Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Women We Love: Annette Funicello

Object of our affection: Annette Funicello, actress and singer.

- At age 12, she was discovered by none other than Walt Disney himself and cast as one of the original Mousketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. She would soon become the show's breakout star, receiving 6,000 fan letters a month. In addition to her mouse-eared appearances on the program, she also starred in several serials, including Spin & Marty and her own, titled simply Annette (a collection of all 19 episodes of which will be released as part of the Walt Disney TreasuresDVD line on November 11).

- Following MMC, she remained under contract with Disney and starred in the movies The Shaggy Dog (her film debut), Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Monkey's Uncle, as well as television guest spots on Zorro and Elfego Baca, among others. She also had a (reluctant) singing career via the studio, producing such hit songs as "Tall Paul", "Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy" (?!) and "Pineapple Princess". Due to her many contributions to the studio, she was named a Disney Legend in 1992.

- Moving on from Disney, she became a certified teen idol in a popular string of "beach movies" opposite Frankie Avalon. The pair co-starred in six of them during the 1960's -- Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini -- and would later re-team many a time on television as well as for a reunion movie in 1987, Back to the Beach.

- In the 1970's, she was a frequent presence on television thanks to her many commercial appearances as the spokesperson for Skippy peanut butter.

- She announced that she suffers from multiple sclerosis in 1992 and published her biography, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story,two years later. It was made into a TV movie, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, starring Eva La Rue.

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