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.