Monday, January 12, 2009

Former Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge Passes On

Cheryl Holdridge, one of the Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club, passed on January 6 after fighting lung cancer for two years. She was 64 years old.

Cheryl Holdridge was born Cheryl Lynn Phelps in New Orleans on June 20, 1944. Her mother Julie Phelps, a former dancer on Broadway, moved to Burbank, California while she was still young. In 1950 her mother married Herbert Holdridge, who adopted Cheryl in 1953. She was only nine years old when she was picked to perform for the New York City Ballet Company's Los Angeles production of The Nutcracker Suite. Prior to The Mickey Mouse Club Holdridge had appeared in an unbilled, bit part in the movie adaptation of Carousel.

Holdridge auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club in the spring of 1956, and joined the show in its second season. Holdridge was swiftly included in the core group of The Mickey Mouse Club because she was a skilled dancer and she was also immensely popular. Her fan mail nearly matched that of Annette Funicello.

Holdridge had a fairly healthy career following the demise of The Mickey Mouse Club in 1959. She appeared in an uncredited part in the movie A Summer Place. She also guest starred on such shows as Westinghouse Playhouse, Bachelor Father, Bringing Up Baby, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and The Rilfeman. For a time she was a semi-regular on Leave It to Beaver, playing Wally's girlfriend Julie Foster. Cheryl played Betty in the unsold pilot Life with Archie, based on the Archie Comics character. She also guest starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr. Kildare, My Three Sons, and Bewitched. Holdridge left acting in 1964 after she got married. After the deaths of her husbands, Cheryl would guest star on Still the Beaver (as Julie Foster) and the movie The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

I was not even born when the original Mickey Mouse Club first aired, but I remember Cheryl Holdridge from her many guest appearances. In fact, I remember her very well from The Rifleman episode "A Young Man's Fancy," in which she played the object of Mark's affections, and from the Bewitched episode "The Girl Reporter," in which a young reporter pursued Darrin after her boyfriend developed a crush on Samantha. Holdridge played both parts very convincingly. It is perhaps because of her talent that Holdridge had a very good career following The Mickey Mouse Club, unlike many of her fellow Mouseketeers. If she had not retired from show business to get married in 1964, who knows how far her career might have gone.

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