A sad day for the Walt Disney Company and fans, family, and friends of Annette Funicello. The former Mouseketeer of The famous 1950s “Mickey Mouse Club” TV show died today of complications of multiple Sclerosis — a disease Funicello had battled for more than 25 years. The actress/singer, who was know as well for those 1960s “Beach Party” movies, reportedly passed away peacefully at a hospital in Bakersfield. She was 70.
On the Disney Post blog, fellow Mouseketeer and long-time friend Sharon Baird reminisced, “Throughout all the years we were friends she never changed from that sweet person who cared so much about others. She always had time for everyone; family, friends and fans alike. It’s no wonder she was America’s sweetheart.”
It is said that Walt Disney himself spotted Funicello in a production of “Swan Lake” at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank when she was only 13. Funicello was soon hired as one of the original Mouseketeers on”The Mickey Mouse Club.” It was the beginning of a long career in entertainment.
More on Funicello’s career and reaction to her death here.