When the Mouseketeers were first hired each was given a screen test to assess their potential for film projects. Based on the results, director William Beaudine Sr asked producer Bill Walsh if he could use Darlene Gillespie as "Corky". Walt Disney ok'd the choice, and Darlene was immediately packed off to riding school. Her mother recounted in an interview how Darlene came home every day aching and sore, but immensely pleased with her good fortune. At fourteen, Darlene was older than Corky, but looked the part. Despite years of dance lessons she still retained some baby fat, and was very short for her age. Her braids and freckles went well with plaid, denim, and a cowboy hat, and Darlene's brash confidence suited Beaudine's conception of the character. Beaudine was an early exponent of what came to be called camp in the sixties. He encouraged Darlene's natural tendency to overact, and a certain degree of hokiness in the other actors as well. Fortunately, he had toned down this inclination for his first Disney project, The Adventures of Spin and Marty. Beaudine had come up with the basis for this story in late April of 1955. A long-time acquaintance of Walt Disney, he pitched the idea to him in early May. Walt bought it and hired Beaudine to direct his own treatment. The serial would use readily-available western props, costumes, and locations. It was assigned to be filmed during October, after the show's broadcast debut. Because Beaudine would be tied up with directing Circus Day shows and The Adventures of Spin and Marty, Bill Walsh hired outside writer Lillie Hayward to do the teleplay. Impressed by Darlene's voice, Walsh had songwriting couple Paul Smith and Gil George come up with four songs for the series: My Pa, Uncle Dan, Buckwheat Cakes, and Little One. It isn't known how much of the story Hayward provided. Most likely she simply broke it into episodes and wrote the voice-over narrative. Beaudine would already
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