As news spreads of Annette Funicello’s passing at age 70 from Multiple Sclerosis-related complications, colleagues and fans have begun to share their fond remembrances of the former Mouseketeer and “Beach Party” goer.
Lori Loughlin, costar in 1987’s Back to the Beach: “Annette Funicello was really a wonderful person. I enjoyed working with her immensely and found her to be kind and down-to-earth. She faced her illness with courage and never wanted anyone to have pity on her. I have a fond memory of having lunch at her home many years ago and when she opened the cabinet to get something, there were rows of Skippy peanut butter. She was truly the embodiment of the friendly, all-American girl that we all loved to watch in the beach movies.”
Paul Anka, friend: “Annette was a star from the time she was 12 years old, and I met her shortly after. In addition to her talent, she was self-possessed, determined, had incredible integrity, and was loved by everyone. When life threw her a terrible curve, she showed the best side of herself by coming forward to discuss her MS with courage and candor. As much as she entertained us as a young woman, she gave so much more by sharing her experience and raising awareness of this disease.
She was kind and intelligent and she will be missed by her family and her wide circle of friends, in which I was lucky to be included.”
Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company: “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, 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.”
Richard Sherman, Oscar-winning composer: “Annette’s sweet, unassuming spirit, her love of people, and her capacity to exude kindness and good feelings to everyone she met was part of her beautiful charisma. Because the songs we wrote for her brought us to the attention of Walt, Bob and I always referred to Annette as our ‘lucky star.’ My wife, Elizabeth, joins me in sending a heartfelt aloha with much love to our ‘Pineapple Princess.'”
Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney: “Everyone who knew Annette loved and respected her. She was one of the loveliest people I’ve ever known, and was always so kind to everyone. She was also the consummate professional, and had such great loyalty to my father. Annette will always be very special to me and Ron [Miller, Diane’s husband].”
Ron Miller, who helmed the Disney company in the 1980s and worked with Annette as a young assistant on The Mickey Mouse Club: “She was always in good spirits and ready to help out if she needed to step in when something unexpected happened.”
Fellow Mouseketeer and long-time friend Sharon Baird: “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.”