Certianly the most popular Mouseketeer, Disney marketed everything from Annette lunch boxes and dolls to mystery novels about her fictionalized adventures. With Annette’s image The Mickey Mouse Club generated orders for 24,000 mouse-eared beanies a day. Even though her contribution was obvious to the ears success, when she lost an official pair of felt mouse ears, she was charged $55 that was deducted from her $185 weekly paycheck.
The exhibit, which will run through Labor Day,” includes personal property and items including personal letters, awards, jewelry, wardrobe, dolls, games, props, original movie posters, and much more, including a signed pair of Mouseketeer ears.
It is hard to believe that it has been almost 65 years since Annette Funicello, the break out child star and most celebrated of the Mouseketeers, became a household name. And, that Disney’s ANNETTE” TV serials premiered 60 years ago on Feb 11th. And were a predecessor to the movie of the week,” – it’s phenomenal success and popularity among children and adults alike, launched a genre that would eventually be called the mini-series, suggests President and Founder of The Hollywood Museum, Donelle Dadigan. Although there have been many TV series that became successful using a celebrities full name in the title, including Dinah Shore, Dick Van Dyke, Patty Duke, Doris Day and even “Shirley Temple’s Storybook,” – young Annette Funicello was really the first TV star to do so on the strength of only a first name, until “The Lucy Show” four years later and long before Elvis, Liza, Liberace, RuPaul or Oprah.
Young audiences were drawn to her sweet, forthright appeal, and parents appreciated her as the perfect example for their own children. Annette Joanne Funicello was born on Oct. 22, 1942, in Utica, N.Y., at the age of 2, she learned the words to every song on the hit parade, her favorite being Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive. Annette took dancing lessons, learned to play drums and, at 9, was named Miss Willow Lake at a poolside beauty contest. Walt Disney, who wanted amateurs and not professional child actors, personally discovered her when she danced in Swan Lake at a local recital which her led to her being selected as the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers for The Mickey Mouse Club, the immensely popular childrens television show that began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets.
Breaking records, she received more than 6,000 fan letters a week, from both boys and girls, and would become known simply as Annette, years before celebrities like Cher, Madonna and Prince would hold that distinction. In fact, she once decided she wanted to change her last name to something more typically American. She chose Turner. But Mr. Disney, whom she considered a second father, convinced her that it wouldnt be necessary, because “Annette” would be all she needed.
In 1958, as The Mickey Mouse Club was preparing for its 4th season, Mr. Disney summoned Ms. Funicello to his office. She feared she was going to be fired for growing too tall, but instead he offered her a studio contract (the only one given to a Mouseketeer) and the title role in the “ANNETTE” serials. Her first movie role in The Shaggy Dog, Disneys first live-action comedy and followed by the television series Zorro. Disney then loaned out Annette to CBS to appear on the Danny Thomas sitcom Make Room for Daddy, all while pursuing a recording career, with two Top 10 singles: Tall Paul, Pineapple Princess and O Dio Mio, before popularizing the successful “Beach Party” genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon.
Disney Studio’s promoted her as Americas girl next door,but she still managed to take center stage during the controversial years of the rock n rolls exuberant emergence. She was the youngest member of Dick Clarks Caravan of Stars tour, which included LaVern Baker, the Drifters, Bobby Rydell, the Coasters and Paul Anka. Mr. Anka, her then boyfriend, wrote Puppy Love for her in her parents living room.
Annette Funicello won millions of American hearts as a self proclaimed the queen of teen, in Mickey Mouse ears and would later captivated adolescent baby boomers in slightly spicy beach movies. At the height of her stardom, she said her ambition was to quit show business and have nine children, becoming a homemaker after marrying at 22 and eventually, bravely championed people with multiple sclerosis. Her cheerfulness continued to become legendary and she often remarked that Mickey is more than a mouse to me. I am honored to call him a friend.
ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD MUSEUM
See 10,000 Authentic Show Business Treasures spotlighting more than 100 years of Hollywood history – from the Silents to Talkies, to Hollywood’s Golden Era, Film Noir, Television and its Pioneer Years, through the rebellious 60s, special effects 70s, evolving 80s, involved 90s, technological 2000s, and beyond to current day heartthrobs! The Hollywood Museum’s exhibits showcase the best in film, network and cable television, and new digital platforms featuring iconic and fan favorites! Named one of the top tourist attractions by LA Weekly, voted one of the Top 10 Museums in LA by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, and annually receives the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. Located in the heart of Hollywood, at the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave – The Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building is the Official Museum of Hollywood and offers visitors the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world featuring the glamour of Hollywood legends and stars – past, present and in the making . See one-of-a-kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections, personal artifacts, posters, and memorabilia from favorite stars, films and TV shows. The Hollywood Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
REGULAR HOURS: Wednesday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
TICKETS: $15 Adults: $12 Seniors (62+): $12 for students with ID and $5 Children under 5.
ADDRESS: 1660 N. Highland Ave. (at Hollywood Blvd.), Los Angeles, CA 90028
MUSEUM INFO: www.TheHollywoodMuseum.com or Tel: (323) 464-7776
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