Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Annette Funicello 1942-2013
We were the first generation weaned on television. Even though our screens were twelve inches, the images were only in black and white, there were only a handful of channels, and often the reception was snowy or blurry, television was the most amazing wonderful incredible invention of all-time. Think of your awe when you first saw the iPhone and the things it could do. Now multiply that by a million. That was TV in the ‘50s.
Every afternoon every one of us came home and turned on this magic box. And we all watched the exact same show. THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB on ABC. It was on five days a week and it starred kids… just like us. They were peppier than we were, could sing and dance better, and were cuter but it was still us reflected back on our television screens.
We got to know these kids – the Mouseketeers -- Cheryl, Bobby, Lonnie, Cubby, Karen, Doreen, a bunch of others, and Annette.
Annette was the one who stood out, and I can’t tell you why exactly. There was something special about her. She always seemed so accessible, so nice. Not that the other girls weren’t, but I got a vibe, even at six, that they had stage mothers just off camera ready to ground them if they sang a wrong note. Annette seemed regular, which therefore made her special.
At a time when girls were this complete mystery to me I still felt that if I knew Annette in real life that she would be my friend. She wouldn’t care that I was younger and kind of goofy-looking and couldn’t sing or dance if the Nazis were holding my parents. She would still accept me. Now multiply that by fifty million.
Annette was also the first Mouseketeer to noticeably uh, develop. So she stood out in that way too. If she wasn’t every little boy’s first crush before, that certainly sealed it.
She disappeared from the public eye and raised her own family. After twenty-five years I'd say she was entitled to a little me time.
It breaks my heart to think that she suffered the last twenty years of her life with MS and sacrificed a normal childhood to better all of ours. If it’s any comfort, she was truly loved by an entire generation. And we mourn her passing deeply. You never forget your first. Thank you, Annette, for being my dear friend even though I never met you.