Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Greg Goodsell

4/8/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Diagnosed over 20 years ago, star kept brave face until her death at age 70

She was a symbol of wholesomeness in a decade that saw tumult and change. The most popular Mouseketeer on TV's "Mickey Mouse Club," Annette Funicello would go on to star in a string of beach party movies. She has died from the insidious disease of multiple sclerosis after a long battle. Funicello was 70.

The adorable brunette was just 13 when she gained fame on Walt Disney's television kiddie 'club,' a combination of stories, songs and dance routines that ran from 1955 to 1959. She appeared in mouse ears, a pleated skirt and a sweater emblazoned with her name.

The adorable brunette was just 13 when she gained fame on Walt Disney's television kiddie "club," a combination of stories, songs and dance routines that ran from 1955 to 1959. She appeared in mouse ears, a pleated skirt and a sweater emblazoned with her name.

Highlights

By Greg Goodsell

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/8/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Celebrity

Keywords: Annette Funicello, Mouseketeer, Walt Disney, beach parties, multiple sclerosis, death


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - She passed away at Mercy Southwest Hospital (Now known as Dignity Health) in Bakersfield, California, of complications from multiple sclerosis, the Walt Disney Company said.

The adorable brunette was just 13 when she gained fame on Walt Disney's television kiddie "club," a combination of stories, songs and dance routines that ran from 1955 to 1959. She appeared in mouse ears, a pleated skirt and a sweater emblazoned with her name.

Born in 1942, in Utica, N.Y., Funicello's family moved to Los Angeles when she was four years old. She began taking dance lessons the following year and won a beauty contest at 9. She was discovered by Walt Disney in 1955, who she considered a second father and a trusted friend.

"I have been blessed to have a mentor like Walt Disney," she said 40 years later. "Those years were the happiest of my life. I felt that back then. I feel the same today."

When "The Mickey Mouse Club" ended, Funicello was the only club member to remain under contract to the studio. Appearing in such Disney movies as "Johnny Tremain," "The Shaggy Dog," "The Horsemasters," "Babes in Toyland," "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones," "The Monkey's Uncle," Funicello would later star in a series of "beach party" movies. Begun by American International Pictures, the films would paint a fantasy world of sun, surf and awful jokes. 

"Beach Blanket Bingo," "Muscle Beach Party," "Bikini Beach," "Beach Blanket Bingo," "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" and "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine" kept drive-in audiences chuckling through the Sixties.

It was even here that Uncle Walt extended his influence. "Mr. Disney said to me one day, 'Annette, I have a favor to ask of you. I know all the girls are wearing bikinis, but you have an image to uphold. I would appreciate it if you would wear a one-piece suit.' I did, and I never regretted it."

With the arrival of the Beatles in 1964, coupled with Funicello's first marriage the following year pretty much ended the party.

She also became a recording star, singing on 15 albums and hit singles such as "Tall Paul" and "Pineapple Princess."

She and costar Frankie Avalon staged a reunion in 1987 with "Back to the Beach." It was during the filming that she noticed she had trouble walking, the first sign of MS. She went public with her ordeal in 1992.

"My equilibrium is no more; it's just progressively getting worse," she would say in TV special. "But I thank God I just didn't wake up one morning and not be able to walk. You learn to live with it. You learn to live with anything, you really do.

"I've always been religious. This just makes me appreciate the Lord even more because things could always be worse. I know he will see me through this."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Celebrity

Hilarious viral video: Comedienne does 14 celebrity impressions while in traffic Watch

Image of With a short brown wig, Lauren O'Brien does a perpetually perky Ellen DeGeneres who lets the world know that a traffic jam is not going to get her down!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Is it safe to do celebrity impersonations behind the wheel of a car? Probably not, but the end result from comedienne Lauren O'Brien does 14 celebrity mock-ups while driving, and the result was video viral gold - her impersonations are hilariously spot on and ... continue reading


