Annette Funicello (born October 22, 1942) was Walt Disney's most popular Mouseketeer.
Born in Utica, New York, USA to an Italian-American family, she took dancing and music lessons as a child and was discovered by Disney while performing in Swan Lake. Her family moved to southern California when she was 4.
She was cast as one of the original "Mouseketeers". She was the last as well as the only one picked by Walt Disney. She soon went on to television roles in Zorro and Elfego Baca, and Disney-produced movies such as The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Monkey's Uncle.
Annette had a number of pop record hits in the late 1950's and early 1960's mostly written by the Sherman Brothers, including: "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," "O Dio Mio," "Train of Love" (written by Paul Anka) and "Pineapple Princess."
After maturing, she became a teen idol and went on to star in a series of "Beach Party" movies with Frankie Avalon including Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach and Beach Blanket Bingo. Funicello and Avalon re-united in 1987 for Back to the Beach, and toured the country as a singing act. After keeping it a secret for many years, Annette announced in 1992 that she had been suffering from multiple sclerosis as rumours were going about that she was an alcoholic due to her impaired carriage.
In 1993 she established the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation.
Her autobiography, published in 1994, is A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story. A made-for-TV movie based on the book was made the following year.