Remembering Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park

George Savvas

by , Director, Public Relations, Disneyland Resort

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.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park, July 17, 1955

Where it all began, July 17, 1955, at Disneyland park.

Annette Funicello with Princess Sophia from Greece at Disneyland Park

In 1958, Annette welcomed Princess Sophia from Greece.

Annette Funicello in a Publicity Photo at Disneyland Park

That same year, this publicity photo for a new record was taken at Disneyland park.

Annette Funicello in a Publicity Photo at Disneyland Park

Here is another publicity photo, taken perhaps for “Tall Paul.”

Annette Funicello with a Fan at Disneyland Park

Annette always had time for her fans.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park

Annette has a “Date Nite” at Disneyland park in November 1959.

Annette Funicello Channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in Disneyland Park, 1961

Annette channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in 1961.

Annette Funicello in a Publicity Photo at Disneyland Park

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.

Annette Funicello at a 1968 Mouseketeer Reunion at Disneyland Park

In 1968, Annette reunited with her fellow Mouseketeers for a special appearance at Disneyland park.

Annette Funicello with her Family at Disneyland Park

Annette returned with her family in the 1970s.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park, 1993

Annette met two Disney Princesses during her 1993 visit.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park, 1996

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.

Comments

  • Thanks so much for sharing these stunning rare photos!

  • Soo sadden it her of her passing. She went out with such grace!! RIP

  • She was a star in every since of the word and a disney legend. Thank you for sharing these special memories of her. And I want thank Bob Iger for his rememeberance of her. Annette thank you for you and rip. 🙁

  • These photos are absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  • Annette shares a special place in the hearts of so many people. I wasn’t born to see her act, or listen to her sing but since I was about 10 I’ve looked up to her and admired her. I’m so sad that she has passed, but am happy to know that she’s not suffering from MS any longer and is once again with MR. Disney :). RIP

  • Wow, this is terrible news. she’s like a key figure who helped get Disney off the ground. She was ALWAYS a beautiful woman. style and grace.

    mt condolences to her family.

  • The Skull Rock photo is particularly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • “Everybody neat and pretty? Then on with the show…….” Yes, Annette…you always were. God Bless you for maintaining that perfect Disney Mouseketeer image in everything you did
    . I think you might have been the “original” Disney Princess!

  • she will always be part of the Disney Spirt 🙂

  • Annette Funicello will be greatly missed,she was a great roll model for women,with so much kindness,style and grace.I so loved her movies,watched her on The Mouseketeers.Thank You for sharing these photo’s of her.My heartfelt Sympathy to her family ….

  • So sad to hear this, but she is now well and no longer suffering. R.I.P.

  • The first Disney Princess. Always a proper lady with charm & grace, the true Disney Spirit. My heartfelt sympathy to her family & may God have her in His ever loving care. Riposa in pace bella principessa.

  • She is an American icon. I was too young to remember her much as a mousketeer but was always a fan of the beach party movies. (And I was named after her 🙂 )

  • First Movie Star crush as a kid growing up in CALIFORNIA….

  • She will b e missed but never forgotten. RIP Annette

  • So sad to hear. Feels like a family member. truly nice people will live on forever, in our hearts and minds and luckily in old movies and Mickey Mouse Club Shows.

  • I hope she will get a special window on Main Street USA. With her dedication and loyalty to Walt Disney and the decent image she kept, she definitely deserves this special recognition. Even though I am only 33 years old, I still am a huge fan of hers. What a sweet and lovely lady she was.

  • She was so graceful and beautiful1 Thank you for sharing these pictures!! It is a sad day at the Mickey Mouse Club! 🙁

  • I admired her work on TV, movies and records. When I was diagnosed with MS she was an inspiration of how to live with dignity, joy and humor. Thank you for honoring her and thank you Annette.

  • annette, may you meet our heavenly father, you were such a great person , on earth, our lord will welcome you into his kingdom, rest in peach, C.R. penna- you were always so great !.

  • Thanks for the memories. It is a sad day. It just seemed she would be forever young.

  • My very 1st crush!!! Thanks for sharing the photos. RIP Annette

  • These pictures are so wonderful, and clearly show the amazing, graceful and iconic woman we all loved so much! It’s a sad day, but we can all hold onto the memories, laugh at the movies and shows, and know that she is now at peace. Love and prayers to Ms. Funicello and her family!

