The passing of an original Mouseketeer, Cheryl Holdridge, who joined the famous corps in 1956 at the beginning of the 2nd season, occasioned a pause in the heartbeat of America, a momentary skip in the pulse as people “of a certain age” flashed back to a time when liking someone on television did not require defending indefensible behavior.
Cheryl was a great gal, a stunning blonde with a genuine smile who only grew more attractive as she aged. In a life marred with tragedy she never failed to find the pony. For men my age she was the blonde counterpart to Annette Funicello, drop-dead beautiful in a uniquely accessible package.
When the news of her death spread around the country a generation of American men who only now openly admit to watching the iconic 50’s television show, felt a pang of loss that is difficult to describe unless you, too, fell in love with a remote celebrity that fulfilled every hormonally driven fantasy.
The LA Times obituary incorrectly said that Cheryl Holdridge left no immediate survivors. That’s just not true. She left us…those who remember the impact of the smiling blonde who jumped out of the television set while performing on a Disney kid show. For those who felt a loss out of all proportion to the news of Cheryl’s passing let me pass along my condolences. I felt it, too.
A symbol of something precious has left us, a legacy of a time and a place in America that was for most an idyllic memory relegated to the attic of our minds whose sudden reemergence reminds us that there will be more Mouseketeer losses like this in the days ahead.
We are mortal, and so are the real people who live within our media memories. Cheryl made the world a better place. The American family will not be the same without her.
We millions who have survived her would do well to remember her beauty, bravery and grace. It’s okay to be fond of someone you’ve never met. Thank God there’s a little Mouseketeer in all of us and we’re not yet so jaded that the loss of one leaves the rest of us unmoved.
The bells will toll, for thee and me.
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