It's served as the jumping off point for so many stars: "The Mickey Mouse Club," Disney's variety TV show that began in the 1950s and ran until 1996. For many former Mouseketeers, the show gave them a first taste of stardom. While some skyrocketed to fame and continue to find success, for others the road after the "Club" has been rocky. Check out how some of the most recognizable ex-Mouseketeers have fared.
Christina Aguilera left "The Mickey Mouse Club" to enter the world of pop music with fellow Mouseketeers Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez. The Grammy Award-winning diva shocked the world with powerful vocals from her first album, "Christina Aguilera." Aguilera broke onto the scene at around the same time as Spears, her childhood friend.
Christina Aguilera was a member of "The Mickey Mouse Club" with friend and later rival, Britney Spears.
They were reportedly inseparable best friends during their Mouseketeer days, but competition ensued once the media started comparing Aguilera and Spears from head to toe. Not only were they both grouped into the blonde bombshell, teen pop star categories, they also soon began stealing fans from one another. But Aguilera's talents helped her survive the hype. Her latest album, "Back to Basics," was released in August 2006 and is considered Aguilera's most personal album yet. Her latest songs speak of her relationship with her father and her love for her husband, Jordan Bratman. Aguilera and Bratman married in 2005 and recently welcomed a new member to their family -- a new baby born in January 2008.
Musical sensation Justin Timberlake's success may have started with "The Mickey Mouse Club," but he has certainly taken control of his own stardom. Timberlake's real stardom began as a teenager, when he joined the boy band 'N Sync. He took on the role of front-man and heartthrob, and brought an extreme amount of success to the pop act with his charming good looks, catchy dance moves and seductive voice.
Before he brought sexy back, Justin Timberlake jump started his career with "The Mickey Mouse Club."
While a part of 'N Sync, Timberlake began dating his long-time friend and fellow Mouseketeer Britney Spears. After almost four years of dating, Timberlake called it quits after hinting that Spears was unfaithful. He told GQ magazine, "I felt like she had a couple of opportunities to just sort of stick up for me, and she didn't. Which is fine. But at that time, you know, I fought back, and that's the way I fought back. I used my mind. I came up with a song." Timberlake then left his fellow band members and the life he had with 'N Sync to pursue a solo musical career.
His decision to go solo, releasing the album "Justified" in 2002, turned out to be a good one. The teenage singer, with the boyish good looks and sweet voice, has become a sexy superstar who dominates the music channels and radio stations with hit after hit. Timberlake is a multi-Grammy award winner, and his latest album, "Future/Sex, Love Sounds," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Before she was a tabloid staple, Britney Spears was a member of "The Mickey Mouse Club."
Before becoming a Mouseketeer, Britney Spears competed in state-level gymnastics competitions until she was 9. When she was 11, she auditioned for a second time for "The New Mickey Mouse Club" and played a featured role for the next three years. Afterward, Spears briefly became part of the female pop group Innosense before going solo in 1997 with her diamond album, "Baby One More Time," followed by "Oops!? I Did It Again." After the release of her third album, "Britney," in 2002, Spears was named the world's most powerful celebrity by Forbes magazine.
At that time that her four-year relationship with fellow ex-Mouseketeer Justin Timberlake came to an end, Spears made her movie debut with the film "Crossroads," dubbed a disaster by many critics. "In The Zone," her fourth album, won Spears her first Grammy. This was followed by a quickie marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander, a divorce 55 hours later, a marriage nine months later to backup dancer Kevin Federline, and another divorce one year and 10 months later.
After a break in her career, Spears surprised critics in the fall of 2007 by releasing her fifth album, "Blackout," and performed her hit single "Gimme More" during the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, which was generally viewed as a disaster. The BBC said "her performance would go down in the history books as being one of the worst to grace the MTV Awards." The year 2007 involved a couple of brief stints in rehab, as well as a drawn-out custody battle with ex-husband Federline. The media has paid especially close attention to Spears' bizarre behavior, such as shaving off all her hair and attacking a vehicle with an umbrella. The most recent incident involved Spears' hospitalization at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Jan. 3 for refusing to relinquish her children to their father, who currently has sole custody.
Keri Russell, 31, made her debut on "The New Mickey Mouse Club" in 1991. After leaving the show, she appeared in the movie "Honey I Blew Up the Kids" and television shows like "Boy Meets World" and the soap opera "Malibu" before winning a Golden Globe for her role in WB's "Felicity."
Before she acted as a college student on "Felicity," Keri Russell played the role of Mouseketeer.
Russell later appeared in movies such as "The Upside of Anger," "Mission Impossible: III," "Waitress" and, most recently, "August Rush." She was chosen as a celebrity spokeswoman for CoverGirl Cosmetics during the summer of 2006 and has since appeared on MySpace in the CoverGirl production "The Keri Chronicles," a reality show/sitcom showcasing Russell's life. In 2007, she married carpenter Shane Deary and in June, Russell gave birth to son River Russell Deary. Her next role is as the voice of Wonder Woman in Warner Brother's straight-to-DVD movie, according to TV Guide.
Heartthrob actor Ryan Gosling got his start on "The Mickey Mouse Club."
Born in Ontario to a secretary and a papermill worker, Ryan Gosling auditioned on a whim for "The New Mickey Mouse Club" when he was 13 years old. After leaving the show he had a number of small TV roles before landing the lead in "Young Hercules." But his career only took off when he moved to film, first in "Remember the Titans" in 2000 and then with "The Believer," winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. He followed that with "Murder by Numbers," and after his turn as the male lead in "The Notebook," People magazine named him one of its 50 Hottest Bachelors. Gosling recently starred in "Lars and the Real Girl" and "Fracture" alongside Anthony Hopkins. He was supposed to have a role in the upcoming film "The Lovely Bones" but was reportedly fired by director Peter Jackson for "being too demanding," according to The New York Post. Gosling replied to these rumors by saying in Parade magazine, "The age of the character versus my real age was always a concern of mine. Peter and I tried to make it work, and ultimately it just didn't."
Boy band star JC Chasez earned his singing and dancing chops as a Mouseketeer.
This ex-Mouseketeer joined the oh-so-popular boy band 'N Sync with fellow "Mickey Mouse Club" member Justin Timberlake. Chasez and Timberlake, the two lead singers for 'N Sync, quickly became heartthrobs for millions of teenage girls. When 'N Sync decided to call it quits, Chasez followed in the footsteps of Timberlake and started a solo career. In February 2004, Chasez released "Schizophrenic," which he co-wrote and co-produced. Although the album didn't bring the kind of success that Timberlake's first album did, Chasez kept himself in the spotlight by becoming romantically linked to actress Tara Reid and engaging in a short-term relationship with actress Eva Longoria.
Annette Funicello was discovered by Walt Disney while she performed in "Swan Lake" and was chosen as one of the original Mouseketeers when she was 12 years old. Funicello appeared in a number of Disney productions both on the big screen and on television, and had several pop hits throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Annette Funicello was one of the original Mouseketeers.
After her work with Disney, she went on to produce a series of popular "beach party" movies with co-star Frankie Avalon. In 1992, Funicello was inducted as a Disney Legend. That same year she announced she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she founded the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation.