On this day in 1942, America’s Mousekesweetheart Annette Funicello was born in Utica, New York.
Just a few years later she become the last of the initial 24 children selected to appear as Mouseketeers on the Mickey Mouse Club, quickly becoming a mouskefavorite. In fact, by the end of the first season of the show, her fan mail had ballooned to 6,000 letters a month.
In later years, Annette continued to enjoy success in television and film in both Disney and non-Disney television shows and films such as Make Room For Daddy and the Disney series Zorro, The Horsemasters, and Elfego Baca and feature films such as The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, and The Monkey’s Uncle. As a teenager she sang her way into the hearts of America as a recording artist with 15 record albums for Disney, and she starred in a string of successful Beach movies with teen idol Frankie Avalon.
In 1995, she released her autobiography A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story, which was also turned into a television movie, covering her life from her early years to her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. Disney publicist Arlene Ludwig was a personal friend of Annette’s, and was even a bridesmaid in her wedding. When we asked her to describe Annette she said,
“Charming, great sense of humor, loved the Beatles!”
and she added, “Although I don’t remember the year, we were in Denver where Annette was on a promo tour for Monkey’s Uncle. We were in the hair salon at the hotel when Frank Petraglia (who handled all field publicity, tours, etc.) donned a Beatles wig and showed up in the salon — absolutely broke her up!”