Annette Funicello Most Loved Mouseketeer Dead at 70

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Most Loved Mouseketeer Dead at 70

In 1992, the world learned that the most famous Mouseketeer, and star of the “Beach Party” films, was suffering with multiple sclerosis.  Today we learned that she is lost to us all.  Annette Funicello is dead at the age of 70.

She began her career at the tender age of 13 when Walt Disney saw her at a dance recital.  He made her one of the original members of the “Mickey Mouse Club”.  She began receiving over 8000 fan letters a month, 10 times more than any of the other Mouseketeers.

The Walt Disney Company released the news:  “Ms. Funicello died peacefully from complications due to multiple sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years.”

“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.”

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.

Her television image produced fans of all ages.  Young men enjoyed watching her grow up, and young women viewed her as sweet, and “just plain nice”, while parents perceived her as the “perfect daughter”.

Ms. Funicello stayed a part of the Disney family, appearing in television shows such as 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).

She also had a singing career with hits Tall Paul,” “First Name Initial,” “How Will I Know My Love,” and “Pineapple Princess.”

She became part of the beginnings of “rock and roll”.  She was the youngest member of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tour, which included LaVern Baker, the Drifters, Bobby Rydell, the Coasters and Paul Anka. Mr. Anka, her boyfriend, wrote “Puppy Love” for her in her parents’ living room.

Many of her fans will always remember her most for the “Beach Party” series of movies, and her uniform, that perfectly fit bikini.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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