The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure
“ Gold doubloons and Pieces of eight handed down to Applegate, from buccaneers who fought for years for Gold doubloons and Pieces of eight….pieces of eight “
On October 1, 1956 the first Hardy Boys serial “ The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure “ debuted on Walt Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club. Composed of ten minute segments the serial ran for 19 days, gaining popularity and excitement with each subsequent episode. Little buccaneers from all across America scurried home from school each day to see what new clue the Hardy Boys had discovered.
Old Silas Applegate’s fabled chest of golden treasure had been missing for ten long years but when young Perry Robinson finds a solitary doubloon lying beneath a bush on Applegate’s creepy estate, the search begins anew!
The first season of The Mickey Mouse Club had featured a serial called “Spin and Marty” about two boys ( Tim Considine and David Stollery ) who spend a summer at the Triple R dude ranch. It was enormously popular, so in the wake of its success Walt Disney launched “The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure”, a mystery serial based on the popular Hardy Boys story The Tower Treasure by author Franklin W. Dixon.
The Studio considered reteaming the two young actors as the Hardy sleuths but instead chose to search for a younger actor to play Frank Hardy’s impetuous kid brother Joe. Tommy Kirk was the lucky lad chosen after dozens of applicants were scoured, and he went on to make many more films for Walt Disney in the upcoming years, becoming one of the Studio’s most famous child stars. Tim Considine was a natural to play Frank so no recasting was necessary there.
Iola Martin, the spunky little neighborhood girl who likes to join the Hardy’s in their sleuthing, was played by Carol Anne Campbell, and Sarah Selby and Ross Conway, two veteran television actors were cast as papa Fenton Hardy and worrisome Aunt Gertrude. Florenz Ames pranced around waving cutlasses as old man Applegate and Robert Foulk and Arthur Shields ( Barry Fitzgerald’s brother, and a man with just as fine an Irish brogue ) played our two “thugs”.
In 1957 “ The Mystery of the Ghost Farm “, another installment in the Hardy Boys series, premiered but alas, this one was much tamer due to some complaints from parents that the dangers encountered by the Hardy boys in the Applegate mystery were too exciting for their wee ones. Such a shame, because that triggered the end of the series and it would have been so nice had a few feature films been made in addition to them. At least “ The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure “ is available on DVD and on these cool and colorful October days we can sit back and enjoy a good mystery done in classic Disney fashion…..wholesome, humorous, and thrilling.