Micky’s 70th Birthday Celebration
March 8, 2015 marks the 70th birthday of one George Michael Dolenz, aka Micky Dolenz. The youthful Dolenz, best known, of course, as one of The Monkees, has actually done so much more besides that in his 70 years.
It’s not completely surprising, though, that Dolenz landed in show business at all because he came from a show business family. His father, George Sr., was also an actor who starred in several films, including “Timbuktu,” but he was more well known for playing the title role in the mid-1950s television series “The Count of Monte Cristo.” He also made many guest appearances on other TV shows, including “Bonanza,” “Tales of Wells Fargo,” “The Rebel,” Cimarron City,” “The Islanders,” “The Deputy,” “Playhouse 90” and “The Millionaire.”
Besides acting in “Circus Boy,” music was also part of young Micky’s life even before becoming a Monkee. He had learned to play guitar and was a member of several rock ‘n’ roll bands, including The Missing Links. He was one of the 400 applicants who responded to a trade ad with Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork in late 1965 for auditions for a new TV show about a rock band that became known as “The Monkees.”
Micky’s career has encompassed a variety of things, including music to acting on stage and in TV roles, directing stage productions and even woodworking. He may be a member of the Monkees to most people, but there’s a lot more he’s done in his career. So here’s a look. And a very happy birthday to the esteemed Mr. Dolenz.
The 1956 TV children’s series is remembered by his older fans, but it’s where Micky, who was billed in the credits under the name Mickey Braddock, got his start. He played the role of Corky, a young boy adopted by a circus owned by Big Tim Champion, played by Robert Lowery. Also in the series as a circus clown was Noah Beery Jr., who later was a regular on “The Rockford Files.” The show lasted 49 episodes. Unfortunately, there’s been no legitimate DVD release of the series up to this point, even though it’s apparently in the public domain now. Several episodes, however, such as the one seen here, are on YouTube.
While acting in front of the camera has been a vital part of his career, Dolenz has also worked behind the camera as a director for TV shows and on stage. They include his directing an episode of “The Monkees in 1968, and two episodes of the series “Boy Meets World.”
Work in musical theater
After the Monkees, he embarked on a career in musical theater. His many roles included the musical version of Harry Nilsson’s “The Point” with fellow Monkee Davy Jones in London, plus “Grease,” the lead role in a 1993 Canadian production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” in 1993, and as Zozer in Elton John’s Broadway musical “Aida” in 2004.
It’s no surprise Micky has written an autobiography about his days as a Monkee (called “I’m a Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music, and Madness”), but he’s authored others, too, including books on rock ‘n ‘roll trivia, and “Gakky Two-Feet,” a book for children.
“Good Morning, Good Morning”
While the Monkees had a lot to celebrate on their own, Dolenz recalls fondly his time spent with the Beatles during a Monkees’ trip to England. That included being present during a recording session for the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album for the song “Good Morning, Good Morning.” As he recalled it for an interview with this writer, he said, “They were just tracking it on that day. I can’t even be sure there were vocals on it at that point. They were all sitting in folding chairs playing, so I don’t believe it was a vocal session. It would have been a tracking session. I can’t remember if there was a rough vocal on it or not.”
The Monkees social comment with “Pleasant Valley Sunday”
Micky Dolenz had many great moments as a vocalist in his career with the Monkees, but “Pleassant Valley Sunday,” penned by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, really stands above them all. The lyrics painted a perfect picture of how life in suburbia in 1967, when the song was released, really wasn’t as good as it looked. “Another Pleasant Valley Sunday. Charcoal burning everywhere. Rows of houses that are all the same and no one seems to care.” Micky’s vocal was perfectly sardonic. The song was a big hit for the group, hitting #3 on the Billboard singles chart, though it deserved to be #1. One of the Monkees’ career highlights.
Dolenz and Daughters Fine Furniture
When he’s not on stage, Dolenz has found enjoyment in a family business making handmade furniture. Dolenz and Daughters, as it’s called, has its own website and some of the proceeds going to charity. “I’ve always had a workshop in my house. And I’ve always done a lot of woodwork and metal work and electronics and all kinds of stuff,” he said in an interview. “And one of my daughters, Georgia, is quite handy with tools and stuff like that and learned how to do that in a theater degree.
“And one day we were building a coffee table for her boyfriend, and I joked and said, ‘We should start a company Dolenz and Daughters Fine Furniture.’ And she ran with it and did a website and Facebook, designs the stuff and does all the PayPal work,” he said. The website said part of the proceeds of their work is donated to charity.