Annette Funicello Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (26)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Utica, New York, USA
Died in Bakersfield, California, USA  (complications from multiple sclerosis)
Birth NameAnnette Joanne Funicello
Nickname Annie

Mini Bio (1)

Annette Joanne Funicello achieved teenage popularity starting in October 1955 after she debuted as a Mouseketeer. Born on October 22, 1942 in Utica, New York, the family had moved to California when she was still young. Walt Disney himself saw her performing the lead role in "Swan Lake" at her ballet school's year-end recital in Burbank and decided to have her audition along with two hundred other children. Annette became the last Mouseketeer of the twenty-four that was picked. By the run-through in 1958 of The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) in which she appeared in her own multi-segmented series entitled "Annette", she had become the most popular Mousketeer of them all and the only one kept under contract by Walt Disney after he canceled the show. Her popularity was such that by the late 1950s, she was simply known as "Annette" -- America's sweetheart and the first "crush" for many a teenage baby boomer. Whenever anyone spoke of Annette, no last name was ever needed as everyone knew who you were talking about.

The popular teenager became synonymous with wholesome entertainment and was borrowed by Danny Thomas in 1959 to play Gina, a foreign exchange student, on The Danny Thomas Show (1953) (aka "The Danny Thomas Show") and also that same year had a recurring role on the Disney television series Zorro (1957). She made her well as other Disney film vehicles for several years, including The Shaggy Dog (1959), Babes in Toyland (1961) and The Monkey's Uncle (1965). During this time, the modest young singer had a couple of hit singles on the "Hot 100" charts, notably, "Tall Paul", and as a result, traveled with Dick Clark's caravan on singing tours around the country. At one point, she and teen idol Paul Anka became an item and he wrote both "Puppy Love" and "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" with her in mind. Their busy careers led to them parting ways.

During the early 1960s, American International Films wanted to use her in a fun-on-the-beach movie. They presented the idea to "Mr. Disney", as Annette always called him and with whom she was still under contract. To everyone's surprise, he gave his consent, with the only condition being that she make sure her navel was completely covered by a one piece bathing suit. The first movie, aptly titled Beach Party (1963) starred Robert Cummings and Dorothy Malone as the older generation who explore the younger set represented by Annette (as "Dee Dee") and her love interest Frankie Avalon (as "Frankie"). The "teenage" couple (actually she was 20 and he 23) proved so popular in this that they were whisked into a number of sand-and-surf romps (Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)) that showcased the actors engaging in harmless fun while singing and dancing in the sand, and falling into silly slapstick.

After the surfing craze died out in 1965, Annette married Jack Gilardi, Paul Anka's agent, and became the mother of his three children -- Gina, Jack Jr. and Jason. While appearing in a few other movies that did nothing to further her career, including Fireball 500 (1966), Thunder Alley (1967) and Head (1968), she appeared as a guest on shows and, most famously, became the spokesperson for Skippy Peanut Butter in a host of commercials. But she phased out her career in favor of family.

She and Gilardi divorced in 1983. Three years later, she married Glen Holt, a harness racing horse breeder/trainer. Within a year into her second marriage, Annette was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She hid her condition for five years before making a formal announcement (in 1992) for fear that her uncontrollable movements might be characterized as drunkenness. She became the most famous spokesperson for the disease. Annette's life was filmed as a television movie with A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995) co-starring her good friend, Shelley Fabares. Receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993, Annette was eventually wheelchair-ridden and went into complete seclusion.

Following a tragic March 2011 incident in which their Los Angeles house burnt to the ground and both Annette and husband Glen were hospitalized with smoke inhalation, the couple moved to Bakersfield, California. A little more than a year later, and over 25 years after she was diagnosed with this long and painful illness, Annette passed away on April 8, 2013 from complications at age 70. To the present, her foundation continues to raise money to help find cures for this and other debilitating disorders, including Lou Gehrig's disease.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Hafker thehuntzie@yahoo.com

Spouse (2)

Glen Holt (3 May 1986 - 8 April 2013) (her death)
Jack Gilardi (9 January 1965 - 21 March 1983) (divorced) (3 children)

Trade Mark (3)

Disney movies and Beach Party movies
Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer
Her sweet smile.

