Annette Funicello–an icon of my growing up. On our new and fledgling TV screen that our Aunt Nola bought us, on The Mickey Mouse Club, she seemed just like me and my friends (especially my best friend JH whose family was from Syria), was ethnic-looking (certainly an Italian last name and that curly hair!), and was olive-skinned (just like me). She had no pretensions. She seemed genuine and real. Her “Mouse Cartoon Time” mantra is still embedded in my memory (see below). On The Mickey Mouse Club she danced, sang, and was the star of an embedded mini-serial called Annette. I was convinced I was watching the reality of her life. In my first brush with the virtual, I believed she was my friend too.
I was not such a fan of her later Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon or her musical career. I had fast-forwarded to politics by then and her bikini frolicking in the 60s, her “Tall Paul,” and “O Mio Dio” were certainly not in the same league with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Much later, when I learned of her MS (publically announced in 1992), it was the Mouseketeer Annette I saw struggling with this disease.
Here’s to the best Mousketeer of all time, to someone on the TV who looked like me and my friends, and allowed us the appearance of her friendship.
Now’s the time to say goodbye….