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Disneyland Article
I Love You, Baby, But The Season's Over Part 2

Mickey Mouse Club Circus
ID:
TMS-1855
Source:
MickeyMousePark.com
Author:
Dick Steele
Dateline:
May 01, 2010
Posted:
May 01, 2010
Status:
Current
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The Mickey Mouse Club Circus

Opened Friday, November 25th 1955

Well, here it was opening day at Disneyland! This was no longer the mud show with the misnomer of The Show Beautiful. This was the Mickey Mouse Club Circus everything perfect to the last detail. Every piece of rigging was shining, every costume clean and bright, each animal and person groomed to perfection.

The Ringmaster stood in center ring inside the world's largest candy-striped tent. The brightest white spot light I ever saw streamed down in a perfect circle around the bright red jacket, black trousers, top hat and spit-shined high black boots.

"Ladies and Gentlemen and children of all ages" Jimmy Dodd announced. "Walt Disney proudly presents the Mickey Mouse Club Circus!"

Another spot light now swung to the bandstand and Joe Basile his white and gold uniform looking better than ever his baton raised. On the down beat, the eight piece brass band started playing the Mickey Mouse Club March. I looked at Annette sitting on her pony and asked if she was ready.

"You bet" she answered with the youthful enthusiasm that made her the queen of the Mouseketeers.

I coaxed the horse with the reins held tightly in my hand and led the parade while everyone in the cast, crew and audience sang in unison

"Who's the leader of the club, that's made for you and me?

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E !"

During the show, I stood to the side watching Johnny Herriott in the center ring with his camels and llamas, hearing his familiar commands to the animals, always ending with "All right!" Captain Reynolds was in Ring One with his performing seals, barking noisily and in Ring Three, Madame Charmaine with her rowdy chimpanzee. I was waiting for my next prop set and talking to the man next to me in the dark. "What a great show" I offered. "Yes, we are pleased" came the answer.

At that moment, one of the llamas, spooked by the barking seals in Ring One bolted over the ring curb toward the audience. I ran to collar him. The gentleman who had been standing in the shadows with me was right behind. I lunged and grabbed the llama around the neck to contain him. The man grabbed from the other side at the same time. Johnny Herriott's assistant arrived with a leash and led the errant llama back to the ring. I shook hands with the man and said "Thanks for your help, nice job." "My pleasure" answered Walt Disney.

WOW! I will be able to tell my grandchildren that Walt Disney and I once caught a llama together.

Other than the llama fiasco, the first show was flawless well, almost!

The Ted DeWayne Troupe had a trick they did on the teeter-board to end their performance. Ted was the understander, with Mel Warkmeister standing on his shoulders. Two other members jumped from the platform to the teeter board. Ruth, a young dynamite red-head in a spangled red two piece costume was bounced from the other end of the board to the top of the duo, caught by the waist over the head of Mel, while she spread her arms in a flying angel position.

Well, this afternoon, when the drums rolled and the cymbals crashed as Ruth threw out her arms, the snap on her costume broke and the spangled red bra went fluttering to the saw dust below. The audience burst into applause. There was a standing ovation as mothers around the tent hastily shielded their childrens' eyes from this momentous sight. As for Ruth, all she could do was smile while displaying her bare breasts to the Mickey Mouse Club below.

"Ta-dah" went the orchestra!

Perhaps now they will rethink this infatuation with a pair of ears.

Hal Adelquist and Ted DeWayne had assembled and staged a spectacular show. They utilized Disney staffers Jimmy Dodd as ringmaster, Roy Williams (The Big Mouseketeer) as the Strong Man and Bob Amsberry as Bob-O the Clown and of course, the Mouseketeers.

First was the Spec, or "spectacle" a parade where patrons were introduced to the characters, colors, and excitement which would soon entertain them. Everyone who was available was costumed and took part in this, including some of Mouseketeer moms.

The rest of the show consisted of various animal acts featuring Professor Keller and His Ferocious Felines and Serenado The Musical Wonder Horse. There were clown acts and acrobats and, of course, The Mouseketeers in an Aerial Ballet. .The closing number featured the magic growing Christmas Tree and culminating with none other than Santa Claus in person.

The Golden Horseshoe

The Liberty Horses weren't used in the show except in spec. There were six of them. Two black, two white, two black and white. As I approached the back yard one morning, Johnny Herriott asked me if I would be interested in giving the horses some exercise, I said "sure" so we came up with a plan. I could ride one and lead another. We would alternate daily. This sounded great to me. I was always up early, so it would be no trouble and should be big fun. I started the next day. There was no saddle, just the bridle and reins. I was experienced, having ridden this way once before when I first arrived at the Gil Gray Circus, so I felt sure I could do it.

I developed the habit of walking the horses completely around Disneyland out of the circus, down Main Street, through Adventure Land, Frontier Land, through the Enchanted Castle and back around. All before the gates opened. It got so I met a lot of people that worked there and would always get a wave and "hello" from everyone. I would stop occasionally for conversation.

One of the places I was curious about was "The Golden Horse Shoe Revue." It looked like a western saloon and had a poster in the window featuring show girls with Pecos Bill and Slue-foot Sue. When I got the opportunity, I went back when it was open to see the show, it was sponsored by Pepsi Cola and only soft drinks were served The stage was extremely small, maybe 12ft across, and a 10ft high proscenium draped with red curtains. There was a tiny orchestra pit barely big enough for the four musicians. The show was great! Pecos Bill was really Wally Boag, a great entertainer. The song "Pecos Bill" was a riot.

Now Pecos Bill was quite a cowboy down in Texas

Why, he's the Western Superman to say the least

He was the roughest, toughest critter, never known to be a quitter

'Cause he never had no fear of man nor beast

So yippee-i-ay-i-ya, yippee-i-o

He's the toughest critter west of the Alamo

There was lots of singing and dancing, ending with four chorus girls doing the Can-Can. The audience and I loved it. It soon became my favorite place to hang out. I learned that Wally did five shows a day, seven days a week. How long could he keep that up?

Meanwhile, the circus went on as usual two shows a day, seven days a week, usually uneventful. The crowds were getting smaller. Apparently, the patrons of Disneyland were more interested in the other unique attractions in the park. So it seemed certain that we would not have our contract renewed after January 8th and I needed to decide what to do with my life. Hal Adelquist and I had become friendly and he offered me a job at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, but I would have to be 18 years old to work there, so I couldn't start until after my birthday in June.

The Disneyland Circus closed as scheduled on January 8th 1956. We spent a few days gathering all the rigging and props and loading the trucks for Gil Gray to return to Enid until next season. It was all very melancholy and anticlimactic, with all the good-byes and good wishes. On January 13, I took my faithful leather bag, I sold my 1946 Ford Sedan for $200 (the same as I had paid for it), and purchased a ticket on an American Airlines DC-6 from Los Angeles to Boston.
 
Attractions Referenced

Golden Horseshoe Revue

Mickey Mouse Club Circus

Sleeping Beauty Castle

 
Lands Referenced

Main Street U.S.A.

 
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