Annette Funicello, One of the Original and Most Beloved Mouseketeers, Dies at Age 70 … Rest in Peace
One of America’s original Mouskeeteer sweethearts has passed …
Annette Funicello, one of the original and most beloved ‘Mousketeers’ from the 1950′s Mickey Mouse Club has died at the age of 70. According to a Disney statement, Funicello “died peacefully from complications due to multiple sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years” at a Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, CA. Annette Funicello went on from a Mouseketeer to one of America’s sweethearts acting in numerous movies, including those memorable beach party movies in the early 1960′s with Frankie Avalon like “Bikini Beach” and ”Beach Blanket Bingo”. She also recorded more than 30 albums. Annette Funicello represents a time and innocence in America long since past and a movie star that with such incredible fame, always remained humble. Doctors diagnosed Funicello with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disease, in 1987. She kept the illness a secret until 1992, the year she established The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases.
Annette Funicello: October 22, 1942 – April 8, 2013 … RIP
“We are so sorry to lose Mother,” her three children said in a statement. “She is no longer suffering anymore and is now dancing in heaven. We love and will miss her terribly.”
Funicello was just 13 when she was selected by Walt Disney himself to be one of the original Mouseketeers of the “Mickey Mouse Club,” the 1950s television variety show aimed at children.
Funicello, who had a background in dance, quickly became one of the most popular Mouseketeers.
She “was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mouseketeer, and a true Disney Legend,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said.
She remained with Disney after leaving the “Mickey Mouse Club,” appearing in TV shows including “Zorro” (1957), “The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca” (1958) and starring in the Disney feature films “The Shaggy Dog” (1959), “Babes in Toyland” (1961), “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” (1964) and “The Monkey’s Uncle” (1965).
The most enduring images of Funicello, though, may be of her in a swimsuit, her primary wardrobe when she co-starred with teen idol Frankie Avalon in beach party movies in the early 1960s. These included “Beach Party” (1963), “Muscle Beach Party” (1964), “Bikini Beach” (1964), “Beach Blanket Bingo” (1965), and “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini” (1965).
Annette Joanne Funicello was born on Oct. 22, 1942, in Utica, N.Y., and as the first grandchild on either side of the family was indulged to the point of being, in her own words, a “spoiled brat.” At age 2, she learned the words to every song on the hit parade, her favorite being “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive.”
In 1946, her parents decided to move to Southern California in the hope of doing better economically. They lived in a trailer park until her father, a mechanic, found work. They settled in Studio City and later moved to Encino.
Disney: Beloved Disney Mouseketeer and Iconic Teen Star Annette Funicello Dies at Age 70.
“Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”
- Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
Beach Blanket Bingo … Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon
One thing is for certain, this is truly a sad day.