Karen Pendleton, original Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club, dies aged 73

One of nine kids who appeared on 'The Mickey Mouse Club' in its original run, Pendleton was paralyzed in an accident in 1983

                            Karen Pendleton, original Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club, dies aged 73
(Getty Images)

One of the original Disney Mouseketeers, Karen Pendleton has passed away at the age of 73. The cause of death was reported to be a heart attack. Pendleton was a resident of Fresno, California. 

Pendleton first appeared on the original run of 'The Mickey Mouse Club' from 1955 to 1959, starting from when she was nine years old. She was known for her long blond curls and was paired with Carl “Cubby” O’Brien during the episode-closing number, 'Now It's Time To Say Goodbye'.  The show ended after a short run but was brought back for multiple reboots. In the 1989 revival, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and later, Ryan Gosling famously appeared. 

After 'The Mickey Mouse Club' ended, Pendleton left show business. She completed high school before getting married and having a daughter in 1973, followed by a divorce in 1981. In 1983, following an automobile accident, Pendleton was paralyzed from the waist down. Following her paralysis, Pendleton went on to earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees in psychology. She also worked at a shelter for battered women and became a public advocate for those with disabilities and was a board member for the California Association of the Physically Handicapped.

Pendleton appeared in many 'The Mickey Mouse Club' reunion shows and parades at Disney Land, and at fan shows and conventions. In a statement from her family, her daughter Staci states, "My mom loved her Mouseketeer family. Getting together with [her co-stars] was always a high point. It gave her the opportunity to relive great memories and to meet so many Mickey Mouse Club fans that watched the show as kids and loved her. Many told her that they named their daughters Karen in her honor."

Pendleton is survived by her daughter and two grandchildren.

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