Annette Funicello


Actor
Annette Funicello

About

Also Known As
Annette Joanne Funicello
Birth Place
Utica, New York, USA
Born
October 22, 1942

Biography

Before Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, there was Annette Funicello, the original Mouseketeer. When she burst out on the scene as the bubbly girl-next-door on "The Mickey Mouse Club" (ABC, 1955-59), America quickly fell in love with Funicello, making her one of the most recognized faces on television at that time. She was such a huge success on the show that by t...

Photos & Videos

Beach Blanket Bingo - Movie Poster
Head - Movie Poster
Bikini Beach - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Jack Gilardi
Husband
Manager. Married in 1965; divorced in 1981.
Glen Holt
Husband
Racehorse breeder. Born in 1930; married in 1986.

Bibliography

"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"
Annette Funicello with Patricia Romanowski (1994)

Notes

Funicello collects teddy bears and created The Annette Funicello Teddy Bear Company to market a line of designer bears

She also has her own fragrance "Cello, by Annette". Proceeds from the sale of the perfume go to her foundation

Biography

Before Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, there was Annette Funicello, the original Mouseketeer. When she burst out on the scene as the bubbly girl-next-door on "The Mickey Mouse Club" (ABC, 1955-59), America quickly fell in love with Funicello, making her one of the most recognized faces on television at that time. She was such a huge success on the show that by the end of the first season, the actress was receiving about 6,000 fan letters a week, a feat that astounded even Walt Disney himself. She re-emerged in the 1960s as a teen icon, starring in several "beach party" movies like "Beach Blanket Bingo" (1965) opposite fellow idol Frankie Avalon, and would later inspire longtime fans with her courageous battle against the debilitating disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), which led to her death in April 2013. However, it was her warm, all-American persona as a Mouseketeer - her name famously embossed across her Disney sweater - that would be the Annette Funicello fans remembered best.

Annette Joanne Funicello was born on Oct. 22, 1942 in Utica, NY. Her parents, Joseph and Virginia Funicello, signed up their shy little girl - nicknamed "Dolly" by her father - for dance and music lessons to help overcome her bashfulness. When she was four, the Funicello family moved to Southern California, where the future "beach bunny" would make a name for herself. In 1955, Funicello performed the lead role in "Swan Lake" at a dance recital at the Burbank Starlight Bowl. In the audience was Walt Disney, who was searching for talented kids to appear on his new television show, "The Mickey Mouse Club." He was so impressed by her performance that he immediately cast her as the 24th Mouseketeer. In addition to performing sketches and dance routines, she starred in a number of the show's serials including 1956's "Adventure in Disneyland." In "Walt Disney Presents: Annette" (1958), Funicello's self-titled serial, she sang "How Will I Know My Love," the song that eventually launched her singing career. Due to the overwhelming response from her fans, Disney decided to release the song as a single and gave Funicello a recording contract.

Funicello remained under contract with Disney even after "The Mickey Mouse Club" ended in 1959. She appeared on the TV shows "Zorro" (ABC, 1957-59), "Make Room for Daddy" (ABC, 1953-57; CBS, 1957-1964), "Burke's Law" (ABC, 1963-66) and several others. In "Zorro," Funicello played Anita Cabrillo, a teenager who arrived in Los Angeles to visit a father who does not seem to exist at all. Rumors swirled that the role was a birthday present from Disney since the actress was such a huge fan of the show. She also co-starred in more Disney family movies, including "The Shaggy Dog" (1959), "Babes in Toyland" (1961), "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones" (1964) and "The Monkey's Uncle" (1965), among others.

In the early 1960s, after her Disney contract expired, Funicello tested the waters as a teen star. She starred opposite actor and singer teen heartthrob Frankie Avalon in summer romance films, which included "Beach Party" (1963), "Muscle Beach Party" (1964), "Bikini Beach" (1964), and the best known, "Beach Blanket Bingo" (1965). The duo appeared in so many of these sun-'n'-fun movies that the two eventually became the poster couple for carefree summers spent on the ocean. When she was cast in her first movie, insiders said that Disney himself asked the young movie star to avoid wearing any attire that was too skimpy in an effort to maintain her "innocent Disney image." Funicello reportedly did not fully comply with the request; in her second beach movie, the young actress wore a two-piece fishnet suit and in the third, she wore a blue and white bikini that exposed her navel.

