Annette Funicello, actress and one of the original Mouseketeers, has died. She was 70 years old.
According to a statement from The Official Disney Fan Club, Funicello died at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, California. Her death was cause by complications from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Funicello had suffered from MS for over 25 years.
Funicello got her start on screen as one of the original cast members of The Mickey Mouse Club, which began airing in 1955. She proved to be a popular member of the cast, and went on to star in Disney films such as The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, and The Monkey’s Uncle
“Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend,” said Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”
After leaving Disney, Funicello went on to star in several Beach Party movies, including Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Pajama Party, and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.