Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hang a Lantern in Your Window

ny other household in America tuning in to ABC for the live broadcast of Disneyland's Grand Opening could tell straight away - just like Mr. Disney could - that Annette Funicello, the little pirouetting Mouseketeer, was well on her way to becoming America's newest sweetheart.  But in one particular household there was an 11 year old girl watching the show who pursed her lips at the sight of Annette and decided from that moment forward, she couldn't stand her.
  Unlike most classic Disney fans, I do not have the privilege of saying that I have been a lifelong fan of Annette's.  The reason is simple: that precocious 11- year-old I told you about grew up and became my Mother.  I was raised on the principal that Annette was 'annoying' and was discouraged to have anything to do with her.  She was almost a taboo subject if I brought her up to my Mom, the only real Disney fan in my family, and I would simply get a dismissive response and the only time I heard my Mom say something thoughtful about Annette was when we would hear about her very public illness through the media.  It didn't take long before I almost completely gave up on having any kind of relationship with this One-Named Wonder at all. However, as any curious child would do, I admired Annette from afar because she was forbidden. On Hawaiian Day in our Kindergarten class, I shook my hula skirt to her version of 'Hukilau' and loved every illicit note of it ('Ama'ama and all).  On every mandatory visit to Disneyland's Tinker Bell Toy Shoppe, I would press my little nose against the glass case when no one was looking and say 'hello' to the Madame Alexander doll donning a Mickey Mouse Club outfit as I pondered the secrets she held from me.  I will never be privvy to the reasons behind my Mother's harsh snap judgement against this adorable little girl, but I can only laugh and deduce that Annette and my mother were only a few years apart in age and shared the same perky attitude, short thick curly hair and pronounced eyebrows.  My Mom is my hero and she will always be the winner to me, but I gotta admit - she certainly knew who her competition was.

Paying homage at Disneyland's
Tomorrowland Stage. Come
along and dance with us!
  It took me a long time to talk myself into understanding Annette. It wasn't until several years ago, when Eric and I began delving deeper into Disneyland's history, that I finally found what I was looking for in Annette after all these years of separation: a boy-crazy Scorpio girly-girl who I would love to become friends with.  Attending D23's 'Destination D: 'Disneyland '55' Mickey Mouse Club panel in 2010 was a major turning point for me when I realized how adored Annette was, but it wasn't even until this past year, thanks to the kindness of like-minded Annette fans, that I finally came to understand what everyone's been talking about all this time. Let me just say, the car trips home from Disneyland would not be the same without raising the 'ruff' with the big fat beat, and Eric and I are both better Mouskepeople because of it.

  Today, part of Mr. Disney's legacy dies with Annette Funicello.  We should all be so lucky to have had someone like Annette to share with the world - no matter what length of time each one of us had with her.  She is the face of Mr. Disney's empire, the voice of a teener generation, a living Disneyland fixture and she had the best hair and beach body I have ever seen.  I feel fortunate to have been given the chance to celebrate Annette while she was alive and I am am proud to spend the rest of my life discovering and being captivated by her - she'll make a lifelong fan out of me yet!

  If you are interested in helping support the fight against Multiple Sclorosis, the infamously devoted and incredibly talented Kevin Kidney teamed up with Zazzle last year and created Annette's Place, featuring some groovy choose-your-own-adventure style Annette merchandise that I highly recommend (though I'm still hoping for a version of Disneyland After Dark Annette - hint, hint!). As taken directly from the site: "All proceeds fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological diseases."

  Annette, thank you for giving us things to smile about and reasons to dance. We'll be sure to hang a lantern in our window just for you.  You do what nobody can do.

In Memory of Annette Joanne Funicello
                                              October 22, 1942 - April 8, 2013

"C" Ya Real Soon,
Eric & Ginger


  1. Farewell to the very first Blue Fairy in Disneyland's "Main Street Electrical Parade"!

  2. Awww, such a nice tribute! Arrivederci, Miss Funicello.....may you forever rest in peace.