Despite her hectic schedule, Funicello found time for romance; even inspiring the 1960 song "Puppy Love" written by Paul Anka, whom she was briefly involved with. Due to her ability to sell a song, Funicello's recording career took off in the late 1950s and early 1960s, despite her reluctance at being considered a singer. Funicello recorded a total of 15 hit albums for Disney that contained pop songs such as "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," "O Dio Mio," "Train of Love" and "Pineapple Princess." All songs made it to the Billboard Top 100. In 1994, Disney released a double-CD retrospective called Annette: A Musical Reunion with America's Girl Next Door.

Life onscreen seemed a fairytale for the wholesome actress, until the late 1980s when she first began noticing symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as multiple sclerosis, an often-fatal neurological disorder which eventually renders one paralyzed in both speech and movement. She was in the middle of production of "Back to the Beach," a 1987 spoof of her earlier sand-and-surf films that reunited her with her co-star Avalon, when she began noticing muscular problems. She kept her condition a secret for many years, and in spite of her increasingly obvious symptoms, went on a yearlong concert tour with Avalon.

To combat rumors that her weakening state was due to alcohol abuse, the former Mouseketeer decided to go public with her illness in 1992; the same year she was inducted as a Disney Legend. She said of her decision, "When the stories about my MS came out, everyone gave me their love and their prayers. I'm human, and sometimes I can't help but ask, 'Why me?' But I believe everything happens for a reason, and I know now that my mission is to help others raise funds for MS. The more I read about MS, the more encouraged I am. When I wake up in the morning, I like to imagine, this is the day I'm going to hear about an MS cure on the news." In 1993, she created the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation.

After her announcement, Funicello stayed mostly out of the limelight, but continued to make news as a spokesperson for MS. As an ambassador for the Society's "Walk for MS" event in 2002, she formed "Annie's Angels," teams who raised awareness of the challenges of the disease. Her 1994 autobiography, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story, was turned into a made-for-TV-movie, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story" (1995). In the movie's final scene, actress Eva La Rue as Funicello was seen riding in a wheelchair with her back turned away from the camera. She faced a group of children, delivering a message of hope. In the mid-1990s, she also produced her own line of teddy bears for the Annette Funicello Collectible Bear Company. The last collection was made in 2004 when it was rumored Funicello was getting too ill for her beloved activism. After years of bravely fighting against MS, Funicello died on April 8, 2013, leaving behind an impressive legacy of sunny optimism both on and off the screen.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995)
Narrator
A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995)
Herself
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Herself
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Self
Back To The Beach (1987)
Head (1968)
Minnie
Thunder Alley (1967)
Francie Madsen
Fireball 500 (1966)
Jane Harris
Ski Party (1965)
Uncredited appearance
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
Dee Dee
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)
Dee Dee
Bikini Beach (1964)
Dee Dee
Pajama Party (1964)
Connie
The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)
Jennifer
Muscle Beach Party (1964)
Dee Dee
Beach Party (1963)
Dolores
The Shaggy Dog (1959)
Allison D'Allessio

Writer (Feature Film)

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995)
Book As Source Material

Producer (Feature Film)

Back To The Beach (1987)
Co-Executive Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995)
Other
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Other

Cast (Special)

People's 20th Birthday (1994)
More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace (1993)
The Best of Disney: 50 Years of Magic (1991)
The Lost Youth of Hollywood (1991)
Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
Disneyland's 30th Anniversary Celebration (1985)
Men Who Rate a "10" (1980)
The Mouseketeers Reunion (1980)
Disneyland's 25th Anniversary (1980)
The Arthur Godfrey Special (1979)
Frankie and Annette: The Second Time Around (1978)
Dee Dee
Dick Clark's Good Ol' Days: From Bobby Sox to Bikinis (1977)
Host

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Lots of Luck (1985)

Life Events

1955

Original cast member of the the Mickey Mouse Club

1957

Feature acting debut, "Johnny Tremain"

1957

Played exchange student Gina, "The Danny Thomas Show"

1958

Star of own shortlived series, "Annette"

1959

Played role of Gina Minelli, an Italian exchange student rooming with protagonist Danny Williams's family, for a season of the long-running sitcom, "Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show"

1963

First pairing with Frankie Avalon, "Beach Party"

1987

In first feature following 19 year break she is reunited with Avalon in sleeper hit, "Back to the Beach"

1989

Last feature appearance, "Troop Beverly Hills"

1992

Publicly admitted having multiple sclerosis since 1987

1993

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

1994

Co-wrote autobiography, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"

1995

Made cameo appearance in the TV movie adaptation of her autobiography

Photo Collections

Beach Blanket Bingo - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Beach Blanket Bingo (1965). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Head - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Head (1968), starring The Monkees. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Bikini Beach - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Bikini Beach (1964). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Beach Party - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Beach Party (1963). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Shaggy Dog - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for Disney's The Shaggy Dog (1959). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.