Trivia (26)

Underwent brain surgery to slow down the tremors which result from her multiple sclerosis. She was recovering at home. [November 1999]
In 1987, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She kept her condition a secret and felt that this was necessary to go public in order to combat rumors that her impaired ability to walk was the result of alcoholism.
Her son, Jason Gilardi, is the drummer for the rock band Caroline's Spine, which was once signed to the Disney-owned label Hollywood Records. He also appears as himself in her biopic, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995).
Had appeared with Frankie Avalon in eleven films: Beach Party (1963), Bikini Beach (1964), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Pajama Party (1964), Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), Fireball 500 (1966), Thunder Alley (1967), Back to the Beach (1987) and Troop Beverly Hills (1989).
When she made the various beach pictures for American International Pictures (AIP), she was still technically under contract to Disney, doing the AIP films on a loan-out basis, something of which Walt Disney always emphatically reminded her.
Her favorite television series was Zorro (1957). For her birthday one year, Walt Disney (who knew she was a huge fan of the series) arranged to have her guest star on one episode.
When she was cast in her first beach movie, Walt Disney asked her to not wear a bikini and instead wear a one-piece swimsuit because she had an image to uphold. She agreed.
In 1977, Annette played the Blue Fairy in Disneyland's "Main Street Electrical Parade".
Paul Anka wrote the song "Puppy Love" about his romance with her.
When she began working for the Disney studio, she suggested to her employer that she change her Italian family name of Funicello to something more "American", as was often done in those days. Walt Disney vehemently argued against this idea, saying that her own name was actually an asset because it was so unique that no one who heard it would ever be able to forget it. He convinced the young actress to retain it.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on September 14, 1993.
Her biggest hit single was "Tall Paul" (#7 US Pop 1959). She had later success with "Pineapple Princess" which peaked at #11 US Pop, in the summer of 1960.
She spent her final years mostly confined to a wheelchair that was specially designed by her horse-trainer husband with a seat from a harness-racing sulky.
Her home suffered major fire damage and wheelchair-bound Annette and her husband were hospitalized and treated for smoke inhalation. [March 2011]
Annette still resided in her first house several miles from where she grew up. She had a collectable bear business, a line of perfume and she started the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders (2006).
Died four days after film critic Roger Ebert. Both were unable to eat, drink and talk for their last years. They were also born in 1942 and died aged 70.
She was 17 years old at the time the Sweetheart of the Valley Mayors honor was given to her. It came about when "Television's Singing Troubadour, Jimmie Jackson" arranged for her to be given the designation of the "Sweetheart of the San Fernando Valley Mayors" at the May 2, 1957, grand opening of his new Tambour restaurant (tambour is African for "Drum") in Tarzana. Jackson was a longtime friend of Annette's parents Joe and Virginia, and wanted to do something special for their daughter in connection with his restaurant's opening. Jackson called together some of his old friends and former guests from his Hollywood television show, "Memory Lane" who were now "Honorary" mayors of various small towns in the San Fernando Valley. Covering the event was the "Valley News and Green Sheet"--now "The Valley News"--and the Los Angeles Times. Annette was escorted by film and television performer, J.P. Sloane. Annette would also appear with Jackson and Sloane five years later in a television special titled, An Evening at the Inn (1962).
When asked in a 20/20 interview how she got the role as a mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club program, she replied: "I was the ethnic one. Everybody else looked like I wanted to look my entire life: blue eyed and freckle faced.".
Following her death, she was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in Los Angeles, California.
Her funeral was conducted in a private ceremony at Cherished Memories Memorial Chapel in Bakersfield, California.
Had two brothers: Michael Funicello and Joey Funicello.
Mother-in-law of John Portman.
Died on the same day as Margaret Thatcher.
She was the oldest girl to be cast as a Mousketeer on the "Mickey Mouse Club" (1955). During the run of the show, she had begun to "develop," which was famously noticeable in her Mousketeer sweater. It has been claimed that she was the first crush for many boys of the baby boomer generation.

Personal Quotes (1)

The Disney studio wasn't like other studios. It was just like home - it always had a small-town, family atmosphere.

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