The original Mickey Mouse Club cast was truly iconic. Whether you watched these blossoming artists when they first appeared on TV or only saw them in reruns later on, it’s hard to deny the star power that the first Mouseketeers had to offer.
Making an on-screen debut in 1955, the impressive lineup featured notable names like Annette Funicello, Sharon Baird, Lonnie Burr, and Bobby Burgess. It’s been more than two decades since the show had its final curtain call, and the first Mickey Mouse Club members have changed quite a bit since then.
Annette Funicello, perhaps the most popular Mouseketeer of the 1950s cast, continued a career in show business and went on to star in other memorable roles in movies and on TV. But in 1993, the starlet took to more philanthropic ventures after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — a disease that ultimately took her life in 2013. We sure do miss the charismatic actress!
Fellow budding personality Bobby Burgess may have given up his mouse ears a long time ago, but he hasn’t forgotten his love of dance that made him one of the most beloved Mouseketeers. He went on to become a regular on the Lawrence Welk Show before that series ended. Today, the 76-year-old smooth mover now runs a dancing school with his family.
While we are nostalgic for those beaming smiles and charming tap dance routines, these then-and-now photos are the perfect blast from the past. We can practically hear the famous Mickey Mouse Club song lyrics: “Why? Because we like you!” Scroll below to see photos of the Mickey Mouse Club original cast today and find out what they’re up to now.
The 'Mickey Mouse Club' Original Mouseketeers
The original Mickey Mouse Club aired from 1955 to 1959 and starred an array of talented youngsters, many of whom still perform and reunite today. The cast included 39 kids and three adults, and the show was aimed at children ages three to 14. From tap-dancing routines to musical performances, the show had a wide variety of entertainment to offer to its young and impressionable audience.
Sharon Baird Then And Now
Mousekeeter Sharon Baird
The talented tapper reportedly lived near her Mouseketeer pal, Annette, in LA for years before relocating to Reno, Nevada. Although her show business career ended in the early 1990s, she has since participated in many documentary appearances for TV shows and DVD features. To her fans' delight, she has also taken part in several Mouseketeer reunions.
Bobby Burgess Then And Now
Mousekeeter Bobby Burgess
Married with four children and four grandchildren, the former Lawrence Welk star now runs a dancing school with his family. Burgess has said, "My kids have become wonderful dancers themselves and enjoy teaching just as much as I do." Today, the Burgess Cotillion Program aims to teach children not only how to dance, but also how to learn etiquette lessons and have fun in a structured environment.
Annette Funicello Then And Now
Mousekeeter Annette Funicello
Perhaps the most recognizable Mouseketeer, Funicello stole the hearts of millions of young fans with her cheerfulness and warmhearted disposition. After the series ended, she went on to star in several movies and TV shows, continuing to turn heads all along the way. When she learned she had multiple sclerosis in 1987, she began a charity to help with finding a cure. Sadly, she passed away from the disease at age 70 in 2013.
Lonnie Burr Then And Now
Mousekeeter Lonnie Burr
This Mouseketeer's talent and charisma captured the attention of many — including his fellow co-star Annette Funicello! "He got my first kiss," Funicello wrote in her 1994 autobiography. After she passed away, Burr set up a sweet tribute to the late actress on his website. Now 74 years old, he lives in Oregon and still occasionally performs.
Doreen Tracey Then And Now
Mousekeeter Doreen Tracey
She won over the Mickey Mouse Club audience with her engaging personality and comical facial expressions. But singing and dancing weren't her only talents; she later worked in promotions for Warner Bros. Records. Impressively enough, she was one of very few women in the 1970s taking on such a profession. Sadly, after a two-year battle with cancer, she passed away in January 2018 at the age of 74.
Tommy Cole Then And Now
Mousekeeter Tommy Cole
A talented singer and dancer, Tommy Cole would later learn another valuable show business skill — working behind the scenes with stage makeup. The married father of two, now 76, became an award-winning Hollywood makeup artist and is still heavily involved with the craft today. That said, he still makes the time to attend the occasional Mouseketeers reunion, much to the excitement of his fans and followers.
Darlene Gillespie Then And Now
Mousekeeter Darlene Gillespie
She had one of the most famous grins on the show, but sadly, she later encountered legal trouble after her Disney days. She spent three months in prison for check fraud and had a long legal battle with Disney regarding compensation she thought was owed to her — which she later settled out of court. She’s now 76 years old.
Cubby Obrien Then And Now
Mousekeeter Cubby O'Brien
A clearly talented musician from the start, O'Brien was the only one of the original Mouseketeers who was allowed to play music on camera. The thrice-married 71-year-old would later go on to tour with The Carpenters. He also toured with Broadway star Bernadette Peters as a drummer. Clearly, his talent hasn't faded over the years!
Karen Pendleton Then And Now
Mousekeeter Karen Pendleton
Pendleton's show business career ended after the show did. Frighteningly, a car accident in 1983 left the divorced mom paralyzed from the waist down, but she was determined to overcome her struggle. She went back to college, got a degree, and then worked in a battered women’s shelter. Now, she's a director at a center for independent living in California.
Mouseketeers in 2015
The original Mickey Mouse Club cast frequently reunites for events, as seen here at the D23, the Disney fan expo, in 2015. During these reunions, the former Mouseketeers tell beautiful stories about their time on the show and sometimes take a look back at classic and memorable clips. Although not all members are able to attend these gatherings, it's always a heartwarming experience for fans to see them provide a much-needed blast from the past.
The Mouseketeers Remembered Today
Though several decades have passed since the original Mickey Mouse Club cast first arrived on TV, it's indisputable that they left their mark on their audience. Furthermore, they left their mark on history — and rightfully so. And now — because we just can't resist — we have to conclude by saying, "See you real soon!"