Then: The Mouseketeers’ red-headed spitfire, Doreen Tracey (in the middle of this group shot, just below Bobby) had been studying dance at her parents’ own Hollywood studio when the call went out for potential Mouseketeers. After acing her auditions, she became one of the core Red Team members who were featured prominently. She grew to be one of the most popular Mouseketeers with girls and, especially, boys, becoming something of a pin-up during a post-Mouse Club tour to Australia. “I was 16 years old, I had flaming red hair, and Britney Spears had nothing on me,” she says.
Now: She toured Vietnam, playing for troops with the backing of a Filipino band called the Invaders, during the Tet Offensive in 1968, but struggled to live down her Mouseketeer image. “I wanted to identify as an entertainer on my own,” she says. “But I couldn’t escape my past.” She returned to the United States and took a job doing promotional work for rocker Frank Zappa, but grabbed headlines in 1976 by posing nude — in Mouseketeer ears — in men’s magazine Gallery. “You get caught up in your own ego, not paying attention, not seeing the full repercussions,” she says of the photo shoot. “You don’t really look objectively, you get yourself in a lot of hot water. And so I lost a lot of shows at Disney. They used to call me two, three times a year for appearances before I did Gallery, and now they wouldn’t touch me.” So instead of worrying about Disney’s reaction, she posed again for the publication in 1979 in nothing but a trench coat outside Disney Studios. She eventually reconciled with the company, though, and became a regular at Mouseketeer events in the ’90s. She recently retired from a longtime administrative job at Warner Brothers Records; she’s considering putting together a new nightclub act and writing a memoir.
For more on the Mouseketeers’ lives on The Mickey Mouse Club and beyond, check out my book Why? Because We Still Like You.