James Wesley Dodd (March 28, 1910 – November 10, 1964) was best known as the MC of the popular 1950s Walt Disney television series The Mickey Mouse Club, as well as the writer of its well-known theme song, "The Mickey Mouse Club March". A slowed-down version of this march, with different lyrics, became the alma mater that closed the show.
Dodd had some early film roles in The Three Mesquiteers series of westerns. Coincidentally, he performed in two unrelated series whose names were plays on "musketeers".
Dodd made his first screen appearance in the 1940 William Holden film Those Were the Days! in a minor role. He also played the taxi driver in the MGM film Easter Parade starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Dodd had a small role in an early episode ofAdventures of Superman, titled Double Trouble.
He also appeared in many theatrical films in the 1940s and 1950s, often uncredited. Two of his films were biographies of baseball players: The Jackie Robinson Story, in which Jackie Robinson played himself, and The Winning Team, in which future presidentRonald Reagan portrayed pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. Dodd had a small, but important, part in the Mickey Rooney hitQuicksand. He also appeared with John Wayne in the film Flying Tigers.
Dodd appeared as a deputy in the 1955 episode "Sontag and Evans" of the syndicated television series Stories of the Century, starringJim Davis. The segment was based on the California train robbers Chris Evans and John Sontag, with Morris Ankrum and John Smith, respectively, cast in those roles.
The Mickey Mouse Club aired each weekday. Dodd always wore Mouseke-ears, played his Mouse-guitar and sang self-composed songs. His tunes contained positive messages for kids. In addition, among his other musical contributions is a song that a generation of kids has used for nearly a half century to spell "encyclopedia." Dodd also wrote some themes for Zorro and performed songs in several of his movies.
The original Mouseketeers, frequent guests at the Dodd home for backyard barbecues and sing-alongs, said that Dodd treated them as part of his extended family.
Dodd died of cancer on November 10, 1964, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was 54. Cheryl Holdridge was the last Mouseketeer to see Dodd alive. Holdridge visited Dodd in his final hours because she and her new husband Lance Reventlow had flown to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They came to the hospital before Dodd died.