“ANNETTE: America’s Girl Next Door and the Queen of Teen” At The Hollywood Museum

The Hollywood Museum
Fans, friends and the famous gathered at The Hollywood Museum in honor of the 60th anniversary of Disney’s “ANNETTE” serials,, as to pay tribute to the quintessential good girl, Annette Funicello, with the opening of the “ANNETTE: America’s Girl Next Door and the Queen of Teen” exhibit.11AnnetteAmong those in attendance and spoke were fellow Mickey Mouse club members Paul Petersen, Johnny Crawford and Tommy Cole. as well as numerous other former child stars including, Eric Scott (The Waltons), Erin Murphy (Bewitched), Katy Kurtzman (Dynasty), Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair), Stanley Livingston (My Three Sons), Darby Hinton (Daniel Boone), Alison Arngrim (Little House …), Keith Coogan (Adventures in Babysitting and Jackie Coogan’s grandson), and noted Annette fans such as Kate Linder (Y&R), Bruce Vilanch (Commedian), Lee Purcell (Valley Girl), Jack Betts (Spiderman), Laura Pursell (Recording artist), Ro Brooks (Tyler Perry’s The Have and the Have Nots), Geoffrey Mark (Grammy Winner) Carolyn Hennesy (True Blood/Cougar Town/GH) and more.

3 original Mouseketeers - Paul Petersen, Tommy Cole and Johnny Crawford

3 original Mouseketeers – Paul Petersen, Tommy Cole and Johnny Crawford

3 former child stars Alison Arngrim (Little House), Eric Scott (Waltons), Erin Murphy (Bewitched)

3 former child stars Alison Arngrim (Little House), Eric Scott (Waltons), Erin Murphy (Bewitched)

Annette Collectibles on Display

Annette Collectibles on Display

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.

President and Founder of the Hollywood Museum, Donelle Dadigan welcomes the crowd and introduces 3 former Mouseketeers to share their memories of Annette

President and Founder of the Hollywood Museum, Donelle Dadigan welcomes the crowd and introduces 3 former Mouseketeers to share their memories of Annette

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.

Two former western child stars, Johnny Crawford (Mickey Mouse Club/The Rifleman) and Darby Hinton (Daniel Boone)

Two former western child stars, Johnny Crawford (Mickey Mouse Club/The Rifleman) and Darby Hinton (Daniel Boone)

“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.”

Y&R star of over 35 years, Kate Linder with Annette bathing suit

Y&R star of over 35 years, Kate Linder with Annette bathing suit

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 children’s television show that began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets.

Paul Petersen shares memories of Annette with crowd along with Tommy Cole, Johnny Crawford and Donelle Dadigan

Paul Petersen shares memories of Annette with crowd along with Tommy Cole, Johnny Crawford and Donelle Dadigan

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.

Carolyn Hennesy, Ro Brooks and Lee Purcell check out Harry Potter exhibit, next to Annette Funicello

Carolyn Hennesy, Ro Brooks and Lee Purcell check out Harry Potter exhibit, next to Annette Funicello

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,” Disney’s 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.

Laura Pursell and Jack Betts contemplate the Beverly Hillbillies truck on the same floor as the ANNETTE Exhibit

Laura Pursell and Jack Betts contemplate the Beverly Hillbillies truck on the same floor as the ANNETTE Exhibit

Disney Studio’s promoted her as “America’s girl next door,”but she still managed to take center stage during the controversial years of the rock ’n’ roll’s exuberant emergence. She was the youngest member of Dick Clark’s 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.

Steve Nycklemoe (Museum manager), Tommy Cole, Paul Petersen, Donelle Dadigan (President/Founder of The Hollywood Museum) and Johnny Crawford.

Steve Nycklemoe (Museum manager), Tommy Cole, Paul Petersen, Donelle Dadigan (President/Founder of The Hollywood Museum) and Johnny Crawford.

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.”

Lft to Rt: Alison Arngrim (Little House), Stanley Livingston (My Three Sons), Tommy Cole (Mickey Mouse Club), Paul Petersen (Mickey Mouse Club/Donna Reed Show), Lee Purcell (Valley Girl), Johnny Crawford (Mickey Mouse Club/The Rifleman), Donelle Dadigan (President/Founder of The Hollywood Museum), Katy Kurtzman (Dynasty), Keith Coogan (Adventures in Babysitting/Jackie Coogan's grandson), Eric Scott (Waltons), Carolyn Hennesy (True Blood/GH), Geoffrey Mark (Grammy Winner), Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair) and Bruce Vilanch (Comedian/Writer)

Lft to Rt: Alison Arngrim (Little House), Stanley Livingston (My Three Sons), Tommy Cole (Mickey Mouse Club), Paul Petersen (Mickey Mouse Club/Donna Reed Show), Lee Purcell (Valley Girl), Johnny Crawford (Mickey Mouse Club/The Rifleman), Donelle Dadigan (President/Founder of The Hollywood Museum), Katy Kurtzman (Dynasty), Keith Coogan (Adventures in Babysitting/Jackie Coogan’s grandson), Eric Scott (Waltons), Carolyn Hennesy (True Blood/GH), Geoffrey Mark (Grammy Winner), Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair) and Bruce Vilanch (Comedian/Writer)

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  Bill Dow/Courtesy of The Hollywood Museum
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