Cheryl Holdridge was a popular actress and one of the original cast members of The Mickey Mouse Club, a TV show that aired in the 1950s. She was known for her angelic look, her great smile, and her roles in various shows such as Leave It to Beaver, Bewitched, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. She retired from acting in 1964 after marrying Lance Reventlow, the son of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. She later married two more times, but both of her husbands died before her. She passed away on January 6, 2009 at her home in Santa Monica, California, after a two-year battle with lung cancer. She was 64 years old.
Early Life and Career
Cheryl Holdridge was born as Cheryl Lynn Phelps on June 20, 1944 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her mother, Julie A. Phelps, was a dancer who performed on Broadway. Shortly after Cheryl was born, Julie moved with her new daughter to Burbank, California. In 1950, Julie married Herbert Charles Holdridge, a retired Brigadier General active in politics. He adopted Cheryl in 1953 and gave her his surname. Her stepbrother was diplomat John H. Holdridge, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore and Indonesia.
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. She first performed professionally at the age of nine in the New York City Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker in Los Angeles. Her first screen appearance was as an uncredited extra in the 1956 film production of Carousel.
She auditioned for Walt Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club in the spring of 1956, and was hired for the show’s second season. Though a good dancer, her weak singing voice kept her in the background of most musical numbers. 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.
She received large amounts of fan mail and was considered one of the prettiest girls on the set. She was good friends with fellow Mouseketeers Annette Funicello and Doreen Tracey.
Post-Mickey Mouse Club Roles
After the show’s run ended, Holdridge returned to Van Nuys High School and graduated from Grant High School with the winter 1961 class. She was cast in two episodes of Leave It to Beaver in 1959 as Gloria Cusick; she later played an occasional, recurring role as Wally Cleaver’s girlfriend, Julie Foster. She reprised her role as Julie Foster in two guest appearances in The New Leave It to Beaver in 1985 and 1987.
From 1960, Holdridge made guest appearances on over twenty different shows, including The Rifleman, Wagon Train, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons, Bewitched, Bringing Up Buddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bachelor Father.
Personal Life and Death
Holdridge retired from acting in 1964 to marry race car driver Lance Reventlow, to whom she was wed until his death in a plane crash in 1972. He was the son of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Reventlow. He became a racing driver and entrepreneur of sorts. He founded Reventlow Automobiles Inc., which built and raced Formula One cars.
Holdridge married Albert James Skarda, a businessman from Arkansas, in 1974. They divorced in 1988.
She married Manning J. Post, a prominent West Coast Democratic Party fundraiser and adviser, in 1994. He died in 2000.
Holdridge made a cameo appearance in the 2000 feature film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.
In 2005, she appeared at Disneyland for 50th anniversary celebrations of both the opening of the park and The Mickey Mouse Club.
She was cast in televised documentary specials about Cary Grant (2005) and Barbara Hutton (2006), and also appeared in a special feature interview for a Disney DVD.
Holdridge was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments but the disease progressed rapidly.
She died on January 6, 2009 at her home in Santa Monica, California. She was surrounded by her family and friends.
She is survived by her stepdaughter Brooke Reventlow; her stepson-in-law John Goldsmith; her step-grandchildren Zachary Goldsmith and Alexandra Goldsmith; her sister-in-law Nancy Holdridge; her niece Susan Holdridge; her nephew John Holdridge Jr.; and many other relatives and friends.
Legacy and Tributes
Holdridge was remembered by her fans and colleagues as a joyous person who saw the positive side of everything. She was described as a good technical dancer, a competent actress, and a beautiful woman with an angelic look and a great smile.
She was also praised for her courage and grace in facing her illness. She never complained or felt sorry for herself. She remained optimistic and hopeful until the end.
She was honored by the Disney Legends program in 2008, which recognizes individuals who have made an extraordinary and integral contribution to The Walt Disney Company.
She was also inducted into the Mouseketeer Hall of Fame in 2009, along with other original cast members of The Mickey Mouse Club.
She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.
According to Wikipedia, Cheryl Holdridge’s cause of death was lung cancer. She was one of the many celebrities who died from this disease, such as Patrick Swayze, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and Audrey Hepburn. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, accounting for about 1.8 million deaths per year. It is often caused by smoking, exposure to radon, asbestos, or air pollution, or genetic factors. It can be prevented by quitting smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, testing for radon, and screening for high-risk individuals. It can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy. However, the survival rate is low, especially if the cancer has spread to other organs. Early detection and treatment are crucial for improving the chances of survival.