The Edmond Sun

Arts & Entertainment

April 8, 2013

‘Mickey Mouse Club’ star Annette Funicello dies at 70

LOS ANGELES — Annette Funicello, the dark-haired darling of TV’s “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the 1950s who further cemented her status as a pop-culture icon in the ’60s by teaming with Frankie Avalon in a popular series of “beach” movies, died Monday. She was 70.

Funicello, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987 and became a spokeswoman for treatment of the chronic, often-debilitating disease of the central nervous system, died at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, Calif., Walt Disney Co. spokesman Howard Green said.

Funicello and her husband, Glen Holt, had moved from the Los Angeles area after a 2011 fire gutted their home in Encino.

Bob Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive, said: “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word ‘Mousketeer,’ and a true Disney legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”

Funicello was a 12-year-old dance-school student when Walt Disney saw her performing the lead role in “Swan Lake” at her dance-school’s year-end recital at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank in the spring of 1955.

She joined a group of other talented young performers hired to become Mousketeers on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the children’s variety show that debuted on ABC in October 1955 and quickly became a daily late-afternoon ritual for millions of young Americans.

Like her fellow female Mousketeers, Funicello wore a mouse-eared beanie, a blue pleated skirt, and a white, short-sleeved turtleneck sweater with her name emblazoned in block letters across her chest.

But there was something special about the Mouseketeer with the curly black hair that unexpectedly turned her into the ensemble cast’s biggest star.

Funicello made her acting debut on “The Mickey Mouse Club” serial “Adventure in Dairyland.” She also appeared in two of the popular “Spin and Marty” serials about a Western dude ranch for boys, with Tim Considine and David Stollery in the title roles. And in 1958, Disney showcased his prized Mouseketeer in her own “Annette” serial.

Mr. Disney, as Funicello always called her boss, also licensed Annette lunch boxes, Colorforms dolls, coloring books, comic books and even mystery novels featuring her in fictionalized adventures.

After “The Mickey Mouse Club” ended production in 1958 and wet into reruns, the 15-year-old Funicello was the only Mouseketeer to remain under exclusive contract to the Disney studio.

She made her feature-film debut in “The Shaggy Dog,” a 1959 comedy starring Fred MacMurray. It was the first of four Disney feature films she appeared in over the next six years, including “Babes in Toyland,” “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” and “The Monkey’s Uncle.”

Funicello received a big career boost when Disney agreed to loan her out to American International Pictures to make “Beach Party,” the song-filled, low-budget 1963 comedy in which she was first teamed on the big screen with Avalon.

In the wake of the success of “Beach Party,” Funicello and Avalon co-starred in “Muscle Beach Party,” “Bikini Beach” and “Beach Blanket Bingo.”

VISIT the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com. This story distributed by MCT Information Services.

1
Text Only
Arts & Entertainment
  • OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day

    In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
    This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
    Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
    “Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Never Girls Good Reads

    NOTE: Email dpeery@edmondsun.com to have your name entered into a drawing for the following titles: “The Never Girls: A Pinch of Magic” and/or “The Secrets of Tree Taylor.” Deadline is 10 a.m. July 28. Winner will be notified by return email. Winner is responsible for picking up the book at The Edmond Sun at 123 S. Broadway. All entrants must be 18 or older to win.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • garner4.jpg Family, friends remember Garner’s Norman roots

    Flowers started arriving at the James Garner statue at Main Street and Jones Avenue Sunday morning after residents learned of the famed actor and Norman native’s death Saturday night in California.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Banjo 1 American Banjo Museum offers look at past

    What do you call perfect pitch?  If you can throw a banjo through the window and onto the garbage truck!  My brother-in-law, a musician, told me this joke.  Boy, the banjo is the Rodney Dangerfield of instruments — it gets no respect.  Well, get ready to appreciate the banjo for its history and heritage — at the American Banjo Museum in OKC’s Bricktown. This cool museum takes you through 370 years of banjo history in eight minutes, then settles down to give you details which will keep you interested for many more.

    July 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Enjoy affordable romance in Dahlonega, Ga.

    Nestled in the mountains of northern Georgia against the Chattahoochee National Forest lies a tiny town that offers an authentic peek at a time long past. The charm of yesteryear combined with the calm of nature, friendly locals and the fun of back country roads dotted with vineyards and tasting rooms results in the perfect getaway for couples in search of a romantic escape or honeymoon destination. Those headed to Dahlonega for an intimate weekend will want to consider the following itinerary items.

    July 19, 2014

  • Kyle_Dillingham_cutout useBH.jpg Dillingham in benefit concert Monday at Symphony Center

    Musician Kyle Dillingham will perform a concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday to raise funds for a local man in need of a liver transplant.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Book to be launched at Uptown Grocery Co.

    A book focusing on support for children with autism will be launched at Uptown Grocery Co. from 2-5 p.m. July 19. “New Frontiers in Sensory Integration” is the most recent work of internationally acclaimed educator Stephanie Mines. Although based in Colorado, the neuropsychologist has gained experience in various parts of the world. Edmond was chosen as the launching place in honor of the local physical therapists who influenced Dr. Mines during her clinical trials.

    July 17, 2014

  • City Council approves $114,500 for statues

    City Council members have approved a $114,500 supplemental appropriation for public art.
    During the previous fiscal year, private contributions covered costs of a couple of larger art pieces that exceeded the city’s matching contribution limit of $35,000, causing the city to run short of budget authority as year-end activity approached, according to background provided by the council.

    July 17, 2014

  • line of girls 2877.jpg Summer camp enriches children

    Edmond's Historical Society 1889 summer camps were held in the historic one-room Territorial Schoolhouse on Second Street in Edmond. The children learned what their counterparts used 125 years ago to clean, cook and play with and experienced what a school day in the life of a child in 1889 was like.

    July 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • seamstresses.jpg Sewing camps helps girls hone in skills

    Anna Paladini (foreground) and her twin sister Alex Paladini work on their patchwork purses during the Sewing Camp held at the Parks and Recreation department in Mitch Park. The girls planned their summer vacation to see their grandparents, Kay and Mark Mades, around the camp Jeanine Smith teaches each summer.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo