Annette Joanne Funicello (October 22, 1942 – April 8, 2013) was an Italian-American actress and singer. Annette Funicello began her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve.
She rose to prominence as one of the most popular Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she transitioned to a successful career as a singer with the pop singles “O Dio Mio”, “Tall Paul” and “Pineapple Princess“, as well as establishing herself as a film actress, popularizing the successful “Beach Party” genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s.
In 1992, Funicello announced that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died of complications from the disease on April 8, 2013.
Annette took dancing and music lessons as a child to overcome shyness. In 1955, the 12-year-old was discovered by Walt Disney when she performed as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at a dance recital at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. Disney cast her as one of the original Mouseketeers. She was the last to be selected, and one of the few cast-members to be personally selected by Walt Disney himself.
She proved to be very popular and by the end of the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club, she was receiving 6,000 letters a month, according to her Disney Legends biography.
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