ABC special celebrates Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary
By Jay Bobbin
For someone marking his 90th birthday, Mickey Mouse doesn’t look a day over ... well, let’s just say he doesn’t look 90.
The enduringly popular cartoon character who secured entertainment icon Walt Disney’s career gets a big celebration with “Mickey’s 90th Spectacular,” a new ABC special airing Sunday, Nov. 4. Disney Company chairman and CEO Robert Iger honors one of show business’ most famous animated figures, as does a parade of largely musical performers.
Kristen Bell, Josh Groban, Josh Gad, Meghan Trainor, Zac Brown Band, Kelsea Ballerini, Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. (“Hamilton”), Sarah Hyland (“Modern Family”), two-time Emmy winner Tony Hale (“Veep”), Sofia Carson (“Descendants”), Luis Fonsi, Tori Kelly, Miles Brown (“blackish”), Wendi Mclendon-covey (“The Goldbergs”), spouses Anna Camp and Skylar Astin (“Pitch Perfect”), and two of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” Mouseketeers — Sharon Baird and Bobby Burgess — are in the extravaganza overseen by veteran producer-director Don Mischer.
One of the principal dancers on “The Lawrence Welk Show” after his mid-to-late-1950s “Mickey Mouse Club” days, Burgess also participated in a 1988 tour marking the mouse’s 60th birthday. “I went around the United States to 45 cities, and to Australia and New Zealand,” the pleasant performer says. “That was very special for me.
“And when we did ‘The Mickey Mouse Club,’ we did a tour in 1959 and 1960. Mickey was with us the whole time, and he would accompany us on any personal appearances ... and he always dances right along with us. We’ve always had a good relationship with Mickey!”
Baird was brought into the “Mickey’s 90th Spectacular” by Burgess after he was asked about female Mouseketeers who could partner with him at the event. He notes, “Our theme song said, ‘Through the years, we’ll all be friends, wherever we may be’ — and we are. We Mouseketeers stick together, but Sharon was a special friend of mine. We jitterbugged together on ‘The Mickey Mouse Club,’ and through every reunion, they’ve always asked us to dance together.”
Burgess has shared notes with a Southern California neighbor who was a much later Mouseketeer: Justin Timberlake, who spent two seasons (1993-94) on an “All-new Mickey Mouse Club” revival with such castmates as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell and Ryan Gosling.
Now the owner of a dance studio that employs his four children, Burgess might have had a different career path. “I was supposed to be going to New York with (a stage production of) ‘Peter Pan,’ and I lost my voice, so I lost my job,” he recalls. “Instead, I got ‘The Mickey Mouse Club,’ which was much better for me because it went to millions instead of just the theater crowd. Everything worked out perfect.”
Sharon Baird and Bobby Burgess — two of the original Mouseketeers — help salute Mickey Mouse in Sunday’s new ABC special “Mickey’s 90th Spectacular.“