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  04-08-2013, 12:38 PM
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"BURBANK, Ca., April 8, 2013 - Actress Annette Funicello, long-time Disney and Beach Party star, passed away on Monday April 8 at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, CA, at the age of 70. She died peacefully from complications due to Multiple Sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years. Beloved by television viewers in the 50s for her stint on Disney's original The Mickey Mouse Club, and by film buffs for her numerous roles in a series of popular teen-oriented movies in the 60s, Funicello became a pop culture icon (http://annetteconnection.com/2013-News.php)."

When I read the above words, something in me changed today. I'm a child of the 1980s and 1990s, but during my childhood classic children's programming of the 1950s and '60s was readily available on Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and even aired regularly on network television. As a result, I grew up with Annette. I remember watching her in the original "Mickey Mouse Club," in episodes of "Zorro," her Disney films, her Beach Party movies...and being able to connect with my parents, aunts, and uncles who enjoyed her work as much as I did.

Annette's on-screen persona, from what I read, was exactly what she was like in real-life - kind, innocent, gracious, loving. I never met her, but I felt that I knew her. And I always wondered how great it must have been to know and actually work for Walt Disney, to be actually there at Disneyland when it first opened back in July 1955. She did what so many kids - before and since - have dreamed of; there's something of perpetual childhood, fun, and innocence in everything she did.

Now, I feel like I've grown-up a little more, as another bit of my childhood is now gone. She suffered for a long time, and I know she's in a better world right now. And the world she is leaving behind is a little bit better by the contributions she made in her life.

In memory of Annette, if anyone would like to donate to the Neurological Fund she established to help with research and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, the link can be found here: http://annetteconnection.com/Donor-Recognition.php.

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies,

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes

Thus mellow’d to that tender light

Which Heaven to gaudy Day denies.
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