Hollywood's longest and most successful marriages: What's their secret? Watch

Image of Christopher Walken has these Hollywood couples all beat; married to casting director Georgianne Walken, this couple has been together since 1969, for a total of 45 years!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hollywood celebrities are notorious for short-lived marriages. Film stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor can both boast of being married eight different times. There are the exceptions: Some Hollywood couples take their marriage vows very, very ... continue reading


Lebanese singer gives Arab world a scare - by wearing a dress that's barely there! Watch

Image of Haifa Wehbe is clearly on one side of the debate within Arab society. The dreaded Islamic State represents the other extreme in people's minds.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A dress worn by famous Lebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe - a slinky, revealing number on TV has caused a great hue and cry over Arab social media sites, chiefly from women. Wehbe performed a song during a live episode of "Arab Star Academy," a pan-Arab TV music ... continue reading


Director Mike Nichols of 'The Graduate' dies at 83 Watch

Image of Actress Meryl Streep, one of his most frequent collaborators, once said of Mike Nichols,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Acclaimed film director Mike Nichols, who made such films as "The Graduate," which earned him a best director Oscar, and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," has died at the age of 83. Married to ABC News veteran Diane Sawyer, Nichols claimed success in both ... continue reading


Fitness guru Richard Simmons reported to be down in dumps, reclusive Watch

Image of Unseen for months, some say the death of Richard Simmons' beloved pet Dalmatian is reportedly the reason behind his depression. His 17-year-old dog Hattie's passing has drove him to despair.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Perpetually perky fitness guru Richard Simmons hasn't been seen publicly for some time now and he's reportedly deeply depressed. It's almost not possible to think of Simmons in a bad mood, as he led millions away from a sedentary lifestyle to far more vibrant ... continue reading


Bad boy movie director Quentin Tarantino says he will retire after his 10th film Watch

Image of Bad boy movie director Quentin Tarantino -- looking smug!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bad boy movie director Quentin Tarantino says that he intends to retire from filmmaking altogether following the completion of his tenth film.  "I don't believe you should stay onstage until people are begging you to get off," he told an American Film Market ... continue reading


'House of Cards' star Elizabeth Norment dies of cancer at 61 Watch

Image of Elizabeth Norment, who played the loyal secretary to Kevin Spacey's character on

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Especially tragic is the case of an actor who finally wins the spotlight and attention of popular audiences, only to die before their prime. Elizabeth Norment, who played the loyal secretary to Kevin Spacey's character on "House of Cards" on Netflix has died of ... continue reading


'Welcome Back Kotter' star Marcia Strassman dies at 66 Watch

Image of Marcia Strassman was the familiar, flustered housewife Gabe Kaplan came home to after the day spent with his

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

She was a familiar face on TV's "Welcome Back Kotter" back in the 1970s. She was the familiar, flustered housewife Gabe Kaplan came home to after the day spent with his "sweathogs." Actress Marcia Strassman has lost her battle with breast cancer. She was 66. ... continue reading


Acclaimed actress arrested by L.A. cops who thought she was prostitute Watch

Image of Whatever the investigation will yield, there's little doubt that a lasting shame will linger over the fact that one of the stars of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Acting in an acclaimed film doesn't count or much street respect in Los Angeles, it appears. Actress Danielle Watts, who appeared as the slave maid "CoCo" in "Django Unchained" was mistaken for a prostitute by the Los Angeles Police Department while she kissed ... continue reading


James Bond villain 'Jaws' Richard Kiel dies at 74 Watch

Image of Richard Kiel was best known as the steel-toothed James Bond villain Jaws in

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

He was big: seven feet, two inches tall. He was not conventionally handsome. That didn't stop Richard Kiel from enjoying his career as a movie star. While he was in countless movies and TV shows, Kiel was probably best known as the steel-toothed villain "Jaws" ... continue reading


All Celebrity News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9
1 After this, I saw another angel come down from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:20-28
20 'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 27th, 2014 Image

St. James Intercisus
November 27: James was a favorite of King Yezdigerd I of Persia and a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter