Los Angeles (CNN) Annette Funicello one of the best known members of the original 1950s Mickey Mouse Club and a star of numerous 1960s beach party films died Monday at a California hospital the Walt Disney Co. said.
Funicello who was 70 died peacefully from complications due to multiple sclerosis a disease she battled for over 25 years the Disney statement said.
We are so sorry to lose Mother her three children said in a statement. She is no longer suffering anymore and is now dancing in heaven. We love and will miss her terribly.
Funicello was just 13 when she was selected by Walt Disney himself to be one of the original Mouseketeers of the Mickey Mouse Club the 1950s television variety show aimed at children.Legendary Mouseketeer Funicello dies Annette Funicello here in the mid 1950s became famous as one of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club. Funicello 70 died Monday April 8 at a California hospital of complications from multiple sclerosis the Walt Disney Co. said. Funicello and Jimmie Dodd promote The Micky Mouse Club in 1957. Walt Disney selected Funicello to be on the popular children's show when she was 12. ' American Bandstand host Dick Clark interviews Funicello in the mid 1950s. With a background in dance she quickly became one of the most popular Mouseketeers. The actress here in 1960 also appeared in several beach party movies. Funicello and Frankie Avalon here in 1962 co starred in several films together including Beach Party Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach. That same year Funicello and Paul Anka don buttons that read KHJ Radio 93 Salutes Elvis. Funicello dances with her first husband agent Jack Gilardi at their wedding reception in 1965. Funicello and Avalon appear in Beach Blanket Bingo shown at a drive in movie theater. Avalon and Funicello reunite for Dick Clark's Good Old Days Part II a 1978 TV special. Funicello is at the 1992 Disney Legends Awards at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank California. Funicello gives Mickey Mouse a kiss in 1993 after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Funicello and husband Glen Holt attend a gala in New York. Funicello chats with Avalon right and Fabian during an event in 1997. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Remembering Annette Funicello A look back at those we have lost in 2013. Annette Funicello one of the best known members of the original 1950s Mickey Mouse Club and a star of 1960s beach party movies died at age 70 on April 8. Pictured Funicello performs with Jimmie Dodd on The Mickey Mouse Club in1957. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a towering figure in postwar British and world politics and the only woman to become British prime minister died at the age of 87 on Monday April 8. Designer Lilly Pulitzer right died on April 7 at age 81 according to her company's Facebook page. The Palm Beach socialite was known for making sleeveless dresses from bright floral prints that became known as the Lilly design. Film critic Roger Ebert died on April 4 according to his employer the Chicago Sun Times. He was 70. Ebert had taken a leave of absence on April 2 after a hip fracture was revealed to be cancer. Jane Nebel Henson wife of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson and instrumental in the development of the world famous puppets died April 2 after a long battle with cancer. She was 78. Shain Gandee one of the stars of the MTV reality show Buckwild was found dead with two other people in Kanawha County West Virginia on April 1. He was 21. Music producer and innovator Phil Ramone right with Paul Shaffer left and Billy Joel at the Song Writers Hall of Fame Awards in New York in 2001. Ramone died March 30 at the age of 72. Writer/producer Don Payne one of the creative minds behind The Simpsons died March 26 at his home in Los Angeles after losing a battle with bone cancer reports say. He was 48. Gordon Stoker left who as part of the vocal group the Jordanaires sang backup on hits by Elvis Presley died March 27 at 88. Deke Richards center died March 24 at age 68. Richards was a producer and songwriter who was part of the team responsible for Motown hits such as I Want You Back and Maybe Tomorrow. He had been battling esophageal cancer. Legendary publisher promoter and weightlifter Joe Weider who created the Mr. Olympia contest and brought California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the United States died at age 93 on March 23. Playboy magazine's 1962 Playmate of the Year Christa Speck Krofft died March 22 of natural causes at the age of 70. Rena Golden who held top positions at CNN died at age 51 after battling lymphoma for two years on March 21. Harry Reems the porn star best known for playing Dr. Young in the 1972 adult film classic Deep Throat died March 19 according to a spokeswoman at a Salt Lake City hospital. Reems whose real name is Herbert Streicher was 65. Bobbie Smith who as a member of the Spinners sang lead on such hits as I'll Be Around and Could It Be I'm Falling in Love died on March 16 at age 76. Pictured clockwise from left Spinners band member Pervis Jackson Billy Henderson Jonathan Edwards Bobbie Smith and Henry Fambrough 1977. Sweden's Princess Lilian the Welsh born model who lived with her lover Prince Bertil for 30 years before they were married has died at the age of 97 the Swedish Royal Court said in a statement. Alvin Lee the speed fingered British guitarist who lit up Woodstock with a monumental 11 minute version of his song I'm Going Home died on March 6 according to his website. He was 68. Hugo Chavez the polarizing president of Venezuela who cast himself as a 21st century socialist and foe of the United States died March 5 said Vice President Nicolas Maduro. Bobby Rogers one of the original members of Motown staple The Miracles died on Sunday March 3 at 73. From left Bobby Rogers Ronald White Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore circa 1965. Actress Bonnie Franklin star of the TV show One Day at a Time died at the age of 69 on March 1 of complications from pancreatic cancer. Actor Dale Robertson who was popular for his western TV shows and movies died at age 89 on Thursday February 28. Richard Street former member of the Temptations died at age 70 on February 27. Street second from the left poses for a portrait with fellow members of the Temptations circa 1973. Van Cliburn the legendary pianist honored with a New York ticker tape parade for winning a major Moscow competition in 1958 died on February 27 after a battle with bone cancer his publicist said. He was 78. