Former Mouseketeer Bonita Lynn Fields Elder, an agile dancer who showcased those skills on the 1950s children’s show “The Mickey Mouse Club” and later performed on Broadway, died Saturday at in Richmond, Ind., following a two-year battle with throat cancer. She was 68.
Elder had been living in Winchester after moving back to eastern Indiana a few years ago to care for her ailing, now-deceased mother.
She was 12 in 1957, when her dancing abilities helped her win a slot on the third season of “The Mickey Mouse Club.” She auditioned in California, where her family had moved from Indiana when she was 9.
Elder always went by the name Lynn, but she adopted the stage name “Bonnie” — a shortened version of her real first name — at the suggestion of the show’s producers because there was already a cast member, a boy, with the first name Lynn.
After the original “Mickey Mouse Club” show ended, Elder continued performing at Disneyland. She also appeared into two Disney serials, “The New Adventures of Spin and Marty” and “Annette.”
She landed bit parts in several 1960s movies, including “Kissin’ Cousins” with Elvis Presley and “Bye Bye Birdie” with Ann-Margret. She later appeared as a dancer on television shows and on Broadway in “Kelly” and “Half a Sixpence” before opening a dance studio in Santa Monica.
In 1980 Elder appeared on a televised program marking the 25th anniversary of “The Mickey Mouse Club.” From 1981-85, she took part in live Mouseketeer reunion shows at Disneyland.
Elder was born in Walterboro, S.C., but her family moved to Richmond when she was 3 months old. She was divorced and had no children.