zzz - Lorea Thomson
| Realtor
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Published in Jupiter

Beach Party 1963
Annette Funicello, who won America’s heart as a 12 year old in Mickey Mouse ears in the original Mickey Mouse Club and star of numerous “beach party” films in the 1960’s,  has died.   Funicello, who was 70, passed away “peacefully from complications due to multiple sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years” according to a Disney statement.

Walt Disney personally discovered Annette, while she was dancing lead in a production of “Swan Lake” in Burbank, CA and she was the last of the 24 cast members chosen for “The Mickey Mouse Club”.  Funicello quickly became one of the most popular Mouseketeers and in 1992, she was inducted as a Disney Legend.

Beach Party 1963The most enduring images of Funicello may be of her in a swimsuit in the slightly spicy beach party movies of the 1960’s.  The swimsuit was her basic garb when she co-starred with teen idol Frankie Avalon.  These movies included “Beach Party” (1963), “Muscle Beach Party” (1964), “Bikini Beach” (1964), “Beach Blanket Bingo” (1965), and “How To Stuff a Wild Bikini” (1965).

Interestingly, when Funicello moved on from Disney to become a teen idol, Mr. Disney requested that she only wear modest bathing suits and keep her navel covered.  She wore a pink two-piece in “Beach Party” that covered her navel, a two-piece fishnet in the second (“Muscle Beach Party”), each movie revealed a bit more, leading eventually to a bikini.  Imagine what Mr. Disney would say if he saw some of the bikinis on the beaches from Jupiter to Singer Island!

In 1992, Funicello announced that she was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and subsequently opened the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders.  To assist in fundraising to fight neurological disorders, the actress founded the Annette Funicello Teddy Bear Company, which markets a line of collectable bears.  She is survived by her husband, Glen Holt, and three children.

Photo Credit: American International Pictures

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