{The following is an excerpt from an article about one of the original Mouseketeers, Dallas Johann}

"After years in show business, invariably, what people most easily recall about Johann’s career is his short stint as a Mousketeer.
That was just one of his life’s fateful twists.
As a boy, Johann says he had an All-American look – freckled face, red hair. Disney producers, trying to cast a new show, spotted him in a ballet class in southern California.
The show was “The Mickey Mouse Club,” a live, variety television show for children which was just going into production in 1955.
“How would you like to be on TV?” they asked the 10-year-old Dallas.
“You mean like the Little Rascals?” he asked. “Wonderful!”
Dallas was the first of the 24 original Mouseketeers hired. He was also the first fired.
He was too shy.
As the shortest member of the new cast, Johann recalls being seated at the very end of a height-ordered row when it came time for the one of the first Mouseketeer Roll Calls.
Each of that day’s line-up of regular performers was to chirp out his or her name for the television audience. “Annette! Tommy! Darlene!”
After Cubby O’Brien, the next shortest, hollered “Cubby!” Dallas froze.
He couldn’t say, “Dallas!” He couldn’t say anything.
He cried.
Every parent, watching an adolescent attempt something new, especially something so public, has known this pain.
But that was at least part of Dallas’ problem. His parents weren’t there.
The other parents, many of them, were show business parents. They were behind the cameramen, available to encourage their budding television stars. Dallas’ parents, both working real jobs, had dropped him off before sun-up to meet a Disney van.
Dallas’ father was a chemical engineer with Richfield Oil.
“He worked on the Alaskan pipeline,” Johann recalls. “After Dad died, I read some of his papers. He wrote papers on the fusion of gas that were studied at major universities.”
No audition song
Johann was born in Madison, Wisconsin on June 15, 1944. Dallas was just six weeks old, however, when his Dad took a job with West Coast, offshore refineries. Dallas grew up in West Covina, Calif.
In 1955 – post World War II – West Covina, located just east of Los Angeles on the San Bernardino Freeway in the San Gabriel Valley, was the fastest growing city in the U.S. Its population was 4,900.
Disney casting agents found Dallas while visiting a dance studio in greater Los Angeles where he was taking tap and ballet lessons.
Dancing was the one outlet at that time where his shyness did not outmaneuver his passion to perform, Johann says. But dance was his only stage-ready skill.
At early rehearsals, the Mickey Mouse Club producers asked Dallas to sing. But he says he had no prepared “audition song.”
“Sing ‘Happy Birthday!’” they suggested.
He cried.
The producers tried to work with Dallas for a few weeks, during which time he was the only Mouseketeer not yet under contract. It didn’t work out.
Johann still recalls Head Mouseketeer Jimmy Dodd putting him on his lap and gently delivering the news.
A songwriter and leader of the Mickey Mouse Club on and off the screen, Dodd was known for his “Doddisms,” short homilies he gave encouraging young viewers to make the right moral choices.
“He (Dodd) was so kind,” Johann recalls.
Johann was not upset though. “I was so relieved when he told me (I was fired),” he recalls. “The pressure was just too great for me to handle.”
Disney would go on to hire Dallas’ older brother, John Lee Johann – known as “Lee!” because there was already a “Johnny!”
Johann says he believes Dis-ney hired Lee to further ease the transition for the Johann family.
Besides, Dallas still got to hang around. When the Mouseketeers performed at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., Dallas was invited with his brother just to hang out. He was assigned to warm up the rides prior to the park opening each morning while his brother and all the other on-air Mouse-keteers had to work. A tough assignment for a 10-year-old, Johann recalls.
The Mickey Mouse Club aired live on ABC, each weekday afternoon, from 1955 to 1958, three seasons only. In the fourth year, 1958-59, ABC showed half-hour re-runs of the first two seasons. After that, the Club was off the air.
Wikipedia.com says Disney’s merchandise sales were minimal and sponsors were uninterested in educational programming for children.
Mickey Mouse Club re-runs aired a couple years in the 60s, again in the 70s, and most recently on the Disney Channel’s Vault Disney channel from 1995 to 2002.
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were Mouseketeers in a 1990s revival of the show."

See the complete article here: http://www.tryondailybulletin.com/news/21622.asp