M-I-C…K-E-Y… M-O-U-S-E! by
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He was my first crush.

Cubby O’Brian played the drums on The Mickey Mouse Club. Much to my dismay, he was always paired up with Karen*, who had pretty blonde curls. I didn’t look anything like this:

Not me. No way.

When I saw an  article in the SF Chronicle about the Disney Family Museum, it jogged a pleasant memory of those early days of  TV, and the way kids used to pretend we were part of the club too.

Me, with a crush on this guy

                  Isn’t he dreamy?


The article mentions Karen and Cubby cut-out dolls….and I’m pretty sure I had some. Why else would I have her pretty little face (and his adorable one) seared into my memory?

I used to play “Karen and Cubby” with my across-the-street neighbor John when we watched “The Mickey Mouse Club” together. His house had a big rumpus room and that’s where the TV was. We had plenty of room to play and act out what the Mouseketeers were doing on the show.

The picture of Cubby (his real name is Carl, but his mom thought he looked like a bear cub — how cute is that?) today, even with glasses and without the ears, reveals a nice man who looks like he has lived a good life. And he’s still playing the drums.

I loved reading about the Mouseketeers in this article. It brought back some of the excitement of watching the show, sprawled on my tummy in front of the TV. . .  dreaming about this pint-sized power couple.

*I was sorry to learn that Karen passed away last year at age 73


Characterizations: been there, funny, right on!, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    I was also a huge Cubby fan, Risa. So cute and so safe. Thanks for the memories.

  2. Aww, you were adorable, too, Risa! Such a sweet story — and of course I had to Google “Cubby grown up” and there he was, just as you described. And then of course I had to go down the “mouse hole” and found stories on Bobby (Burgess), who married Kristin Floren — daughter of Lawrence Welk accordionist Myron Floren (I knew that name sounded familiar!); Johnny (Crawford), who left early and became THE Johnny Crawford of film, music, and Playboy (!) fame; Dennis (Day), who had dementia and had gone missing, his remains later found and a handyman charged with his death, leaving behind his beloved cat and dog and his partner of more than 45 years, Ernest Caswell; Darlene (Gillespie), convicted of petty shoplifting; and Cheryl (Holdridge), who married Lance Reventlow, the only son of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton; Doreen (Tracey), who appeared nude in the men’s magazine Gallery more than once, and became an amateur bodybuilder; and sweet Karen (Pendleton) who was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a snowmobile accident in 1983 but then returned to school and earned a degree in psychology which she used to work with women at battered women’s shelters.

    Why? Because we (still) like you!

    • Risa Nye says:

      Aww, gee Barbara! Thanks.I love that you went down the “mouse hole” for further research. We all know what happened to Annette (always a favorite) but had pretty much lost track of those others. Tim Considine was on “Spin and Marty” and later became one of the sons on “My Three Sons.” And then there’s Kevin Corcoran, always called “Moochie” no matter what role he played on the show! Thanks for the memories.

    • John Zussman says:

      Very impressive and fascinating research, Barbara! And as I write this, I wonder how many Masters theses and PhD dissertations have been written about MMC and the Mouseketeers.

  3. Marian says:

    Thanks for those memories, Risa. Now that I read your story, I dimly recall that I might have had those paper dolls, too!

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    I love the idea of a “rumpus room”, Risa. My brother and I watched the show religiously in our paneled den. As I commented elsewhere, Bobby Burgess was my first crush, but I liked them all a lot and love that you had a crush on Cubby.

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thanks, Betsy. My neighbors added on that room as an in-law unit, but I only remember being there to watch TV, bob for apples on Halloween and hang out! Now that I think of it, “rumpus room” was pretty accurate!

  5. Suzy says:

    Love this story, Risa, and love your autographed photo of that dreamy Cubby! And thanks for the link to the SF Chronicle article, I enjoyed reading that too. Have you been to the Disney Family Museum? Maybe we should have a NorCal Retro writers field trip there. John Z, Marian, are you in?

  6. Well done and brought back so many memories. I loved this show, too and wanted to be friends with Annette. My older brother, who thought he was so intellectual, made fun of me for watching this show. When I sang the theme song you used as the title, he would sing M I C K E Y J E L K E. I didn’t understand the reference (Mickey Jelke was a ganster criminal from an 1930’s movie) , but I knew he was making fun of me.

  7. Marian says:

    I’m in for a field trip to the Disney Family Museum. Never heard of it. Is it in SoCal?

  8. Risa, I love your wonderful recall and sweet memories of watching the Mouseketeers with your friend.

    I remember sing-spelling out Mickey’s name but don’t think I had the requisite headgear!

    My parents weren’t the tightfisted type, but did they deprive me of those ears?
    Ah if only they were still here for me to chide them!

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