Legends In the News

Disney Pays Tribute to “America’s Sweetheart”


The world lost one of its brightest stars earlier this year when original Mouseketeer Annette Funicello—“America’s Sweetheart”—lost her long battle with multiple sclerosis. In tribute to this Disney Legend who got her start at the Walt Disney Studios, “Stage One” where she filmed the original Mickey Mouse Club was dedicated in her honor. Before family, fellow Mouseketeers, co-stars and friends, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger—with a little help from Mickey Mouse himself—unveiled the newly renamed “Annette Funicello Stage.” Though she may never walk amongst us again, Annette’s legacy and contribution to Disney will not soon be forgotten.

The Walt Disney Archives brought out Annette’s original Mouseketeer costume and memorabilia for the “Life Celebration” in the Main Studio Theatre.

The Walt Disney Archives brought out Annette’s original Mouseketeer costume and memorabilia for the “Life Celebration” in the Main Studio Theatre.

Annette’s Talent Roundup costume and more memorabilia on display in the lobby of the Main Studio Theatre.

Annette’s Talent Roundup costume and more memorabilia on display in the lobby of the Main Studio Theatre.

Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger displays the plaque commemorating the dedication while surrounded by Annette’s husband Glenn Holt, children, and grandchildren.

Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger displays the plaque commemorating the dedication while surrounded by Annette’s husband Glenn Holt, children, and grandchildren.

Annette’s daughter, Gina Gilardi, says a few heartfelt words on the family’s behalf.

Annette’s daughter, Gina Gilardi, says a few heartfelt words on the family’s behalf.

Annette’s family and fellow original Mouseketeers flank Robert A. Iger in front of the newly dedicated “Annette Funicello Stage.”

Annette’s family and fellow original Mouseketeers flank Robert A. Iger in front of the newly dedicated “Annette Funicello Stage.”

A tribute to Annette Funicello wouldn’t be complete without Mickey Mouse.

A tribute to Annette Funicello wouldn’t be complete without Mickey Mouse.

During the “Annette Funicello: A Life Celebration” that immediately followed the dedication, original Mouseketeers gathered to share their fondest memories of Annette on a panel hosted by Leonard Maltin.

During the “Annette Funicello: A Life Celebration” that immediately followed the dedication, original Mouseketeers gathered to share their fondest memories of Annette on a panel hosted by Leonard Maltin.

Original Mouseketeer Sherry Alberoni shares a fun memory of Annette with Leonard Maltin and guests at “Annette Funicello: A Life Celebration.”

Original Mouseketeer Sherry Alberoni shares a fun memory of Annette with Leonard Maltin and guests at “Annette Funicello: A Life Celebration.”

Original Mouseketeer Tommy Cole sings “Annette, Annette, Annette” along with a clip of “America’s Sweetheart” doing what she loved most, dancing.

Original Mouseketeer Tommy Cole sings “Annette, Annette, Annette” along with a clip of “America’s Sweetheart” doing what she loved most, dancing.

Filmmaker Stanley Brooks, Annette’s husband Glenn Holt, and Annette’s dear friend actress Shelly Fabares remember the star and her brave battle with multiple sclerosis.

Filmmaker Stanley Brooks, Annette’s husband Glenn Holt, and Annette’s dear friend actress Shelly Fabares remember the star and her brave battle with multiple sclerosis.

Friends and costars, including Annette’s Beach Party co-star Frankie Avalon, gathered for the “Life Celebration.”

Friends and costars, including Annette’s Beach Party co-star Frankie Avalon, gathered for the “Life Celebration.”

In a fitting tribute to their fellow Mouseketeer, (L-R) Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey, Cubby O’Brien, Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, and Darlene Gillespie sing the Mickey Mouse Club “Alma Mater.”

In a fitting tribute to their fellow Mouseketeer, (L-R) Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey, Cubby O’Brien, Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, and Darlene Gillespie sing the Mickey Mouse Club “Alma Mater.”