Born Annette Joanne Funicello on October 22, 1942, in Utica, NY. Died on April 8, 2013, Bakersfield, California
Annette Funicello became famous as the last person chosen to join the original Disney Mouseketeers on the Mickey Mouse Club TV show in 1955. She appeared in many Disney productions and publications as one of the most popular faces of the Walt Disney company. She also performed on many TV shows, various feature films, and toured as a singer.
Funicello segued into "beach" movies in the 1960s while still under contract to Walt Disney, who made the condition of making sure her navel was covered with one-piece swimsuits while appearing in the American International movie Beach Party in 1963. As part of the burgeoning 'surfing craze' the film was very successful and was quickly followed by Muscle Beach Party, 1964, Bikini Beach, 1964, Beach Blanket Bingo, 1965, and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, 1965.
She soon married and though she appeared in a few other films, and was spokesperson for Skippy Peanut Butter, she had relegated her career to a low priority in lieu of family. (She reteamed with Avalon in 1987 for an update to their earlier films, a feature film from Paramount titled Back to the Beach.)
She suffered from multiple sclerosis for the last 25 years of her life, undergoing multiple operations. She also was a spokesperson for spreading information about the ailment and set up a foundation for pursuing a cure.
Original Page March 2014 | Updated Dec 2017
From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.
Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association