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop died on February 25. He was 96. Koop served as surgeon general from 1982 to 1989 under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Damon Harris former member of the Motown group the Temptations died at age 62 on February 18. Harris center on the stool poses for a portrait with fellow members of The Temptations circa 1974. Lou Myers a stage film and TV actor who memorably portrayed Mr. Gaines on the comedy A Different World died on February 19 at the age of 75. Los Angeles Laker owner Jerry Buss died February 18 at age 80. Buss who had owned the Lakers since 1979 was credited with procuring the likes of Earvin Magic Johnson James Worthy Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers won 10 NBA championships and 16 Western Conference titles under Buss' ownership. Country singer Mindy McCready was found dead on February 17 of a self inflicted gunshot wound authorities said. She was 37. During her career McCready landed 14 songs and six albums on the Billboard country charts. Ed Koch the brash former New York mayor died February 1 of congestive heart failure at 88 his spokesman said. Patty Andrews center the last surviving member of the Andrews Sisters died at her Northridge California home on January 30 her publicist Alan Eichler said. She was 94. Patty is seen in this 1948 photograph with her sisters Maxene left and Laverne. Baseball Hall of Famer and St. Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial died on January 19 according to his former team. He was 92. Baseball Hall of Fame manager Earl Sidney Weaver who led the Baltimore Orioles to four pennants and a World Series title with a pugnacity toward umpires died January 19 of an apparent heart attack at age 82 Major League Baseball said. Pauline Phillips better known to millions of newspaper readers as the original Dear Abby advice columnist has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. She died January 16 in Minneapolis Minnesota at age 94. Aaron Swartz the Internet activist who co wrote the initial specification for RSS committed suicide a relative told CNN on January 12. He was 26. Swartz also co founded Demand Progress a political action group that campaigns against Internet censorship. Claude Nobs the founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival died aged 76 following a skiing accident. Richard Ben Cramer the Pulitzer Prize winning writer whose 1992 book What It Takes remains one of the most detailed and passionate of all presidential campaign chronicles died January 7 according to his longtime agent. He was 62. Director and stuntman David R. Ellis died on January 7. He directed Snakes on a Plane. Tony Lip who played mob figures in the hit cable show The Sopranos and several critically acclaimed movies died January 4 a funeral home official said. Lip whose real name was Frank Vallelonga was 82. Character actor Ned Wertimer known to fans of The Jeffersons as the doorman Ralph Hart died on January 2. He was 89. Pop country singer Patti Page died on January 1 in Encinitas California. She was 85. Born Clara Ann Fowler Page was the best selling female artist of the 1950s and had 19 gold and 14 platinum singles. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 Photos People we lost in 2013
Funicello who had a background in dance quickly became one of the most popular Mouseketeers.
She was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family synonymous with the word Mouseketeer and a true Disney Legend Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said.
She remained with Disney after leaving the Mickey Mouse Club appearing in TV shows including Zorro (1957) The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca (1958) and starring in the Disney feature films The Shaggy Dog (1959) Babes in Toyland (1961) The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964) and The Monkey's Uncle (1965).
The most enduring images of Funicello though may be of her in a swimsuit her primary wardrobe when she co starred with teen idol Frankie Avalon in beach party movies in the early 1960s. These included Beach Party (1963) Muscle Beach Party (1964) Bikini Beach (1964) Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965).
Although she started out in a more modest version each movie revealed a bit more leading eventually to Funicello in a bikini.
The movies helped sell her music. Funicello had Top 40 hits including Tall Paul First Name Initial How Will I Know My Love and Pineapple Princess. Along with the singles she recorded several successful albums including Hawaiiannette (1960) Italiannette (1960) and Dance Annette (1961).
Funicello reunited with Avalon in 1987 to star in Back to the Beach in which the two former teen idols played as parents of a pair of troublesome teenagers. Avalon and Funicello followed the movie with a nostalgic concert tour in 1989 and 1990 singing their hits from the 1960s.
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 Iger said in a statement released Monday. 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 moved with her family from her birthplace of Utica New York to Los Angeles when she was 4.
Walt Disney saw her dancing the lead in Swan Lake at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank when she was 13. Disney asked her to audition for a new children's TV series he was developing called The Mickey Mouse Club. She was hired on the spot to become a Mouseketeer Disney's statement said.
She became the viewers' favorite soon after the show debuted in October 1955. Although only three original seasons were produced the show continued to be see in reruns for another four decades.
Doctors diagnosed Funicello with multiple sclerosis a degenerative neurological disease in 1987. She kept the illness a secret until 1992 the year she established The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases. The charity which is still active supports research into the cause treatment and cure of multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.
Funicello made few public appearances by the late 1990s as she became more debilitated by the disease. She lived under the care of her second husband Glen Holt a rancher she married in 1986.
She had three children Gina Jack Jr. and Jason from her first marriage to Jack Gilardi which ended in 1981.
It is so sad to lose a wonderful lady like Annette Funicello said comedian Don Rickles. I had so much fun working with her in those beach party pictures. She was a great trooper. My wife Barbara and I send our thoughts and prayers to her family.
Annette's sweet unassuming spirit her love of people and her capacity to exude kindness and good feelings to everyone she met was part of her beautiful charisma said Richard Sherman the Oscar winning composer who wrote many of her hits. Because the songs we wrote for her brought us to the attention of Walt Bob and I always referred to Annette as our 'lucky star.'
Paul Reubens who worked with Funicello and Avalon in a memorable appearance on Pee wee Herman's Christmas special in 1988 tweeted about her death I loved Annette Funicello from the 1st time I saw her on The Mickey Mouse Club. There wasn't a warmer lovelier person on the planet. RIP
People we lost in 2013 The lives they lived