Annette Funicello, Mouseketeer and Beach Party Sweetheart, Dead at Age 70

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To Disney fans Annette Funicello represents a time when the company was at its most pure. As a 12-year old she was discovered by Walt Disney and cast as one of the original Mouseketeers. She earned her way into the collective hearts of America every day as part of the Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she had a successful recording career and enjoyed many film and tv roles. She was one of America’s real sweethearts.

Annette has dealt with complications related to Multiple Sclerosis for decades. My only opportunity to meet her came during the Farewell Season of the Main Street Electrical Parade. She was already in a wheelchair by then and was bundled up against the cold, but she still positively glowed when she smiled.

I was in the section next to her and watched her throughout the parade. Cast members had obviously been told she was in the audience that night. As they each came by and paid tribute to her, she smiled or waved back at them all.