I can remember one of the happiest days in Micky’s life was the day he got the part in Circus Boy. He was just eight years old and it was all a big surprise to him.
Micky had been on the set a few times with his father and with me, the one or two times I worked, but he still didn’t know that much about show business. Because of this he was very thrilled being able to do it.
We had a big surprise party at one of the restaurants we owned at the time and they presented Micky with a big contract with cartoons of elephants and a picture of Circus Boy. The producers of the show were there and the director, and it was a real thrill for Micky.
To shoot the series, we had a very early call because most of it was shot at Corriganville, which is a big movie lot ranch. We lived in Los Angeles, so I drove Micky to the Columbia Ranch in Burbank and a studio car drove us from Burbank to Corriganville. We usually had to be at the Columbia Ranch by 6:30 a.m. and we’d get to Corriganville by 7:30 or 8 a.m. Then Micky had a make-up call and then four hours of school. Often the lessons were done during breaks in the shooting schedule.
During the time my mother came to live with us to take care of Coco. You see, by law, child actors must have a parent on the set with them until they’re 18 years old.
Micky was a very good child and the only punishment we ever imposed was not letting him watch television. And this was always for little things like teasing Coco too much or not cleaning his room. He never did anything bad enough to be severly [sic] disciplined.
I can’t remember him having a favorite television show, because he didn’t get to watch much TV. He studied his lines and went to bed early because we had to get up at 5:30 in the morning.
He did watch “Circus Boy,” but he never cared about watching himself. He had a wonderful friend, Claude Williams, who was the special effects man. He was responsible for blowing up wagons and things like that. Micky and Claude used to have a ball working on things together.
When Micky would watch the show his reaction was—what had transpired behind the scenes, not his being on TV. He wasn’t looking at himself, he was recalling what had happened that day. A wagon or something would blow up and he would shout, “Remember, mother, I helped Claude make this scene!”
While Micky was Circus Boy, we had a little “thing” that went on between us and still goes on today. Because I was an actress and I’ve done some directing, I can tell when someone is overplaying a part. I wasn’t on the “Circus Boy” set to direct, so I would never say anything in front of the director. But sometimes Micky would be overplaying and I’d go over and brush his hair and I’d whisper to him “Be Micky.” He knew that it meant to just be himself.
This happened sometimes at parties at our home and he would be acting a little too silly or getting a little defiant, which is only natural in growing up, and I would say, “Whoa… be Micky.” And he knew.
I can remember not long ago when Micky came home when the Monkees had a weekend off and there was so much excitement going on. Micky came into the kitchen and asked, “Am I still Micky?” And I said, “Yes, you’re still Micky.” It just means no more or no less than to just be yourself. And when Micky is himself, he’s really quite wonderful!