Born in Utica, New York, on October 22, 1942, actress and singer Annette Funicello's family relocated to southern California following the end of World War II. After several years of music and dance lessons, Annette was spotted by Walt Disney and asked to audition for a new show, The Mickey Mouse Club. She was hired, and the show made its debut in 1955. She stayed with Disney for about ten years, making many films, TV appearances, and records.

Annette FunicelloAnnette FunicelloAnnette Funicello in her bikiniAnnette Funicello

LEFT: Annette with her surfboard. This photo was used for one of her album covers. CENTER: Cover of Movies Illustrated from 1963. RIGHT: Early 1960s photos

By the early 1960s, Annette had embarked on the second leg of her career, acting in American International beach party films along with Frankie Avalon. In 1965, during her beach party run, she married her agent, Jack Gilardi.

the films of annette funicello

Babes in Toyland (1961)

Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands

With Tommy Sands from Disney's Babes in Toyland

Beach Party (1963)

Jody McCrea, Bob Cummings, Annette Funicello, and John AshleyRobert Cummings and Annette Funicello

From American International's Beach Party. LEFT: With Robert Cummings, Jody McCrea, and John Ashley. RIGHT: With Robert Cummings

Muscle Beach Party (1964)

Frankie Avalon and Annette FunicelloAnnette Funicello and Peter LupusAnnette Funicello and Peter LupusAnnette Funicello and Peter Lupus

LEFT: With Frankie Avalon. CENTER and RIGHT: With Peter Lupus

Bikini Beach (1964)

Jody McCrea with Frankie Avalon and Annette FunicelloAnnette Funicello with Meredith MacRae

From Bikini Beach. LEFT: With Frankie Avalon and Jody McCrea. RIGHT: With Meredith MacRae

Pajama Party (1964)

Pajama Party Album CoverPajama Party PromoDonna Loren and Annette FunicelloSusan Hart, Donna Loren, Cheryl Sweeten, and Annette FunicelloBuster Keaton, Annette Funicello, and Tommy Kirk

LEFT: Pajama Party album cover. CENTER A: Promotional photo from Pajama Party. CENTER B: With Donna Loren. CENTER C: With Susan Hart, Donna Loren, and Cheryl Sweeten. RIGHT: With Buster Keaton and Tommy Kirk

The Monkey's Uncle (1965)

Annette Funicello and Tommy KirkAnnette Funicello and Cheryl MillerAnnette Funicello and Tommy Kirk

From The Monkey's Uncle, Funicello's last film for Disney. LEFT: With Tommy Kirk. CENTER: With Cheryl Miller. RIGHT: Again with Tommy Kirk. This film was the sequel to The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)

Annette Funicello and Dwayne Hickman

From American International's How to Stuff a Wild Bikini with Dwayne Hickman

Love, American Style (1969-1971 ABC TV Series)

Gary Crosby, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon

From the ABC situation comedy Love, American Style in an episode titled Love and the Tuba, originally airing in December 1971. Also pictured are Gary Crosby and Frankie Avalon

Back to the Beach (1987)

Tommy Hinkley, Lori Loughlin, Annette Funicello, and Frankie Avalon

From the beach comedy Back to the Beach with Tommy Hinkley, Lori Loughlin, and Frankie Avalon

later years

Annette Funicello's marriage to Gilardi ended in 1981 after sixteen years and three children. Her film appearances had become more sporadic after she started a family. By the early 1970s, she had become a commercial spokesperson for a variety of products and remained closely tied to Disney. In 1986, Annette married her second husband, Glen Holt, and started making plans for a new film in which she would act and produce alongside Frankie Avalon. Sadly, while making this film, Back to the Beach, in 1987, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She waited five years before publicly disclosing her condition. Illness aside, she started two different businesses focusing on collectable bears and perfume. Her line of stuffed bears has been particularly successful, and some of the retired designs now fetch high prices. Toward the end of her life, Annette Funicello could no longer walk or speak, due to the ravages of her illness. Sadly, she passed away on April 8, 2013, at the age of 70. She is survived by her husband Glen Holt, daughter Gina, and sons Jason and Jack.

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A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995) Inspired by Annette Funicello's 1992 autobiography
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Back to the Beach (1987) with Frankie Avalon, Connie Stevens, Lori Loughlin, Tommy Hinkley, and Edd Byrnes
Lots of Luck (1985) with Martin Mull and Fred Willard
Head (1968) with the Monkees
Thunder Alley (1967) with Fabian, Diane McBain, and Warren Berlinger
Fireball 500 (1966) with Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Julie Parrish, and Harvey Lembeck
The Monkey's Uncle (1965) with Tommy Kirk, Cheryl Miller, The Beach Boys, Frank Faylen, and Norman Grabowski
Ski Party (1965) with Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, Yvonne Craig, and Deborah Walley
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) with Frankie Avalon, Jody McCrea, John Ashley, and Deborah Walley
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) with Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, and Vincent Price
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965) with Dwayne Hickman and John Ashley
Pajama Party (1964) with Tommy Kirk, Jody McCrea. Elsa Lanchester, Harvey Lembeck, Donna Loren, and Susan Hart
The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964) with Tommy Kirk
Bikini Beach (1964) with Frankie Avalon, John Ashley, and Jody McCrea
Muscle Beach Party (1964) with Frankie Avalon, Peter Lupus, Luciana Paluzzi, Buddy Hackett, John Ashley, Peter Lorre, and Jody McCrea
Beach Party (1963) with Frankie Avalon, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Robert Cummings, Dorothy Malone, and Yvette Vickers
Elfego Baca: Six Gun Law (1962) with Jay C. Flippen
Escapade in Florence (1962) with Tommy Kirk
Babes in Toyland (1961) with Tommy Sands
The Horsemasters (1961) with Tommy Kirk, Janet Munro, and Donald Pleasence
The Shaggy Dog (1959) with Tommy Kirk, Fred MacMurray, Jean Hagen, and Tim Considine

Easy Does It (1976) series with Frankie Avalon
The Danny Thomas Show. Annette was a regular during the 1959 season
The Mickey Mouse Club (1955)


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