Karen Pendleton, one of the original Mouseketeers has died at age 73. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pendleton passed away following a heart attack on Sunday in Fresno, California, as announced by Disney historian and author, Lorraine Santolini.
As was one of only nine Mouseketeers that appeared on the entire original run of the Mickey Mouse Club from 1955 to 1959, Pendleton was also one of the youngest on the show. She was initially recruited from a dancing school by producers who were seeking kids to try out for the new show. After The Mickey Mouse Club, Pendleton left show business to finish her schooling, and later got married and had a daughter in 1973 (she then divorced in 1981). Tragically, in 1983 she was in an automobile accident and was left paralyzed from the waist down. She would go on to become an advocate for those with disabilities and became a board member of the California Association of the Physically Handicapped.
Throughout her life, Pendleton participated in numerous Mouseketeer reunion events and made many convention appearances. Her daughter, Staci, said in a statement "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."
She was also survived by her two grandchildren.