As you may know, Annette Funicello was discovered by Walt Disney himself while attending an amateur program at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank when she was just 13 years old. That single meeting led to one of the most enduring associations in show business history.
Earlier today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger spoke for all of us at Disney when he said, “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mouseketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”
The Mickey Mouse Club made its television debut on the opening day of Disneyland park, July 17, 1955. During countless appearances in the years that followed, Annette, now a television star, also became a familiar face at Disneyland park. In fact, some of the earliest pictures in our photo archive are of her.
We’ve pulled together some of our favorite photos of Annette through the years and are pleased to share them with you as we remember this very special lady who was so dear to so many.
Where it all began, July 17, 1955, at Disneyland park.
In 1958, Annette welcomed Princess Sophia from Greece.
That same year, this publicity photo for a new record was taken at Disneyland park.
Here is another publicity photo, taken perhaps for “Tall Paul.”
Annette always had time for her fans.
Annette has a “Date Nite” at Disneyland park in November 1959.
Annette channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in 1961.
This very rare photo of Annette in Town Square at Disneyland park was taken to promote a potential TV special, which was unfortunately never produced.
In 1968, Annette reunited with her fellow Mouseketeers for a special appearance at Disneyland park.
Annette returned with her family in the 1970s.
Annette met two Disney Princesses during her 1993 visit.
The final photo of Annette in our archive was taken in 1996 alongside her longtime co-star, Frankie Avalon, during a special cavalcade on Main Street, U.S.A.
Every photo of this Disney Legend seems to capture her grace, her talent, her warmth and her kindness – all the qualities which make it easy to understand what caught the eye of Walt Disney during that amateur program nearly six decades ago.
I was lucky enough to meet her twice. Once when she and Marie Osmond came out with the “Day of the Week” bears. The second time at the San Bernardino County Fair with Frankie Avalon. This was right after Annette and Frankie made “Back to the Beach.” At that time she had not come out yet but you could tell something wasn’t right. She often sat on a stool and Frankie held on her as they both stood to sing a song. I photos I took of her are placed inside the autobiography book I have. What I will remember most about her, was what wonderful person, no matter if you were the last person or the first she always having a smile on her face. Thank you Annette for letting us meet you. If you see Mr. Disney, can you tell him we miss him too.
Annette, the WORLDS girl next door.
R.I.P. Doll and thanks for being part of my life.
I will always love you.
i just watch a tribute with those beach movies. while ABC did end their national newscats with her story, i dont know if i want to smile. but now i’m smiling even in the tough times in my life. she was the “original” disney princess who became the queen of the magic kingdom who battled MS to very end and love Mickey Mouse and all the mouseketeers that followed her. if her family sholud have a memorial service place it should be Disneyland. Let HER banner foever High! Rest in Peace
If there is a happy place like Disneyland where she has gone then be happy for her. She is not suffering anymore.
She was a huge part of my chidhood… She rests in the arms of the angels now, no longer suffering. She has been reunited with her family and Mr Disney. GOD bless you and my his gracious light shine on you forever.. you are LOVED LOVED LOVED…
The Disney Channel Stars of today should take a look at what a great role model Annette was in everything she did. Thanks for sharing these great memories. I am too young to have experienced most of her career, I have had the benefit of The Disney Treasures to watch an share with my daughter. Thanks Annette, you will be missed.
I’m sure Walt was right there to greet her along with other loved ones that have passed before her. What a lovely and gracious lady! I wonder if Walt knew, I mean REALLY knew right away, how closely Annette reflected the very persona he was trying to give to his Walt Disney Co? Farewell and thank you for creating so many memories for so many people……
ANNETTE, Thanks for all the enjoyment you gave the world.
Every young boys dream girl. I know you made my heart race. In heaven now our darling dream girl, no more pain. You will be loved by millions for eternity.
Thank you for sharing the beautiful. Annette was the definition of poise.
Thank you for shearing these amazing photo. I use to run home from school when I was a kid to watch the Mickey Mouse Club.
A friend of mine had the great privledge of meeting her once.
I had been asking him about his having met Walt Disney at a Pop Warner football event that was held in the old “Holidayland” section of the park, where New Orleans Square is now. He had showed me Walt’s autograph from that day. I asked what it was like meeting Walt. He replied that the significance of meeting Walt was lost on him until years later. He was eight years old and he was impressed because (and the emphasis is his) he GOT TO MEET ANNETTE!
I was sitting here in my brother’s home waiting to go back to work when the news came over my fb and twitter feed. I pushed off my chair and stood and said, “NO!” The tears came instantly and I cried for my very first role model ever. My dad use to tell me, “Be like Annette. Look at her and be like her.” I am so glad I did grow up being as close as I could be to Annette. The original Disney princess, indeed. I knew she was very sick and I know eventually her time would come, but it still hurts deeply. I agree, they need to erect a statue of her at the parks. Thank you for sharing these pictures. She is and always will be THE perfect Mouseketeer. No other Mouseketeer can ever hold a candle to her. She is class, dignity, bravery, elegance, beautiful, talented and everything positive with this world. I hope she is enjoying a long chat with her family who was waiting for her, but I know Mr. Disney is showing her around. That comforts me. She always relied on Mr. Disney to get her through things. God bless her and my deepest condolences to her family and friends. We all lost part of heart.