Saturday, May 14, 2011

Annette Funicello Biography on Wikipedia

Annette Joanne Funicello (born October 22, 1942) is an American singer and actress. She was Walt Disney's most popular cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club,[1] and went on to appear in a series of beach party films.

Biography and career

Early life and early stardom

Annette Joanne Funicello was born in Utica, New York to Italian-Americans Joseph and Virginia Funicello. Her family moved to Southern California when she was four years old.[2] Funicello took dancing and music lessons as a child to overcome shyness. In 1955, the 12-year-old was discovered by Walt Disney when she performed as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at a dance recital in Burbank, California. Disney cast her as one of the original "Mouseketeers". She was the last to be selected, and the only one personally picked by Walt Disney himself. She proved to be very popular and by the end of the first season of Mickey Mouse Club, she was receiving 6,000 letters a month, according to her Disney Legends biography.

In addition to appearing in many Mouseketeer sketches and dance routines, Funicello starred in several serials on The Mickey Mouse Club. These included Adventure in Dairyland, Walt Disney Presents: Annette (which co-starred Richard Deacon), and the second and third Spin and Marty serials - The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty. In a hayride scene in the Annette serial she performed the song that launched her singing career. The studio received so much mail about "How Will I Know My Love" (written by the Sherman Brothers), that Walt Disney issued it as a single, and gave Funicello (somewhat unwillingly) a recording contract.

Actress and singer

After the Mickey Mouse Club she remained under contract with Disney for a time, with television roles in Zorro, Elfego Baca and The Horsemasters. For Zorro she played Anita Cabrillo in a three-episode storyline about a teen-aged girl who arrives in Los Angeles to visit a father who does not seem to exist. This role was reportedly a birthday present from Walt Disney, and the first of two different characters played opposite Guy Williams as Zorro. Annette also co-starred in Disney-produced movies such as The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Monkey's Uncle.[4]

Although uncomfortable being thought of as a singer, Annette had a number of pop record hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly written by the Sherman Brothers and including: "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," "O Dio Mio," "Train of Love" (written by Paul Anka) and "Pineapple Princess." They were released by Disney's Buena Vista label. Annette also recorded "It's Really Love" in 1959, a reworking of an earlier Paul Anka song called "Toot Sweet"; Anka reworked the song for a third time in 1962 as "Johnny's Theme" and it opened The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on television for the next three decades. In an episode of the Disney anthology television series titled "Disneyland After Dark," Annette can be seen singing live at Disneyland. Walt Disney was reportedly a fan of 1950s pop star Teresa Brewer and tried to pattern Annette's singing in the same style. However, Funicello credits "the Annette sound" to her record producer, Tutti Camarata, who worked for Disney in that era. Camarata had her double-track her vocals, matching her first track as closely as possible on the second recording to achieve a fuller sound than her voice would otherwise produce. Early in her career, she appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood.



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