I think that I'm in no small company to admit that I, like a lot of boys of my generation, developed my first crush on her as the most captivating of all of the Mouseketeers: "Annette"! Yes, she was my first crush, and now the news of her recent demise has produced yet another crush of a very different nature -- both events of which have impacted my life pretty significantly, but at polar ends of the age spectrum!
Like "Garbo" before her, she didn't need the extra baggage of a 2nd name, as there was no other personage who could possibly be summoned to a young man's consciousness of that era than she, at the mention of that magical given name! No less a visionary (and marketing genius) than Walt Disney recognized this and seized upon it, always billing her simply and sweetly as "Annette" (you knew who he was talking about -- and Uncle Walt knew that you knew!). It was only later at AIP when the usually canny marketing geniuses Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson felt compelled to somewhat hamfistedly tack on her surname, Funicello. I guess we can all just be thankful they refrained from billing her as "I Was a Teenage Annette"!
Reflecting on her indelible impact upon pop culture during her Beach Party period, Bijou Bob 8mm Statzer is on record as saying and, I think, most profoundly:
"You know, while the AIP beach movies may not have ever been to everyone's taste, if you saw them at the right age (be it at the drive-in or on TV), there was a certain comfortable charm to them. They may not have reflected reality, but it was kind of the way you hoped your teen years might be. (No satellite TV, no Internet -- what else was there but bikinis, bands and the beach?)
To dear Annette, we bid you adieu -- and we find the words of the Mickey Mouse song to be very appropos:
Now it's time to say goodbye
to all our comp-an-y...
M- I - C... ( "C" ya real soon!... )
K - E - Y... ("Y"? Because we like you! )
M - O - U - S - E!