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ANNETTE FUNICELLO i 1f'412-2('13

fur ageneration
AI l-American gi
Mouseketeer'Annette g":HI^itrS,
charmed in 1955.

Annette Funicello, who grew

from a beloved Disney child

star to the queen ofteen "beach

party" movies, died yesterday

at Mercy Southwest Hospital
in Bakersfield, Calif. She was


Funicello, who announced in
1992 she had been diagrrosed
with multiple sclerosis five years
earlier, died of complications
from that degenerative disease.
Bob Iger, chairman and chief
executive of The Walt Disney
Co., said in a statement, "She
will forever hold a place in our
hearts as one of Walt Disney's
brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby
boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being
as beautiful inside as she was
on the outside, and she faced
her physical challenges with
dignity, bravery and grace."

As the most popular of the

young Mouseketeers on ABC's

1955-59 children's variety show
"The Mickey Mouse Club," she
helped entertain a generation
glued to their black-and-white
TV sets every weekday after

school. Blossoming into a

young woman, she enticed

Funicello and 1963 "Beach Party" co-star Frankie Avalon

she was 21.


many of that same generation

to a raft of beach-party movies,
beginning with the aptly titled
"Beach Party" in 1963, when

See more photCIs of Funicello. newcday"cotil/celebrities

"She never knew how famous

she was," her frequent co-star
Frankie Avalon told Newsday in
2007, "because she wasn't out
there in the middle of everything

Funicello after getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, '93

was busy being married
having babies. |ust a wonder-

wonderfirl person."
Born Oct. 22,L942, in uPstate
Utica, she moved with her family to Los Angeles'San Fernando
Valley at age 4. Discovered at 13
while dancing the lead in "Swan
Lake" at the Starlight Bowl in

Burbanh she was invitedto audi-

tion for the upcoming "Mickey

Mouse Club" series.

Afterward, she became the

only Mouseketeer to remain

under contract to Disney, and
starred in such studio features as

"The Shaggy Dog"

"Babes in Toyland"

(1961), "The

Misadventures of Merlin fones"

<19(A), and "The MonkeY's
Uncle" (1965). She and Avalon
starred in American International Pictures' low-budget, high-en-

suclr as "Gidget" had appeared

as early as 1959, AIP's distinctive,
slightly surreal Iilms turned the
form into a musical-comedy subgenre, one Funicello and Avalon
themselves good-naturedly paro-

died in Paramount's 1987 "Back

to the Beach."
A recording star as well, Funicello released a string oftop-40

singles, including "Tall Paul"

and "How Will I Know MY
Love" (both 1959) and "PineaPple Princess" (1960).

She married her agent, ]ack

Gilardi, in

1965, and

the cou-

ple had children Gina, |ack

and Jason before divorcing

after 18 years. Largely leaving

the film industry following an

in The Monkees'
tfippy movie "Head" (1968),
Funicello wenl on to pitch

in TV

ergy teen beach movies with

Skippy peanut butter

"How to Stuff a Wild Bikini"

(both 1965). 'While precursors

lished her autobiography, "A

Dream Is a Wish Your Heart
Makes: My Story," in 1994.

"Beach Party," quickly followed

by "Muscle Beach Party" (19&),
"Bikini Beach" 0964), and
"Beach Blanket Bingo" and

commercials in1979. She married harness racehorse trainer

Glen Holt in 1986 and pub-