Girl next door Annette Funicello dies at 70

Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon

She was the first crush for a generation of boys, the perfect playmate for a generation of girls.

Annette Funicello, who became a child star as a cute-as-a-button Mouseketeer on “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the 1950s, ruled among baby boomers, who tuned in every weekday afternoon to watch her on their flickering black-and-white television sets.

Then they shed their mouse ears, as Annette did when she teamed up with Frankie Avalon during the ’60s in a string of frothy, fun-in-the-sun movies with titles like “Beach Blanket Bingo” and “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.”

Decades later, she endeared herself to baby boomers all over again after she announced in 1992 that she had multiple sclerosis and began grappling with the slow, degenerative effects with remarkably good cheer and faith.

Funicello died on Monday at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, Calif., of complications from MS, the Walt Disney Co. said. She was 70 and had dropped from public view years ago.

“She really had a tough existence,” Avalon told The Associated Press. “It’s like losing a family member. I’m devastated but I’m not surprised.”

Read more:

via Girl next door Annette Funicello dies at 70 – Yahoo! News.

Annette Funicello: Her life with multiple sclerosis

Annette Funicello

(Note—today is the 70th birthday of America’s sweetheart, Annette Funicello. Born on October 22, 1942 in Utica, New York, the shy brunette found fame and popularity at the age of 12 as a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club. She also became a recording artist (“Tall Paul,” “Pineapple Princess”) and movie actress (“Beach Party”) before taking a leave of absence from show business to marry and raise her family. In the late ’70s, the mother of three starred in a series of TV commercials for Skippy Peanut Butter, and in 1987 she reunited with her beach-movie co-star Frankie Avalon for the film Back to the Beach. During the making of that film, Annette began developing the symptoms of what turned out to be multiple sclerosis. Earlier this month, CTV W5 [Canada] caught up with Annette and her husband, Glen Holt, who is now her primary caregiver. The former child star is now unable to walk or talk and requires round-the-clock care. The Holts allowed their story to be told in the hopes that a cure can be found for MS and other neurological diseases. Please click on the link below to read the story and watch the videos.)

When Annette Funicello debuted on a new children’s variety TV show called the Mickey Mouse Club, she was a shy 12-year-old girl — an unknown with big brown eyes and a sweet smile.

But the Mickey Mouse Club quickly became a television megahit and the girl known simply as “Annette” became the most popular “Mouseketeer” on the show, attracting fans all around the world. She developed into a stunning young woman, starring in several iconic, beach movies with teen heartthrob Frankie Avalon.

But in 1992 at age 50, Annette went public with devastating news — she had multiple sclerosis, a debilitating neurological disorder. She had the most severe form of the disease and over the years lost her ability to walk, relying first on a cane, then on a wheelchair. The singer and actress eventually lost her ability to talk and Annette faded from public view.

Many fans still wonder what happened to the beloved Hollywood star.

(Read more, and view the videos, by clicking the link below)

via Annette Funicello: Her life with multiple sclerosis.


Also see:
Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases (Facebook)