Videos

Movie Clip

Bikini Beach (1964) - Gimmie Your Love Testing video for ticket 1394 with clip Gimmie Your Love from Bikini Beach, 1964.
Muscle Beach Party (1963) - Surfer's Holiday Arriving at the beach, Frankie (Avalon) and Annette Funicello (as Dee Dee) lead the gang in a song by Roger Christian, Gary Usher and Beach Boy Brian Wilson, Dick Dale’s Del-Tones featured, opening the second American International Pictures “Beach Party” feature, Muscle Beach Party, 1963.
Muscle Beach Party (1963) - I Would Keep That Quiet Italian zillionaire-ess Julie (Luciana Paluzzi) choppers in from her yacht, Buddy Hackett her assistant, hunting the hunkiest body builder (Peter Lupus, here billed as Rock Stevens) at Don Rickles’ gym, Frankie (Avalon) and Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) observing, in the second “Beach Party” feature, Muscle Beach Party, 1963.
Muscle Beach Party (1963) - Little Stevie Wonder The gang, featuring Annette Funicello as Dee Dee, catch “Little” Stevie Wonder, backed by Dick Dale’s band, for “Happy Street,” by Beach Party series songwriters Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner, Frankie (Avalon) joining to apologize for his latest misadventure, in Muscle Beach Party, 1963.
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) - Jaws Of The Deep Frankie (Avalon) and the gang have rescued singer Sugar (Linda Evans), who’s replaced the stunt double who parachuted into the surf, her PR man (Paul Lynde) hustling for columnist Earl Wilson, biker villain Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) spying, and girlfriend Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) steamed, in Beach Blanket Bingo, 1965.
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) - Title Song A couple minutes into the picture, after comical character introductions, Frankie (Avalon) and Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) tumble to the title song, from series songwriters Jerry Styner and Guy Hemric, with Buster Keaton’s cameo at the end, in the 4th “Beach Party” movie, Beach Blanket Bingo, 1965.
Babes In Toyland (1961) - We Are Gathered Here The Toymaker (Ed Wynn) is stalling as he marries villain Barnaby (Ray Bolger) and innocent Mary (Annette Funicello), to give shrunken Tom (Tommy Sands) time to rally the toy soldiers, Bill Justice’s special effects sequence the most famous piece of Disney’s Babes In Toyland, 1961.
Babes In Toyland (1961) - Does This Satisfy Your Greed? We meet Ray Bolger in his wild turn as villain Barnaby, observing the innocent Mary and Tom (Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands), with henchmen (Henry Calvin, Gene Sheldon), some technical dazzle, and the top of another song by George Bruns and Mel Leven, in Disney’s Babes In Toyland , 1961.
Beach Party - Swingin' and 'A-Surfin' Dueling scene-stealers as Dick Dale leads the band in "Swingin' and 'A-Surfin'" until Frankie (Frankie Avalon) and pals are distracted by waitress Ava (Eva Six) in Beach Party, 1963.
Beach Party - Professor Sutwell Love that (bearded!) Bob Cummings (as "Professor Sutwell), observing teens at play, visited by his fellow grown-up academic Marianne (Dorothy Malone) in an early scene from Beach Party, 1963.
Beach Party - Open, Frankie & Annette Long stretch of So-Cal coast from the opening of Beach Party, 1963, leading into Frankie (Frankie Avalon) and Dolores (Annette Funicello) in a convertible singing "Beach Party" by Gary Usher and Roger Christian.

Trailer

Family

Joseph Funicello
Father
Virginia Funicello
Mother
Gina Gilardi
Daughter
Marketing executive. Born c. 1966; married to businessman Jack Portman.
Jack Gilardi
Son
Born c. 1970.
Jason Gilardi
Son
Born on October 21, 1974.

Companions

Jack Gilardi
Husband
Manager. Married in 1965; divorced in 1981.
Glen Holt
Husband
Racehorse breeder. Born in 1930; married in 1986.

Bibliography

"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"
Annette Funicello with Patricia Romanowski (1994)

Notes

Funicello collects teddy bears and created The Annette Funicello Teddy Bear Company to market a line of designer bears

She also has her own fragrance "Cello, by Annette". Proceeds from the sale of the perfume go to her foundation