Annette Funicello


Annette Funicello passed away on Monday. It wasn’t a surprise; she’s been sick for a long time – she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987, and has been battling it ever since.



But it is a very sad occasion for me.



Annette was my very first television crush, back in the late 1950s / early 1960s, when she was one of the original Mousketeers. She was so pretty! And she was always smiling!



Annette had a singing career, and she even had her own TV show for a while. Then, in the mid-1960s, there were the Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon. I never tire of seeing those beach movies; they are eternal 1960s summer, with no shadow of Vietnam or the counterculture. Annette is always the Good Girl; Frankie is always tempted by the Bad Girl (Connie Stevens, or Luciana Paluzzi, or whomever), but he always comes back to Annette.



Annette did occasional gigs in the 70s and 80s, but not much. Then, after her MS was diagnosed in 1987, she and Frankie Avalon made the dreadful-but-loveable “Back to the Beach,” with Connie Stevens and Pee-Wee Herman. It’s a twenty-years-later beach movie, which tries to recapture the feeling of those madcap stupid 1960s beach movies. It fails, naturally.



But who cares? It was fun. I watched it three or four times, because I loved Annette.



And I still do.



Rest in peace, sweetheart.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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