Spin & Marty Grow Up : Nostalgia: Laguna Beach’s David Stollery and Tim Considine found friendship and fame on the Triple R. Forty years later, they still enjoy camaraderie--and cars.
When David Stollery’s old pal Tim Considine called to ask if he’d like to appear with him at a Holly wood memorabilia collectors show to sign autographs last fall, Stollery agreed it sounded like fun. But he wondered: “Is anyone going to remember us?”
Stollery, a Laguna Beach resident, needn’t have worried. No one who grew up watching television in the 1950s could forget Considine and Stollery.
As the stars of the “Spin and Marty” adventure serial, which ran from 1955 to 1958 on the hugely popular “Mickey Mouse Club,” the teen-age actors were an overnight sensation.
“Mouse Club” viewers by the millions seemingly couldn’t get enough of them. They were swamped with fan mail. And at personal appearances at Disneyland, fans would line up by the hundreds all day long to get their autographs.
“It blew me away,” recalled Considine. “I think it blew Stollery away too. I don’t think either one of us were prepared for it.”
“I don’t believe Disney and the management there had any comprehension it was going to be this popular,” Stollery said.
The setting for “Spin and Marty” was a childhood dream come true: a Western dude ranch for boys (the Triple R, for trivia buffs), where the boys rode horses, slept in a bunkhouse and--in between various adventures--sang around the campfire at night.
Stollery--the light-haired one--played spoiled rich kid Marty Markham--"Master Martin” to Perkins, his English butler, who accompanied him to the ranch.
Considine--the dark-haired one with the cool ‘50s flattop--was Spin Evans, the poor city kid who loved horses and became snotty Marty’s instant adversary.
Of course, opposites attract, and by the end of the first serial--after a few skirmishes and a boxing match--the rivals were the best of friends.
The next season at the Triple R, boys learned there was more to life than horses. A girls’ camp cropped up across the lake--the Circle H Ranch--with no less than the teen queen of the Disney lot playing one of the girls: Mouseketeer Annette Funicello.
Stollery and Considine, who were good friends before being cast in “Spin and Marty,” were 14 when they started doing the serial.
Today, they’re 54 and, like those who watched them on TV, they’ve gone on with their lives, relegating childhood memories of “Spin and Marty” to the nostalgic past.
Stollery is the owner of Industrial Design Research Inc., a small design firm run out of his hilltop home in Laguna Beach, where he and his wife, Carol, a computer programmer and systems analyst, have lived for more than a decade.
Stollery’s firm focuses on automotive and product design. A car he designed as a promotional prototype debuted at the North American Auto Show in Detroit in 1991 and was ranked sixth out of 10 worldwide by Motor Trend magazine.
The sleek two-seat, mid-engine roadster with a 350 cubic-inch Chevy engine generated international publicity in automotive trade magazines, and Stollery is gearing up to manufacture a limited production run--10 to 20 cars a year--for collectors.
His firm also was commissioned to build the submarine bridge for TV’s “seaQuest,” and he designed, engineered and manufactured lifeguard towers now used in San Clemente and several other California beach cities.
Considine, who left the Disney fold in 1960 to play the eldest son on “My Three Sons,” phased out his acting career more than a decade ago and is now a producer, writer and author of two sports books.
A Beverly Hills resident married 16 years to producer Willie Hunt-Considine, he writes regularly for several automotive magazines and has written about Stollery and his car for Auto Week.
Cars have been a common bond between Stollery and Considine since they met as child actors on the set of “Her 12 Men” starring Greer Garson in 1953.
“This was the second movie I had ever been in,” recalled Considine, who felt intimidated by “all the other kid actors. I was a bashful kid, and they were all really animated and jumping around and stuff. David was kind of quiet, but we hit it off. We had similar interests: cars and girls, and at that time it was much more cars than girls.”
Both Considine and Stollery are examples of former child actors who managed to grow up in front of the camera without accumulating any scars to their psyches.
Stollery, whose father was an accountant and whose mother was a former Portland radio star who moved to Hollywood in the ‘30s, began acting at 6.
His first movie role was a small part in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” a 1949 film starring Bing Crosby. At 7, he was touring with Judith Anderson in “Medea.” And in 1953 he was named the best child actor of the year on Broadway for his role in “On Borrowed Time.”
His theater work was supplemented by movies such as “Jack and the Beanstalk” (1952) with Abbott and Costello, and a ton of TV appearances, from the “Red Skelton Show” to “I Love Lucy.” (He played one of the Western-outfitted “terrible twins” in an episode that finds Lucy singing “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” with the two obnoxious boys in a talent show.)
Considine, who began acting at 11, was born into a successful show-business family: His father was motion-picture producer John W. Considine (“Son of the Sheik,” “Boys Town”) and his mother is the daughter of theater chain owner Alexander Pantages.
“They weren’t at all impressed by show business, which was great and a marked difference to the experience of most of my contemporaries,” Considine said. “I could just do it if it was convenient and didn’t interfere with my life. Whenever it interfered with my life, I retired.”
It was after another of his “periodic retirements” that Considine’s agent had him report to a casting call at the Disney Studios.
Stollery remembers it being “just another call.”
Considine remembers that he and dozens of other kids spent the day playing softball while waiting to do their readings. “That was the main action of the day as far as I was concerned,” he said.
It was only about a year ago that Stollery learned from Considine that another actor originally had been cast as Marty: Tim Considine.
