Then: Lonnie Burr (pictured here in the ears he loathed because they smushed his carefully tended pompadour) came to The Mickey Mouse Club with loads of performing experience in TV, radio, and film — even though he was just 11 years old. “I was working the business at 5,” he says. “I was working with huge stars, you know: Bob Hope, Martin and Louis, Jimmy Durante.” He also came with loads of smarts — he’d skipped three grades ahead in his studies — and a suave attitude that made many of his female costars swoon. “He was adorable,” Mouseketeer Mary Espinosa says. “He was smart. He was 12 going on 20.” (Yes, he even dated the legendary Annette Funicello. “We really were an item,” he says. “We weren’t going out with anyone else. Going steady then, it was a big deal.”)
Now: Lonnie appeared in guest spots on several TV shows, including The Beverly Hillbillies and Father Knows Best, in the late ’60s, then earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge, and his master’s in theater from UCLA. He’s since played numerous character parts on television (Chicago Hope, Lois and Clark), in film (Hook, Lionheart), and on stage (The Grapes of Wrath, 42nd Street). He’s also written several books, including Two for the Show: Great 20th Century Comedy Teams and his recent memoir, Confessions of an Accidental Mouseketeer. He also maintains a thorough website about his career from Mouseketeerdom to beyond at MouseketeerLonnieBurr.com. His ears from the 25th anniversary celebration are the ones on display in the Smithsonian’s pop culture exhibit.
For more on the Mouseketeers’ lives on The Mickey Mouse Club and beyond, check out my book Why? Because We Still Like You.