Today the world learned of the passing of beloved Mousketeer Annette Funicello, one of the most popular members of the original Mickey Mouse Club who transitioned into a successful film career that propelled her to teen idol status. She was 70 years old.
Annette popularized the teen beach film with Frankie Avalon in Beach Party; they co-starred together in a string of sequels and even went on a singing tour in 1989 and 1990.
In 1987, Annette was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but did not reveal her condition to the public until 1992, encouraged by her best lifelong friend Shelley Fabares. In the following years, she founded the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases. Proceeds from her collectible teddy bear line and perfume went toward the fund.
In addition to her Disney days on the small screen and in adored features in studio films like Babes in Toyland, the Sherman Brothers wrote popular tunes for her, including her biggest hit “Tall Paul.”
Annette remained a champion in the face of her disease even as it progressed; she will always be remembered by the generation who grew up with her as children and teens, treasuring her grace and cheerfulness that always remained.
Through the years, we’ll all be friends, wherever we may be.