“I told them I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t see myself playing that snotty little kid,” recalled Considine, who told his agent he wanted to play the role of Spin.
“I liked Spin because he was cool, which is why that character was so popular,” he said. “Spin was the poor kid from the city; he was sympathetic and could do everything. He could ride a horse and do this and that, and, of course, I wanted to be that guy.”
Considine said that the serial was based on the book “The Marty Markham Story” by Lawrence Edward Markham and that his agent protested that the role of Spin was too tiny compared to the one he had landed as Marty.
In the end, his agent told the producers that Considine would do the serial if he could play Spin and if Spin were an equal-sized role.
Considine said he’s not “dead sure about it, but I think I recommended David Stollery for Marty. I thought he could play this little rich kid. Stollery was really a good kid actor.”
“Spin and Marty” was filmed summers at the Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon, a 40-minute bus ride from the Disney Studios. The young actors would pile into the bus with a parent or guardian in the morning and return at night.
“It was great,” recalled Considine. “We learned how to ride and rope. I got pretty good at it. During that whole Disney time, you’re 15 years old, and there’s some pretty primo experiences--typical of any adolescent--so it was a very meaningful time for me. Very exciting.”
Of course, the typical adolescent wasn’t within heavy breathing distance of that dark-haired Adolescent Icon of the ‘50s. So, the big question: Did he date Annette?
“Oh, I’m asked it all the time,” said Considine with a laugh, recalling that he and Annette were linked in Disney publicity stories and in fan magazines because “she and I were the most popular characters in that show. And, again, I just picked the cool guy (role), so that’s why I was.”
Annette, he recalled, “really was absolutely charming and a very nice person, and it showed through. She wasn’t the prettiest, but she was charming and real, and I think people identified with her, and later she got absolutely knock-down beautiful.”
Funicello has frequently confessed to having had a crush on Considine, but when he first saw her at the studio, Considine thought the 12-year-old Mouseketeer was but a “meer child.” “I just ignored her,” he said. “A couple of years later, however, she sprouted, and those differences in age became less important.”
By then it was too late: “At that time she couldn’t see me for sour apples,” he said. “So we never really got together other than as friends.”
Stollery never dated Funicello either, but he did date blonde Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge a few times. “She was gorgeous,” he said.
Both Stollery and Considine did other parts for Disney in the late ‘50s: Stollery was in the feature film “Westward Ho, the Wagons” (1956) and Considine, who also played Frank Hardy in “The Hardy Boys” serial on the “Mickey Mouse Club,” appeared in “The Shaggy Dog” (1959).
But cars, more than acting, remained their biggest shared interest.
“We used to fantasize about what we wanted to do. (Stollery) always wanted to design them; I always wanted to drive them,” said Considine, who bought his first race car while doing “Spin and Marty.” At the time, he recalled, Stollery painted a picture of the Italian-made car.
Considine continued acting through the early ‘80s, earning a place in trivia annals by playing the cowardly soldier that George C. Scott slaps in “Patton.”
But when Stollery turned 18, he was faced with choosing between continuing acting or following his dream of becoming a car designer.
Stollery said he had seen too many child actors fail to make the transition to adult roles, and he didn’t want to take a chance that his acting career would dry up, resulting in him being “dead meat” without an education.
“Acting was never something that I was drawn to,” he said. “I thought I would never work hard enough or take it seriously enough to really be competitive, and that’s the reason I got out.”
He enrolled in Art Center College of Design in Hollywood, where he graduated at the top of his class in 1964 and landed a coveted job as a junior designer at General Motors in Detroit. (He teaches one class a week at his alma mater, which is now in Pasadena.)
At General Motors, Stollery found he had to overcome his celebrity past.
“People later told me they had some concern, even though the portfolio was good and I interviewed well and so on, that I might just be a spoiled rich kid that was looking for glory in the design world, and God knows there’s enough of them,” he said.
“I think I was aware of the fact that they were watching for some slip-ups, but this is what I loved to do with my life anyway, so nobody had to tell me to get there on time; nobody had to tell me to work hard.”
In 1974, Stollery was contracted by Toyota to set up its North American research and development group. As design manager of the Newport Beach facility, he designed several cars, including the 1978 Toyota Celica, which earned him the California designer of the year award.
He worked for Toyota for seven years, until going out on his own in 1980.
That same year he was reunited with Considine for the first time in many years at a Disneyland event.
“They didn’t tell me he was coming down,” recalled Considine, “and it completely blew me away.”
They kept in touch sporadically until they agreed to sign autographs at the Hollywood Collectors Show in North Hollywood last fall, joining other vintage celebrities in selling autographed 8-by-10s at $5 a pop.
“We just did it as a hoot just to see what it was about,” Considine said. “It was mostly fun because Stollery and I were plunked together for several hours, and we had a great time together.”
Cars remain their favorite topic of discussion.
“It’s wonderful because that was always the connection between us,” Considine said. “Honestly, you don’t get that many close friends in your life, and to be reunited with a guy I found I had a lot in common with early on is really nice.”
Considine, who recently received his Sports Car Club of America national racing license, has written about Stollery’s concept car for Auto Week and L.A. Style, and he plans to write an impression of driving Stollery’s test car for an auto magazine.
“It’s spectacular,” he said of the car. “He’s very good. I mean he’s very good. I’d say in terms of design he’s one of our heavyweights in the country.”
Not much has changed between Stollery and Considine in 40 years.
As Considine said: “He still designs them, and I still drive them, only now I write about them too.”