Not because I was entertained the way when I was a kid, but because Walt Disney had so much material lying around in film cans that there wasn’t as much of a burden to come up with new material for every show. Every show ended with a quarter hour cartoon segment from the vaults, and there were regularly repeating cartoon intros for the opening and many of the segment categories.
The live portions included the talents of the Mousketeers, including singing and dancing, and visiting a training center for firemen. They also featured local talent such as an archery champion and two yo-yo experts, all of whom were in their teens.
Of course, I watched the show religiously until I deemed myself too old and sophisticated and no longer in love with Annette Funicello with her dark hair and flashing eyes.