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"You're very sweet and I'll try not to keep your husband for too long."

- as Liza Randall on Bewitched: The Girl Reporter (1964)

CHERYL HOLDRIDGE

Cheryl Holdridges' last
name comes from Herbert Holdridge, who adopted Cheryl in 1953 after marrying her mother, broadway dancer Julie Phelps.

Cheryl Lynn Holdridge (June 20th, 1944 – January 6th, 2009) was an American actress, best known as an original cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club.

Holdridge was born Cheryl Lynn Phelps in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her mother, Julie A. Phelps (October 19th, 1908 – October 24th, 2003), was a dancer who performed on Broadway with her partner, Dick Mason. Cheryl's biological father is unidentified. Shortly after Cheryl was born, Julie moved with her new daughter to Burbank, California and in 1950 married Herbert Charles Holdridge, a retired Brigadier General and something of a political visionary, too utopian for practical politics, too flamboyant for academia. Cheryl's step-father often ran for President (unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party and the American Vegetarian Party), and because of his military background, was known for his pacifistic philosophy. Despite having failed to secure a presidential nomination from even minor national parties in three different elections over a dozen years, Holdridge would always claim to have been nominated by the Vegetarians and the Prohibitionists, an achievement of such ephemeral value that no reporter ever questioned it. After 1956 he never again sought a nomination from established political parties. Instead, he devoted his efforts to nascent movements designed to empower American Indians, and to anti-Catholic propaganda against the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy. Holdridge founded the "Minute Men for the Constitution" in 1957, which published two newsletters but did little else. In 1960 he established the "Constitutional Provisional Government of the United States", which claimed the Hopi Indians were still a sovereign nation, since they had never signed a peace treaty with the United States. Holdridge apparently appointed himself to represent the Hopi in this matter, without actually attracting any members of that tribe to his organization. His political activities and incessant writing of public letters to newspapers and elected officials would prove a minor embarrassment to his stepdaughter's acting career. Meanwhile, his son, John H. Holdridge (Cheryl's step brother, who was twenty years older than her), pursued a diplomatic career in the American foreign service, and was best known for having taken part in, and later recounted, Henry A. Kissinger's secret 1971 initiative to restore United States diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. John Holdridge also served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore (1975–1978) and Indonesia (1982–1986).

Cheryl Holdridge grew up in Sherman Oaks. She started dance lessons at an early age with Joyce Cole in North Hollywood, from whom she learned ballet and tap. From her tutelage Cheryl was able to perform with the NYC Ballet's LA productions of The Nutcracker. She also started doing television commercials at age ten, and her first screen appearance was as an uncredited extra in the 1956 film production of Carousel.

Holdridge auditioned for Walt Disney's The Mickey Mouse Club in the spring of 1956, was hired for the club's "Red Team", the most visible and popular of the Mouseketeers. She had arranged to audition by calling the casting director herself, without telling her mother or her agent. Though a good dancer, her weak singing voice kept her in the background of most musical numbers performed by the Mouseketeers. A competent actress with a pleasant speaking voice, she was employed for two of the show's episodic serials: Boys of the Western Sea and Annette.

Cheryl had the prettiest smile of any Mouseketeer. A small and slight twelve-year old in the second season, by the third she started to bloom. She always had a perfect first take in close-ups, had a flair for reaction shots, and could handle with ease the simple dance numbers choreographer Tom Mahoney devised for the shows later seasons. At the end of the second season Cheryl was dropped along with all the other replacement Mouseketeers. Two months later, she received a call offering her a new one-year contract, at the old pay scale. This is the way the studio avoided paying increases that would have been due under the old contract.

In the third season Cheryl was again used for group dance numbers but was the only Red Team member left out of the singing and dancing in the Disneyland "4th Anniversary Show" episode promoting the Rainbow Road to Oz.

When filming for the show ended, Cheryl attended first Van Nuys High School, then Grant High School and graduated. Some ex-Mouseketeers had trouble fitting back into regular high school life, not Cheryl. She was accepted readily and was popular with her classmates, who gave her the nickname "Surfboard" until she started to fill out. Cheryl was a bit of a tomboy, working on car engines with the neighborhood boys, and strong academically, graduating at sixteen in 1961.

In May 1960, Holdridge went on a live tour to Australia with other former Mouseketeers organized by the show's original host Jimmie Dodd. While there, she became involved with Lucky Starr, an Australian singer and was later linked in fan magazines and gossip columns with many other celebrities, including Elvis Presley and Fabian.

Holdridge had an uncredited bit part in the film A Summer Place (1959), while her television career resumed with an appearance in a 1959 episode of Bachelor Father and a recurring part on Leave It to Beaver as 'Gloria Cusick'; she later played an occasional, recurring role as Wally Cleaver's girlfriend, Julie Foster (above). Holdridge did an episode of The Rifleman with Johnny Crawford in 1960. Holdridge made guest appearances on over twenty different shows, including The Rifleman, My Three Sons, Bewitched, Bringing Up Buddy The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bachelor Father. She also had a prominent recurring role in an unsold pilot called Archie, in which she played Betty and Mikki Jamison played Veronica (below top right) to John Simpson's Archie Andrews.

Cheryl Hoildridge above left in The Rifleman. Above right and below left in Leave It To Beaver. Below right in the Dick van Dyke Show and bottom row in Bewitched.

On November 7th, 1964, Cheryl married Woolworth heir Lance Reventlow, also picking up the title of Countess since Lance's father was a Danish nobleman. Cheryl's happiness was muted by a visit to Jimmie Dodd's sick bed in a Honolulu Hospital. He was sleeping when she and Lance visited while on their honeymoon, and died the next day. Because his death was kept secret on the islands for a month, Cheryl didn't even know he passed away until she returned to the mainland.

Cheryl decided to give up show business, despite Lance's encouragement to keep acting. After a few years of marriage the couple's lives seemed to drift in different directions, with Cheryl living in California while Lance spent his time at their home in Aspen, Colorado. Lance died in a small plane crash near Aspen in 1972. Her inheritance from Lance's estate was probably more than $10 million, but not as much as it might have been. Lance's mother Barbara Hutton was still alive, and the bulk of the Woolworth wealth was in her hands. Newspapers at the time reported that Hutton bought back the jewelry Lance had given Cheryl for over a million dollars.

Cheryl married Albert James Skarda in a civil ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada in October 1974. A few months later she appeared on the Tomorrow show with Lonnie Burr, Tommy Cole, Darlene Gillespie, and Cubby O'Brien. In 1980, Cheryl took part in the Mouseketeer 25th Reunion Show, and in 1995, appeared in the TV special on the Mickey Mouse Club. Her second married ended in divorce in 1988.

In 1994 Holdridge married Manning J. Post, a California car dealership tycoon, who like her, was involved in liberal causes and state Democratic politics. Manning Post died in 1999 at age 82, while serving on the California State Transportation Board. All three of her marriages were childless.

The following year Cheryl appeared in the film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas and made personal appearances with other Mouseketeers in 2005 at Disneyland, for the 50th Anniversary of the Mickey Mouse Club and the park.

In her later years Holdridge suffered from lung cancer. Weak from the chemotherapy she found the strength to attend a charity fund-raiser in Beverly Hills in October 2008, but finally succumbed on January 6th, 2009.

    Cheryl Holdridge Links

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