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 Mous...
Utica, New York, USA
|A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story||Actor||n/a||7|
|Lots of Luck||Actor||n/a||7|
|How to Stuff a Wild Bikini||1964||Actor||Dee Dee||19647|
|Frankie and Annette: The Second Time Around||1978 1977 - 1978||Actor||Dee Dee||19787|
|The Mouse Factory||1972 1971 - 1972||Actor||Guest host||19727|
|Dick Clark's Good Ol' Days: From Bobby Sox to Bikinis||1977 1976 - 1977||Actor||Host||19777|
|Thunder Alley||1967||Actor||Francie Madsen||19677|
|Muscle Beach Party||1962||Actor||Dee Dee||19627|
|The Monkey's Uncle||1964||Actor||Jennifer||19647|
|The Mouseketeers Reunion||1980 1979 - 1980||Actor||n/a||19807|
|Disneyland's 25th Anniversary||1979 1978 - 1979||Actor||n/a||19797|
|A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story||Actor||Herself||7|
|Lots of Luck||Actor||Julie Maris||7|
|The Misadventures of Merlin Jones||1963||Actor||Jennifer||19637|
|Easy Does It... Starring Frankie Avalon||1975 1974 - 1975||Actor||n/a||19757|
|Beach Blanket Bingo||1965||Actor||Dee Dee||19657|
|Bikini Beach||1964||Actor||Dee Dee||19647|
|Disneyland's 30th Anniversary Celebration||1984 1983 - 1984||Actor||n/a||19847|
|The Mickey Mouse Club||1958 1954 - 1958||Actor||Mouseketeer||19587|
|Back to the Beach||1987||Actor||Annette||19877|
|The Shaggy Dog||1959||Actor||Allison D'Allessio||19597|
|Babes in Toyland||1961||Actor||Mary Contrary||19617|
|The Arthur Godfrey Special||Actor||n/a||7|
|Men Who Rate a "10"||1980 1979 - 1980||Actor||n/a||19807|
|Frasier||2003 1992 - 2003||Actor||Guest Caller Charlotte||20037|
|The Best of Disney: 50 Years of Magic||1990 1989 - 1990||Actor||n/a||19907|
|Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special||1988 1987 - 1988||Actor||n/a||19887|
|The Lost Youth of Hollywood||1990 1989 - 1990||Actor||n/a||19907|
|People's 20th Birthday||1993 1992 - 1993||Actor||n/a||19937|
|Zorro||1958 1956 - 1958||Actor||Anita Cabrillo; Diego's friend||19587|
|Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine||1964||Actor||Girl in the Stock||19647|
|The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca||Actor||n/a||7|
|Make Room For Daddy||1963 1952 - 1963||Actor||Gina Minelli; Italian exchange student residing with Danny||19637|
|Troop Beverly Hills||1989||Actor||Herself||19897|
|More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace||1992 1991 - 1992||Actor||n/a||19927|
|A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story||Narrator||Narration||1|
|Back to the Beach||1987||Co-Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story||Book as Source Material||from autobiography("A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story")||1|
|Thunder Alley||1967||Song Performer||n/a||1|
|Beach Party||1962||Song Performer||("Promise Me Anything (Give Me More)" "Treat Him Nicely")||1|
|Good Morning, Vietnam||1987||Song Performer||("Beach Blanket Bingo")||1|
|Original cast member of the the Mickey Mouse Club|
|First pairing with Frankie Avalon, "Beach Party"|
|Played exchange student Gina, "The Danny Thomas Show"|
|In first feature following 19 year break she is reunited with Avalon in sleeper hit, "Back to the Beach"|
|Made cameo appearance in the TV movie adaptation of her autobiography|
|Publicly admitted having multiple sclerosis since 1987|
|Last feature appearance, "Troop Beverly Hills"|
|Regular on an adventure series, "Zorro"|
|Co-wrote autobiography, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"|
|Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame|
|Feature acting debut, "Johnny Tremain"|
|Star of own shortlived series, "Annette"|
|Asked to leave the Mouseketeers when she hit puberty|
|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"|
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.
|Jack Gilardi||Husband||married in 1965; divorced in 1981|
|Gina Gilardi||Daughter||born c. 1966; married to businessman Jack Portman|
|Jack Gilardi||Son||born c. 1970|
|Jason Gilardi||Son||born on October 21, 1974|
|Glen Holt||Husband||born in 1930; married in 1986|
|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|
|Founder, The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases|
From classic movie palaces to the state-of-the-art IMAX screens.