Two For Tuesday: Annette Funicello

You knew I couldn’t do Frankie Avalon without tipping my hat to Annette Funicello, didn’t you?

As you probably know, Annette was one of the original Mouseketeers. She was the last one chosen and was picked by Mr. Disney himself after he saw her at the Hollywood Bowl in a recital of Swan Lake playing the Swan Queen. She proved to be one of the most popular members of the cast, soon receiving over 6000 letters a month, many presumably from lovelorn boys. In addition to participating in the Mouseketeer sketches and dance numbers, she was also featured in many of the serials on the show, including Walt Disney Presents: Annette with Richard Deacon.

Annette considered herself more of an actress and dancer than a singer, but she had a few singles, including a couple that reached the Top 10. Her best-selling single was “Tall Paul,” which reached #7 on the Hot 100 in early 1959. Here she’s helped by Dick Clark.

Her next, and last, Top 10 hit was “O Dio Mio,” which reached #10 in 1960.

Annette starrred with Frankie in several “beach party” movies for American International Pictures, starting with Beach Party in 1963. That first movie earned her a seven-year contract with American International, and was in five more through the end of her contract. She and Frankie were reunited in 1987’s Back To The Beach. She started suffering from episodes of dizziness and loss of balance as she and Frankie toured promoting the movie, and in 1992 announced that she had contracted multiple sclerosis. She lived with the disease for twenty years, finally succumbing to it in 2012 at the age of 70.

Annette Funicello, your Two for Tuesday, April 3, 2017.

17 thoughts on “Two For Tuesday: Annette Funicello

  1. I remember Annette from her Disney movies, never watched the Mickey Mouse Club. I remember watching a special on cable a few years back and they maintained that the most iconic thing she did was make the bikini respectable. Evidently, up to her beach movies the bikini was considered too risque for America even though it had been used in Europe for a long time.

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    1. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all of them, too. Problem was, I saw all of them on “The 3:30 Movie,” which was a 90-minute time slot into which a heavily-edited movie and roughly 30 minutes of commercials were shoved. They used to show reruns of “The Mickey Mouse Club” when I was in grade school, and even though they were as old as I was, Annette was frozen in time at 12 years old, so I got a chance to fall in love with her, as had a previous generation of boys. I thought of that when I heard she had died.

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  2. I always liked Annette. I watched all the beach movies and I remember when she first started showing signs of MS that the rumour was she was an alcoholic which I thought was so sad. It reminded me of how Rita Hayworth was gossiped about before it came out that she had Alzheimer’s. She was a lovely lady even if she is lip synching especially I. The second video. My sister has MS but, thankfully, she is doing well. Apparently, my area..the Niagara region, is the M.S. capital of the world and the scientists don’t know why.

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    1. Rita Hayworth is another actress who I thought was gorgeous, and yes, it’s terrible how people jump to conclusions like that. I have a guitar-playing friend who has MS, but she says it hasn’t affected her much yet. Those neurological diseases are terrible.

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  3. I remember Annette Funicello from the Mickey Mouse Club, her “beach party” movies and her songs. Back then she was my wannabe idol, I wanted to look like Annette and run away with Frankie Avalon. Ah, the dreams of a teenager. I was saddened when she passed.

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