Annette Funicello, a Disney Mouseketeer on TV's The Mickey Mouse Club who went on to fame by co-starring in several beach movies with Frankie Avalon in the 1960s, has died. She was 70.I grew up with Annette having been around during her Mouse Club years, the Disney Films, and the Beach Party movies. I had always hoped to write about some of her films, and will still do so I'm sure. Annette (you seldom used her last name. She was always Annette to us.) was one of the great icons of the 50's and 60's, and her long struggle with M.S. is finally over. I'll have more to say about Annette later.
Funicello, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987 and became a spokeswoman for treatment of the disease, died Monday at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, the Walt Disney Co. announced.
Although single-names were not in vogue at the time, her popularity was so wide and her personality so familiar that she was “Annette.” No last name needed.
The quintessence of innocence, mixed with dark good looks and beguiling charm, she was a male ideal and a female role model. Wholesome in the best sense, Funicello was drive-ins, sock hops, beach parties and malted milks -- the personification of an innocent era.
Frankie Avalon who was her lifelong friend and starred with her in the Bikini Beach movies was interviewed by TMZ.
Opening scenes of Beach Blanket Bingo, with Annette, Frankie Avalone, and a cast of many.