‘Mickey Mouse Club’ original Annette Funicello dies

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by Todd Leopold

(CNN) — Annette Funicello, one of the best-known members of the original 1950s “Mickey Mouse Club” and a star of numerous 1960s “beach party” films, has died, the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases Inc. posted on Facebook.

She was 70.

Funicello was just 12 when she was selected by Walt Disney himself to be one of the original Mouseketeers of the “Mickey Mouse Club,” the 1950s television variety show aimed at children. Funicello, who had a background in dance, quickly became one of the most popular Mouseketeers.

In a statement, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co. Bob Iger said Annette Funicello, who died Monday, “was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend.” The statement continues: “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.”

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