DEAR JERRY: As a young girl in the mid-'50s, I spent many an afternoon after school watching the Mickey Mouse Club. As so many others my age, I just adored Annette Funicello my favorite Mousketeer.
I realize that Annette has been battling MS in recent years, and my heart goes out to her.
There are a couple of questions I have, and I'm hoping you can get the answers from her.
1. How did she get discovered by the Disney organization for a part in the Mickey Mouse Club?
2. Are there any things she did or decisions she made that she would now do differently, career-wise?
I will be absolutely thrilled if you are able to obtain a response.
Christine Falkenberg, Decatur, Ala.
DEAR CHRISTINE: There is a legion of Annette fans, including this writer, who wish for her the very best life has to offer.
Annette graciously provided personally handwritten answers to those questions, along with some others that you didn't ask but other folks have in the past.
Here is what this very sweet lady has to say regarding a number of random topics: About getting discovered:
“Mr. Walt Disney saw me dancing in a school recital and asked me to audition [for the Mickey Mouse Club]. I was told they saw over 10,000 kids, and I was the last one chosen the 24th Mousketeer.”
What decisions she regrets:
“I'm sorry I never took singing lessons when I was younger, which would have helped my confidence today. I also turned down a chance to interview for the role of Patsy Cline in 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' once again lacking the confidence to play a singer.” (The part of Patsy Cline went to Beverly D'Angelo.) As to Annette and Anka once being a Hollywood item:
“Frankie Avalon's manager at the time told me Paul Anka wanted to meet me and set up a dinner party. I didn't like him at first, but our friendship grew as did our crush for many years.”
Her favorite entertainers are:
“I have never given up on rock and roll. I loved Ray Price and was also a fan of country music growing up. Other favorites are Merle Haggard and Alabama [from your state, Christine]. I always adored Liz Taylor, Natalie Wood, James Dean, Sandra Dee, and Audrey Hepburn. Also, Steve Lawrence, and my good friend, the late Nat King Cole.”
What does Annette like to do, or collect, now:
“I love to needlepoint, read and shop. I collect earrings and 'Gone with the Wind' plates. That is my favorite film of all time. The role of Miss Scarlet is one I would loved to have played.”
Finally, the questions most asked of Annette:
1. “Where are your Mouse ears? 2. Do you really like Skippy Peanut Butter?”
IZ ZAT SO? In 1960, Paul wrote, and recorded, “Puppy Love” (ABC-Paramount 10082) with Annette in mind. At almost the exact same time, Paul wrote and produced “Who's Our Pet, Annette” (ABC-Paramount 10089). This little tribute to
Paul's heartthrob is credited to Junior and His Friends; however, “Junior” is Paul's younger brother.
And before you ask, Annette's first hit, “Tall Paul,” has absolutely nothing to do with the diminutive Mr. Anka.