LOS ANGELES — The arrest last week of former child star Fievel Mousekewitz is the latest setback in the actor’s difficult road to recovery, a path that has included repeated stints in rehabilitation facilities as well as a 2007 arrest for prostitution in the Skid Row neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles.
The latest run-in with the law for Mousekewitz, who skyrocketed to superstardom upon the release of “An American Tail” in 1986, came last Wednesday, when the Tarzana-born trouper was arrested for possession of doxycycline, an oral antibiotic commonly used to treat sinusitis. Also sold under the brand names Microdox, Vibramycin and Adoxa, doxycycline in recent years has become increasingly popular among street drug users, who smoke the drug in freebase form to provide a high police describe as similar to that provided by the more expensive heroin.
Mousekewitz’s downward spiral into drug addiction and prostitution has become an all-too-familiar tale in Hollywood, where young actors have long struggled to make the transition from child star to adulthood. Mousekewitz discussed his own struggles with that transition in a brutally honest post-rehab interview with Vanity Fair in 2008.
“I don’t remember much about the years after filming ‘An American Tail: Fievel Goes West’,” admitted Mousekewitz while discussing the sequel to the film that made him a household name. “I was 17 or 18 when we finished filming ‘FGW,’ and I remember my agent telling me at the wrap party that all he had lined up for me was a guest spot on ‘Darkwing Duck.’ I had just come off two pretty successful features in five years, and now the only job I could land was a guest spot where I kowtowed to Launchpad McQuack? That’s when things started to unravel.”
Though Mousekewitz would film the guest appearance on “Darkwing” in 1991, his performance ultimately proved memorable for all the wrong reasons.
“Frankly, he was a mess,” recalls McQuack, who battled his own demons with painkillers and alcoholism after injuring his back on set in 1994. “He was there to do an episode called ‘Beauty and the Beet,’ which is when we first introduced the Dr. Bushroot character, whose backstory included this strong passion for plants. So we must have had 100 plants on set the day Mousekewitz was filming his guest spot, but the plants just kept disappearing between takes. Turns out Mousekewitz was back in his trailer smoking all these plants with (his ‘An American Tail’ costar) Warren T. Rat. We paid him for the day, but we cut him out in post. He was just so out of it that we didn’t think kids should see him like that.”
In his 2009 autobiography, “Cautionary Tail,” Mousekewitz cited his initial connection with the conman Rat as a turning point for his life that saw him transform from a beloved, innocent and family-friendly rodent into a sullen mouse on a crash course with the perils of addiction.
“People would call him Warren T. Rat Bastard if they knew the truth,” Mousekewitz wrote of Rat, who aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia in 1996 after a 48-hour whole milk binge. “I’m definitely responsible for my own life and where that life has gone over the last couple of decades. But I’ve met some pretty bad people in the last 20 years, and no one had a worse impact on my life than Rattie. No one.”
Hollywood appeared to give Mousekewitz a second chance in 1992 when Universal Cartoon Studios ordered 13 episodes of “Fievel’s American Tails,” a series that followed Fievel and his friend, Tiger, on a series of adventures in the western United States. But Mousekewitz’s reputation preceded him, and after just three episodes and numerous on-set blowups he was fired and subsequently replaced with former “The Rescuers” star Bernard, a decision that doomed both the show and any chance Mousekewitz had at a comeback.
“I love Bernard and I’d give him a hunk of cheese any day,” notes “Fievel’s Tails” costar Clint Mousewood. “But at that point in his career Bernard just wasn’t up for carrying a show and we all knew the show was as doomed without Mousekewitz as it had been with Mousekewitz.”
Since that firing, the one-time child star has experienced few ups and numerous downs, including his latest arrest, during which Mousekewitz allegedly offered to perform various sexual acts on his arresting officer in exchange for his release. Attempts to reach Mousekewitz for this story were unsuccessful.