  • RIP Annette. Give Uncle Walt a hug for us and thank him for creating such a wonderful legacy for us to enjoy!

  • I was so very sad to hear this today. I watched her on the Mickey Mouse Club and she always was my favorite. May god bless her family in this time. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  • As a cast member and part of the Disney Family, it is unfortunate and a great loss. May God bless her and her family. She will forever be remembered.

  • RIP dear lady. You are the original Disney Princess, and so many fond memories of watching you on the Mouseketeers, your wonderful beach movies with Frankie Avalon. We will miss you, but you will always be in our memories and our hearts.

  • please tell me that they will have a statue at Disneyworld and Disneyland to honor our sweet Annette ill be there if so she was Disney in my book and my 1st crush and I will miss her along with millions more around the world R I P M I C(see ya real soon) K E Y(cause we love you) M O U S E xoxoxo

  • Thank you for sharing these lovely photos.
    I am truly saddened to hear of her passing. Even though I am only 27, I use to watch reruns of the original Mickey mouse club late night on Disney channel. I also love her style and how she defined the genre of beach movies.
    She is a survivor of MS and I don’t think I’ve ever heard her dwell on the fact that she had a disability. May she rest in peace.

  • I was at Disneyland today sitting on a bench when I saw the news on Twitter. I cried.

  • These photos are great thanks so much for sharing them. Annette was always my favourite and I always wished that I could be just like her when I was a kid. She was an absolutely wonderful woman, beautiful, talented, strong and brave. She was a fighter and she will be missed. May she rest in peace, no longer in pain. May God bless her family at this time of loss.

  • We will miss her so just love her when I think of Annette I think of DISNEYLAND ..prayers to her family she will always be remember she is now with Walt Disney chatting about Disney ..<3

  • Condolences to Annette’s family and friends. She can finally dance again, she was a wonderful person.
    I still have my paperdolls of her, and magazines.

  • Well I knew this day would come, but still said. Happy for the memories and that she is no longer in pain. I agree she needs a special window or maybe add a second light over the firehouse. Love and prayers to her family.

  • A True Disney Princess!!
    You will be missed!
    🙂

  • My thoughts and prayers are with her family and her Disney family. I hope to see her get a window at DLR or WDW 🙂

  • Annette embodied the very heart and spirit of everything Walt had in mind when he embarked on his dream of bringing happiness and magic to the world.We will all remember her with love.Thanks for all my childhood memories and dreams.

  • The Disney family has lost a true icon. Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures. My heartful sympathy to her family…God bless.

  • I always wanted to be a California Beach Girl” just like Annette….
    she was so sweet and so fun…I will miss you….You were the
    ultimate Mouseketeer!

  • Thank you for sharing her photos. I remember watching the Mouseketeers and she was my favorite! She was so beautiful, kind and graceful. Heaven just became more beautiful!

  • She was my favorite Mouseketeer! Such a lovely lady! Heaven just got better upon her arrival. RIP

  • im sad,its been a tuff day,for us disney and annette fans. thank you
    for the pictures. she was a class act. im sure annette and walt have
    a lot to talk about….

  • Thank you for sharing! Love these pictures, it is amazing to see Annette’s relationship with Disney continue all these years.

  • Thank you so much for the pictures. She was my first TV crush.

  • Great photos! Thank you for sharing. We will miss her, she was a beautiful lady inside and out.

  • WE HAVE LOST THE GREATEST MOUSEKETER IN THE WORLD GOD BLESS YOU ANNETTE YOU WILL BE MISSED

  • She was my BFF, she just never knew it. She has always been and will always be my favorite movie star. She is with us in photos and memories, but she is in Heaven now with Jesus and family members and has no more pain. We will always love you, Annette.

  • THANK YOU FOR THE WONDERFUL PICTURES AND MEMORIES.

  • Who didn’t like Annette? All these memories are making me verklempt. Hey Annette “M-I-C… See you real soon”. (But not too soon, OK honey?)

  • ..blessed to see Mouseketeer ANNETTE do her Ballet Dance, in a pink ballet outfit, at Disneyland’s 1st live Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers Show in the mid-1950’s. She was a real standout. It was in this same kind of venue that earlier prompted Walt Disney to sign ANNETTE to be his first Mouseketeer in his new upcoming TV Show ..The Mickey Mouse Club..

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