Walt Disney is a brand that has gone beyond the films, the theme parks and the man after whom it takes its name, a clever creative who stayed one step ahead of the game all his life.
He is also the subject of the second half of tonight’s two-part documentary, WALT DISNEY. Few creative figures before or since have held such a long-lasting place in American life and popular culture. As well as opening some major theme parks, he and his brother Roy co-founded Walt Disney Productions, which became one of the best-known motion-picture production companies in the world. Disney was also among the first to use television as an entertainment medium. The Mickey Mouse Club, a variety show featuring a cast of teenagers known as the Mouseketeers, became a cultural phenomenon and launched the careers of numerous young stars, many of whom are major household names today.
So now I bring you the definitive (ahem) list of some of the most famous mouseketeers…
This early years triple threat was reportedly the only Mouseketeer hand selected by Walt Disney himself. She later claimed her vocal range is ''about three notes,'' but her dance skills and loveable personality made her the original show's most popular cast member by far. Before she died in April 2013 at age 70, Funicello starred in six, uber cheesy “Beach Party” films during the sixties before retiring from the public eye.
As a Mouseketeer, Gosling has said he didn't get much screen time because, in his words, the show's producers ''realised that I wasn't really up to snuff in comparison with what some of the other kids were able to do.'' But when he did get a shot at the spotlight, the future Oscar nominee did pretty damn well I reckon and even still drags out his vocal cords in films like Blue Valentine (and with his second job, indie rock outfit Dead Man's Bones). As well as some stellar on screen turns he made his directing debut with 2015's Lost River, and his face is one of the most recognisable in film.
The ''SexyBack'' singer had the vocals well nailed even before his voice changed, and the sheer number of albums he has created - and shifted – speaks volumes. Timberlake was on The Mickey Mouse Club from 1993 to 1995, where he met his future N'Sync bandmate JC Chasez and most famously, his equally high-earning ex, Britney Spears.
Britney's dance moves were crisp and precise from the get go – girl can clearly move. And though she'd eventually surrender to Auto-Tune, her early vocals weren’t too bad at all. Now many albums - and Grammy nods – down the track Spears is raking in the coin as the star of her own Las Vegas residency, which goes by the name “Britney: Piece of Me" and kicked off in December 2013. It has been a runaway success, proving that despite a few emotional battles, Spears has still got it.
Keri Russell rose to fame with her portrayal of Felicity Porter in the TV series Felicity and currently stars in The Americans, but she first appeared on screen in The All-New Mickey Mouse Club at the age of 15. She was on the show from 1991 to 1994, and co-starred with Ryan Gosling and future pop Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. She doesn’t sing much these days, apart from the tune "Baby Don't You Cry" during the film Waitress.
John Stamos was only in one episode of the Mickey Mouse Club, in 1989 and is best known for his role as Jesse on the sitcom Full House and as Dr. Tony Gates in ER from 2006 to 2009. He is an accomplished musician however, occasionally performing with The Beach Boys and as a solo musician.
Aguilera has done a full circle - starring in the all-star revival of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club from 1993 to 1995 and now appearing again as herself on The Voice. Her debut self-titled album came in at number one on the 1999 US Billboard 200 and spawned three US Billboard 100 number-one singles. She has four Grammys and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide.