Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct. 22: Original Mousketeer Annette Funicello was born on this date in 1942...

... she died on April 8, 2013 from complications from multiple sclerosis.

1960's teenage heartthrob - and Mousketeer - singer and actress Annette Joanne Funicello was born on this date in Utica, New York in 1942. In the late '50s she was the most popular cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club, and went on to appear in a series of beach party films.

Her parents had her take dancing and music lessons as a child to try to overcome shyness. The Funicello family moved to Southern California when she was four years old.

In 1955, the 12-year-old was discovered by Walt Disney as she performed as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at a dance recital in Burbank, California, and was cast as one of the original "Mouseketeers." (Supposedly, she was the last to be selected, and the only one picked by Walt Disney.) By the end of the children's show's first season, she was receiving 6,000 letters a month.

In addition to the Mouseketeers' sketches and dance routines, Funicello starred or co-starred in a number of serials on The Mickey Mouse Club. These included Adventure in Dairyland, and The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty and Walt Disney Presents: Annette.

It was in a hayride scene in the Annette serial that she performed the song that launched her singing career. The studio received so much fan mail about "How Will I Know My Love," that it was issued as a single, and resulted in a recording contract.

She remained under contract with Disney after she left "The Club" and was cast in a number of TV shows. She also co-starred in Disney-produced movies such as The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Monkey's Uncle.

Annette had a number of pop record hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly written by the Sherman Brothers and including: "Tall Paul," "O Dio Mio," "Train of Love" (written by Paul Anka) and "Pineapple Princess." Annette also recorded "It's Really Love" in 1959. [edit] Beach

She also starred in a series of "Beach Party" movies with Frankie Avalon including Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and Pajama Party. The duo were so popular - and to a degree icons of an era - they were re-united in 1987 for the film Back to the Beach, which parodied their earlier films.

In 10992, Annette announced that she had multiple sclerosis. In 1993, she opened the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation.

Recommended (Links to Amazon):

A Musical Reunion with America's Girl Next DoorAnnette Ultimate Collection (Beach Party)Walt Disney Treasures: The Mickey Mouse Club Presents Annette - 1957-1958 Season (Collector's Tin)


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