Today, like millions of others across the nation we mourn the passing of a unique personality, Annette Funicello. She was, as the obiturary in The New York Times headlined her, “Beloved.”

Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, and like many of you, we grew up with Annette.

Although she never made any classic films she made her mark in the culture of her time. She had songs written about her (Paul Anka’s Puppy Love) — she recorded hit songs —Tall Paul — she came into our homes as a Mouseketeer — and she and Frankie Avalon charmed the nation in a series of “Beach Movies.”

Her acting was passable enough, but it was her charm, her sweetness, her “realness” which won the day.

She is, was, and always will be a star. One of our criteria for that appellation is she is known by either name. In the 50s and 60s she was known my millions. She, like Betty Grable, Doris Day and Sandra Dee before her represented the girl next door.
When she got married the news sparked a comment in the Peanuts comic strip. When the musical Grease parodied the era they only had to mention her name in the lyrics.

 

She was discovered by Walt Disney, who guided her career.

After her marriage and semi retirement she had three children and led a quiet life with just a few returns to show business, but always very tastefully.  When she learned she’d been stricken with multiple sclerosis she kept the news secret for five years, then went public as the disease became apparent to many. She set up the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases.

Her 1994 autobiography, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, is worth a look.

And in tribute why not rent an old Beach movie to remember her by.

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