Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Farewell, Mouseketeer


Annette 4-9-13

 Yesterday, the television world lost an icon.  I can’t say that Annette Funicello had the same impact on me as she did on those of earlier generations—The Mickey Mouse Club came and went before my time—but it still feels like a loss. 

  While I might not have been able to watch her in her mouse ears, I did grow up watching her beach movies. In television reruns on Saturday afternoons, sure, but I watched them just the same.  She and Frankie Avalon were the perfect couple, as far as I was concerned.

And, of course, I’d see her on peanut butter commercials and talk shows all through the 70s and 80s.  I always thought she was a perfectly charming lady, and I always understood that she was a treasure for many thousands of people.

Once she began publicly discussing her diagnosis of MS, I really gained a new level of respect for her.  My mother’s second husband (or my first step-dad, however you want to look at that) suffered from the disease, so I had some idea of the way it could disrupt lives and tear families apart.  Not to mention just how terribly scary it could be.  But she seemed to handle it all with such grace, not complaining or feeling that someone of her station should somehow be exempt from such tragedies.  She just set about opening up a foundation and trying to raise money to find a cure.  I think there’s a lot to admire in that.

So, yes, she was an icon who belonged more to my mother’s generation than mine, but I still felt a wave of sadness when I learned of her passing.  Somehow, I think the world lost a bit of brightness, and I’m not always sure that sort of brightness can be replaced.

If you’d like to hear the NPR remembrance, you can listen here.