Mouseketeers are in mourning over the passing of Annette Funicello.
Annette Funicello, who won America’s heart as a 12-year-old in Mickey Mouse ears, captivated adolescent baby boomers in slightly spicy beach movies and later championed people with multiple sclerosis, a disease from which she suffered, died on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. She was 70.
As an adult Ms. Funicello described herself as “the queen of teen,” and millions around her age agreed. Young males enjoyed watching her blossom into womanhood, while females liked her because she was sweet, forthright and plain nice. Parents saw her as the perfect daughter.
She was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers chosen for “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the immensely popular children’s television show that began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets. Walt Disney personally discovered her at a ballet performance.
Before long, she was getting more than 6,000 fan letters a week, and was known by just her first name in a manner that later defined celebrities like Cher, Madonna and Prince.
I liked her even before I figured out that I was more interested in the boys in the beach movies than I was in the girls. And yes, I’m old enough to remember the Mickey Mouse Club before it was in re-runs.
I hold her and her family in the Light.