Annette Funicello Dead at 70

Famous Mouseketeer and actress had long suffered from MS

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 8, 2013 12:41 PM CDT

(Newser) – Annette Funicello, who shot to fame at age 12 as a Disney Mouseketeer, has died from complications of multiple sclerosis at age 70, her family confirms to Extra. Funicello parlayed her Disney fame into a successful singing and acting career perhaps most noted for her Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon in the 1960s. "You knew she was very attractive, very pretty and voluptuous, but Annette never flaunted it," Avalon, now 75, told People in 1998. "She underplayed everything. She never tried to be sexy. People said to themselves, 'I could date that girl if I ever met her.' She wasn't untouchable."

Funicello had reportedly been in an MS coma for years, and had just been taken off life support. "She's on her toes dancing in heaven ... no more MS," said daughter Gina Gilardi in a statement. "My brothers and I were there, holding her sweet hands when she left us." Funicello announced her MS in 1992, having hidden the disease for years.

In this Oct. 20, 1990 file photo, actress and former Mickey Mouse Club member Annette Funicello arrives for the 15th annual Italian American Foundation dinner.
In this Oct. 20, 1990 file photo, actress and former Mickey Mouse Club member Annette Funicello arrives for the 15th annual Italian American Foundation dinner.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)
A 1955 file photo of Annette Funicello, a Mouseketeer on Walt Disney's TV series the Mickey Mouse Club.
A 1955 file photo of Annette Funicello, a Mouseketeer on Walt Disney's TV series the "Mickey Mouse Club."   (AP Photo/ho, File)
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