…And Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye…

I grew up on Annette Funicello.  Even though I was only four years old when The Mickey Mouse Club was cancelled, it continued to be rerun every weekday afternoon as an after school half hour program.  My older brother and I rushed home from the bus stop so as not to miss a minute of the fun.

I’ve told this before, but my love of traveling can be traced back to a serial on the show that had Annette traveling to Hawaii on a ship.  I was enchanted by her stateroom and the small onboard swimming pool and the shuffleboard.  And I’ve wanted to travel ever since.

By the time we were watching The Mickey Mouse Club, Annette had grown up and was starring in the Beach Party movies.   I saw them all, and never one time wondered why Annette was so young on TV but so grown up in the movies.

In the early 60s, Annette was the girl other girls wanted to be, and the girl boys wanted to date.  She was, it now seems, the last of her particular type of role model: the old fashioned sweet and kind girl next door.  By 1966 she was replaced in our hearts by Twiggy and Cher.

It’s easy to look at Annette with nostalgia, and it would be easy to dismiss her as just a symbol of all that seemed to be good about the 1950s, when in reality things for women simply were not all that rosy.  But despite the expectations placed on her, Annette lived her life on her own terms.  She may have promised Walt Disney that she would not show her bellybutton in those beach movies, but there is photographic evidence that she didn’t quite comply.  What a rebel!

Photograph copyright Disney

5 Comments

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5 responses to “…And Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye…

  1. I didn’t know her (I’m not American) but it is an interesting story, thanks for sharing

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  2. Lizzie – I too rushed home to watch the show – although I’m older than you, so I saw the first run. When I first read your subject line I thought YOU were leaving us. Now I will be singing to myself the Mickey Mouse Club good-bye song the rest of the day. (I still have a set of ears!)

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  3. Even in the mid 70’s we ran home to watch the Mouse Club and every time I could catch one I watched the Beach movies. Thanks for the tribute.

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  4. I remember her being such an icon of even my childhood. In the 90s several episodes of the Mickey Mouse Club were released on VHS and I even remember putting on my Disneyland mouse ears and dancing along to the intro.

    I have yet to really read anything personal about Annette, but I would be interested to read more on her relationship with Walt. I think he viewed her as a female version of him in a sense. She did so much with the company. Also, for her birthday, Disney gave her the role she played in the two episodes of Zorro! Talk about a birthday present!

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  5. I remember watching Mickey Mouse Club reruns with my sister when we were kids. I always liked Annette and I recall my mom telling us she had loved Annette when she watched during her own childhood.

    When they tried to do a new version of the MMC when I was still a kid, I remember being disappointed with it – the first version was the best!

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