This past Monday, Annette Funicello (October 22, 1942 – April 15, 2013) lost her battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Annette, who was the most popular Mouseketeer on the original Mickey Mouse Club, was discovered by Walt Disney, himself, when she was 13.
Annette Joanne Funicello was born on October 22, 1942 in Utica NY. Her family moved to Los Angeles, CA when she was 4. She started dance lessons when she was 5 and won a beauty contest at age 9. She was discovered by Cast after Disney in a dance recital in 1955. They were excited because amongst the 23 young performers, Annette was getting the most fan mail at 8,000 plus letters a monthly. This is where it all began for Annette and Disney until the day she passed, this past Monday.
The Original Mickey Mouse Club ran from 1955 – 1959 where Annette was the most popular member. It was listed under the Kiddie Club contract for Disney. She was the only one kept on the bill to remain under contract, from Walt Disney himself, after the original Mouse Club was closed. Annette always thought of Walt as her second father, no matter what the critics said of him.
When Annette matured from the kid roles, she went on in the 1960’s to do beach movies with Frank Avalon that were for the new teen market, That was killed when the Beatles stepped onto the scene in 1964, but Annette and Frankie were never forgotten. In 1987, they did released a movie called “Muscle Beach Party”.
In 1965, Annette married her agent, Jack Gilardi. Together they had three kids, Gina, Jack Jr.and Jason. In 1981, they got divorced. In 1986, Annette married her second husband, Glen Holt, who is an harness racehorse trainer. She took her kids to do some of the peanut butter commercials that she was doing. Other than that, she spent most of the years raising her kids.
During 1987 was when Annette’s more prevalent symptoms were showing up with her MS. That’s when she was diagnosed with it. She was scared at first, She went through all the books that she could get, on MS. Then she started dealing with it. Being Christian, she prayed and thought as long that God had given her the strength to continue walking that she thought that she was going to find a way to heal from the disease.
In 1992, she thought that she better come out to the public about MS in case she wanted to do anymore movies, so that we wouldn’t think that she became a drunk. So she made an announcement to the public about having MS and most people were stunned.
Annette wrote all about her trials and struggles with MS, in her autobiography, “A Dream is a Wish That Your Heart Makes” that was released in 1994. She got the title from a Disney song.
Annette, in her later years, lost the use of her legs and had to resort to the wheelchair and the scooter to get around. Up until a couple of years ago, she was taking trips to Disney. Her family and The Disney release team were at her bedside, in Bakersfield Hospital in CA, on Monday when she left the world for eternal life and happiness. It was Disney who made the announcement and said that she was 70.
With all this said, Annette lost the battle with MS, but not the war. None of us are immune from contracting Multiple Sclerosis. That’s why it’s important to keep our bodies healthy as they can be. Annette and many others, who passed from this disease that is a killer of the human race, left their families and us to fight the war against MS. To take part, click on the list of links for MS.
Videos: USA Today Annette Funicello Dies
If you like this, please vote and comment.