We were touring the Walt Disney Studios last week with visitors and we happened past stage one. As we peeked inside the cavernous, empty space this image popped into my head. You see, I spent a fair amount of time here back in the fifties when this stage was home to the “Mickey Mouse Club” and the Mouseketeers.
The kids have all grown up, and the adults have since passed on. However, the memories of those tap dancing days remain and it seems like yesterday. Veteran, Jimmy Dodd was more than a performer on the show. He became everybody’s dad. Cartoonist, Roy Williams was the favorite jovial uncle, and former child actor; Sidney Miller was the perfect director to helm the show. The show also had a co-director whose name you might remember. C. August Nichols was an animator and director in Walt’s cartoon department. Often know as, “Nick” to friends, we had the pleasure of working with Mr. Nichols often. I enjoyed hearing his stories of animating the Coachman in Disney’s classic animated film, “Pinocchio.” The Coachman was a truly bad dude and Nick took a fiendish delight in animating the scoundrel. Naturally, Walt Disney made the final choices concerning who would helm his show and as always they were wise ones.
The young Mousketeers found a second home on the Walt Disney studio lot and Uncle Walt was very protective and did not tolerate bad behavior. When a kid even had thoughts of being bratty or a prima donna, they were quickly booted out. You can imagine how long Walt Disney would have put up with a certain spoiled, bratty redhead who recently filmed a few movies here.
The nineteen fifties and the Mouseketeers are only memories today and the wide massive doors of Walt Disney’s stage one remain a delightful memory and a portal to the past.