Annette Funicello Gone Aged 70: Now it’s Time to Say Goodbye

Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 - died April 8, 2013) RIP
Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 – died April 8, 2013) RIP

When I was five years old, we lived in Sacramento California and I used to watch the reruns of the original Mickey Mouse club. In black and white. One of my favourite “Mouseketeers” was Annette Funicello. This dark-haired song bird stole my five-year old heart.

Of course by the time I saw the old Mickey Mouse show, Annette was already getting ready to make those “beach” movies with heart-throb Frankie Avalon.

But television is a sort of time machine and when I watched first the Mickey Mouse Show and later the Wonderful World of Disney, Annette would be the same age, even though years had passed. She exuded, through the magic of television, an ageless “girl-next-door” glow that made her special to an entire generation of Mouseketeer fans.

These same fans would go on to love her even more as the love interest in a swimming suit. But however you were introduced to Annette, it was her voice and they way she sang that impressed and made you fall in love with her all over again.

Bio’s will tell you that she was the last Mouseketeer chosen and that she was the most popular. But what they can’t tell you is the special magic that this young girl and then woman had. A magic that kept her in people’s hearts long after the Mouse Club and the Beach Party films ended.

She was a champion who fought for everyone who had Multiple Sclerosis, which she had been diagnosed with the disease in 1987 and after a five-year silence went public with the news. Her fans never stopped loving her and supporting her and she passed that love and support to others who suffered from the disease.

It was complications from this disease  that took her life aged 70.

It is with a lump in my throat and prayer for her family and friends that I write this short love letter to the Mouseketeer of my youth.

So long Annette. Like the song says, you made me love you; but with a pure childlike love that never grew up.

I’ll finish this by including a video from YouTube that, quite appropriately, features Annette and her fellow Mouseketeers singing the “Goodbye” sign-off song from the show.