Before any of you older men have a heart attack or a stroke at the title of my post rest assured that Annette is still alive. She was probably your favorite Mousketeer and understandingly so. But, I was never one to trust the majority so my secret crush every week day afternoon was fixated on another pretty lass. Her name was Cheryl Holdridge and she left me speechless whenever she shouted out her name.
Cheryl died Tuesday of lung cancer. It feels strange writing “Cheryl” and “lung cancer.” We want to remember our youth as always being youthful at any age. I remember her as the honey blonde next door with a refreshing smile and cute as a bug’s ear. She was not the girl who turned heads just by walking in the room but give her five minutes and she would take over the party. She was that rare combination of class and comfort that made both guys and girls want to be with her. People would get jealous of Annette. But, no one got jealous of Cheryl. She was too nice for anyone to be feel edgy around. Cheryl didn’t overwhelm you, she grew on you. She was Reese Witherspoon before Reese Witherspoon. She was Wally’s girlfriend on, “Leave it to Beaver.” She was married to the heir of the Woolworth fortune before he died in a plane crash. She was a countess. She was one of the most generous and giving people on the face of the earth. But, most importantly, she was a memorable fixture on the Mickey Mouse Club. She was my favorite Mousketeer.
When I watched the show I stared only at her. When they all danced, I only followed her every move. When she got close to the camera my heart would start beating faster. When she flashed her blue eyes she lit up my young world. I wished with every fiber in my eight year-old body that I could meet her in person. I did have my picture taken at Disneyland with Cubby and Karen as well as Jimmie Dodd. But, no Cheryl. It’s probably just as well. Had she shown up I would have melted down into a puddle of mute. I would have nothing to say to her. I would have had trouble talking. I would have had trouble BREATHING!
Now, she is gone and a part of my past went with her. Tommy Cole, one of her fellow Mouseketeers called her, “Sunshine.” He said today upon hearing of her death, “I feel a little less sunny today.” I know exactly how he felt.
My favorite Mousketeer is gone.
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