TOPSTORIESANNETTE FUNICELLO i 1f'412-2('13
AI l-American gi rlfur ageneration
Mouseketeer'Annette g":HI^itrS,charmed in 1955.
aAnnette Funicello, who grewfrom a beloved Disney childstar to the queen ofteen "beachparty" movies, died yesterdayat Mercy Southwest Hospitalin Bakersfield, Calif. She was70.
Funicello, who announced in1992 she had been diagrrosedwith multiple sclerosis five yearsearlier, died of complicationsfrom that degenerative disease.
Bob Iger, chairman and chiefexecutive of The Walt DisneyCo., said in a statement, "Shewill forever hold a place in ourhearts as one of Walt Disney'sbrightest stars, delighting an en-tire generation of babyboomers with her jubilant per-sonality and endless talent. An-nette was well known for beingas beautiful inside as she wason the outside, and she facedher physical challenges withdignity, bravery and grace."
As the most popular of theyoung Mouseketeers on ABC's1955-59 children's variety show"The Mickey Mouse Club," shehelped entertain a generationglued to their black-and-whiteTV sets every weekday afterschool. Blossoming into ayoung woman, she enticedmany of that same generationto a raft of beach-party movies,beginning with the aptly titled"Beach Party" in 1963, whenshe was 21.
"She never knew how famousshe was," her frequent co-starFrankie Avalon told Newsday in2007, "because she wasn't outthere in the middle of everything
she was busy being marriedand having babies. |ust a wonder-fi.rI, wonderfirl person."
Born Oct. 22,L942, in uPstateUtica, she moved with her fami-ly to Los Angeles'San FernandoValley at age 4. Discovered at 13while dancing the lead in "SwanLake" at the Starlight Bowl inBurbanh she was invitedto audi-tion for the upcoming "MickeyMouse Club" series.
Afterward, she became theonly Mouseketeer to remainunder contract to Disney, andstarred in such studio features as"The Shaggy Dog" (1959),"Babes in Toyland" (1961), "TheMisadventures of Merlin fones"