Books About The Mickey Mouse Club
|Of Mice and Mickey
The Complete Guide to the Mickey Mouse Club
by Jeff Rovin
Manor Books, New York 1975
204 Pages, B/W Photos, Appendices, Notes
Jeff Rovin is what used to be known as a hack writer. This term isn't disparaging. It means a real professional write-anything-the-customer-wants kind of guy. Long based in New York, he moved to California a few years ago, possibly to escape the notoriety of being exposed as one of Tom Clancy's ghost writers. His books include everything from science fiction to video game manuals to
film anthologies to comic books to espionage thrillers....well, you get the idea. His professional virtues are that he writes fast, he writes well, and he isn't afraid to write about something he doesn't know much about.
Which leads us into this book. One of his earliest efforts, this appears to have been thrown together in a matter of weeks in the summer of 1975, probably to take advantage of the second round of syndication of The Mickey Mouse Club. The author, born in 1951, was perhaps too young to remember the hour-long shows of 1955-57. He may have seen the show in syndication in 1962-64, or even in 1975, and didn't realize that these half-hour shows were cut-down patchworks from the first run. Or he may never have seen the show himself, but had it described to him by Russ Phelan, a NYC memorabilia dealer who served as his technical resource.
However it was, he made some blunders trying to analyze a product he didn't know was an incomplete and out of sequence version of the original. Jeff relies heavily on the Walt Disney's Magazine for Mouseketeer information. His Chapter Four coverage of Darlene and Cubby is straight out of profiles of them in Volume II, numbers 5 and 6 respectively.
Something I like about this book is Rovin's style of reporting conversations. He doesn't try to turn an interview into a tone poem; he reports exactly what both parties said and nothing else. Thus the reader can see the exact point at which director William Beaudine Jr shuts down the flow of information, when Jeff advances his oddball idea about female domination in the Corky and White Shadow serial and the Mickey Mouse Club in general.
The two other interviews in the book, with Russ Phelan and Lonnie Burr, go a little more smoothly. Lonnie tries to be mellow, having started to catch flak from the studio for his piece in the Village Voice. But he's unable to resist Jeff's eager incitement to disparage Walt, the show, and his fellow mice. One thing Lonnie says, that Paul Petersen was fired for crying on camera, may have come back to haunt him later.
From Russ Phelan the author elicits the interesting information that mainstream Disneyana collectors were disdainful of the Mickey Mouse Club due to the lack of original animation. He also mixes valuable information, like the highlights of the 1975 Tomorrow show featuring the Mouseketeers, with blatant filler material such as a hundred question multiple choice trivia quiz, with stumpers like what are the correct spellings of Darlene Gillespie and Annette Funicello? This leaves the reader with the impression of a high school term paper that's been padded to meet the required length.