Disney child star Annette Funicello dies at age 70

Actress Annette Funicello poses with Disney characters "Minnie Mouse " (L) and "Mickey Mouse" during a VIP reception February 15, 1997 prior to a benefit dinner hosted by the charity organization "Women in Show Business...for children", which honored the actress.  Credit: Reuters
Actress Annette Funicello poses with Disney characters Minnie and Mickey Mouse during a VIP reception Feb. 15, 1997 prior to a benefit dinner.
Credit: Reuters

Annette Funicello, star of Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Club” television program in the 1950s, has died, Disney said Monday.

“We’re sorry to report beloved Disney Mouseketeer and iconic teen star Annette Funicello has passed away at age 70,” the Walt Disney TV and movie studio said on its official fan club’s Twitter account.

Her family told television program “Extra” that Funicello died in a Bakersfield, Calif., hospital while in a coma due to suffering from multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed in 1987. It was not immediately clear when she died.

Funicello was America’s peaches-and-cream girl, portraying the innocence of the 1950s and 1960s, first as a Disney Mouseketeer and then as the star of a series of beach movies.

But in later life, she was remembered for what many say was her greatest role: a valiant fight against multiple sclerosis, a crippling disease of the nervous system which reduced the once perky and vivacious singer and actress to depend progressively on a cane, a walker and finally a wheelchair.


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