Born in 1942, American-Italian Annette Funicello began her professional career at the tender age of twelve years old, as among the first generation of Walt Disney’s Mouseketeers. Funicello was among the most popular faces of the Mickey Mouse Club when it first aired on national television from 1955 until 1959. As a Mouseketeer, she received the most amount of fan mail as Americans really took to the young star, seeming to love everything about her when it came to acting and singing.
Beach Party Idol
When the finale of the first generation of the Mickey Mouse Club approached, Funicello transitioned from one of America’s most beloved Mouseketeer to becoming one of the most recognized names that are responsible for popularizing the Beach Party era during the mid-1960s. She, alongside fellow teen heartthrob during this era, Frankie Avalon, dominated Hollywood through a series of movies, all related to the original 1963 box office hit “Beach Party” she and Avalon first starred together. Once the movie fans began to lose interest in the collection of beach-related films, American International Pictures steered Funicello’s acting and singing career direction towards movie themes related to stock car racing.
Time to Grow Up
After enjoying a prolific career in the fast-paced world of show business from the mid-1950s until the early 1970s, Funicello opted to slow down and start a family. While she still made guest appearances, it wasn’t until 1979 she’d become more involved with Hollywood again. In 1992, the public announcement of Annette Funicello’s multiple sclerosis put an end to growing rumors revolving around what had become a more noticeable decline in the star’s overall health. By 2004, she lost her ability to walk, which was followed by her inability to speak as of 2009. From 2009 until 2013, Funicello required 24/7 care as her medical condition literally crippled the woman to death.
In 1992, the Disney Legend Awards inducted Annette Funicello into its Hall of Fame. At the Disneyland theme park in Paris, France, their Disney Village features a 1950s-themed diner named Annette’s Diner as a means to honor one of the franchise’s most beloved stars of all time. Also, located at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard, one can find Annette Funicello’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Top 10 Annette Funicello Songs
#10 – Talk to Me Baby
This slow, melodic performance by Annette Funicello, along with her backup group, The Afterbeats, barely squeaked into the pop charts after it was released in 1960. “Talk to Me Baby” is among many songs produced that show the credits as Annette With The Afterbeats near the earliest years of her singing career. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song peaked at ninety-two while on the Cash Box chart at ninety-eight. The song was composed by the great Paul Anka.
#9 – Dream Boy
Annette Funicello’s performance of “Dream Boys” is featured in the video “Florence In Florence,” which was aired in 1962. It’s interesting to hear the high pitched sounds pop sound with that Italian groove. It was one of the reasons she had so many fans. The song charted at eighty-seven on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. However, the performance in 1962, is with her fellow castmates while the 1961 version is performed with her backup group, The Afterbeats.
#8 – My Heart Became of Age
At number eight on our Annette Funicello Songs list we present the sweet sounding tune “My Heart Became Of Age.” You can’t help but believe every word she sings in that sweet sounding innocent voice that is presented on this song. The sax is a little heavy but the backing vocals keep the sugar flowing. According to the fans of Funicello, “My Heart Became of Age” is among her best of all time, despite the fact it was not released as a single in 1959 like her other five songs were. On the radio stations that specialize in playing the classic oldies of the 1950s and 1960s, this is among Funicello’s songs that have frequently been requested by her fans.
#7 – Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy
The 1959 novelty song, “Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy,” is in reference to Russian sideshow entertainer, Fedor Jeftichew, who had to contend with hypertrichosis. It is a condition where an excessive amount of hair is grown on the body, which can be all over or isolated to specific areas. Although the song did chart on the US Billboard Hot 100, it only managed to peak as high as seventy-three. It did better with the US Cash Box chart at fifty-nine.
#6 – Lonely Guitar
The year 1959 was Annette Funicello’s most prolific as a singer as one song after another (5 in total) hit radio’s airwaves across America. “Lonely Guitar” is among them, which charted as high as fifty with the US Billboard Hot 100 and at fifty-one with US Cash Box. This slow, enchanting performance by Funicello casts a spell that is just so charming and at the same time a bit haunting. Thats Guy Williams in the video. We liked him better as John in Lost In Space. Best tv show ever!
#5 – Train Of Love
This one reminds me of David Lee Roth’s “Just A Gigolo,” at least in the bass line. The song “Train Of Love” peaked at thirty-six on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1960, as well as number forty-seven on the US Cash Box chart. This song is officially credited as a performance by Annette With The Afterbeats, one of many early in Funicello’s singing career just after her days as a Mouseketeer had ended.
#4 – First Name Initial
On the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, “First Name Initial,” peaked at number twenty in 1959 and at sixteen with the US Cash Box chart. This song is featured on her album “The Story of My Teens.” This one has a very similar opening line as the legendary song “Splish Splash.” So many of the songs from the 50s were.very similar. You can hear that Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was probably listening to this one.
#3 – Pineapple Princess
On Funicello’s 1960 album, “Hawaiiannette,” the hit single titled “Pineapple Princess” climbed as high as eleventh on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as fifteenth on the US Cash Box chart. The popularity and appeal of the song were enough for it to be covered a few times over, most notably by the novelty music duo, Barnes & Barnes, for their 1986 album, “Sicks.”
#2 – O Dio Mio
Hey look theres Dick Clark! It’s fun watching these old videos where the singers lip synched and their voices sounded so orchestrated complete with harmonies surrounding the sound stage. This was a big hit for Annette Funicello. “O Dio Mio” was one of two songs performed by Annette Funicello that cracked into the top ten of the US Billboard Hot 100 music chart as it peaked in tenth place in 1960. It peaked at thirteen on the US Cash Box music chart.
#1 – Tell Paul
The most successful song performed by Annette Funicello is “Tell Paul,” which was written by the Sherman Brothers. Released in 1959 under the record label Disneyland 118, it peaked at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100 music chart. This would be the first time a female singer would realize a top ten hit in the rock music genre, as well as stand head and shoulders above the rest of her Mouseketeers. The musical writing talent of the Sherman Brothers who wrote for Funicello won Walt Disney’s attention to the point where they were asked to write music for his empire exclusively. For Funicello, “Tell Paul,” was the most successful single she’d ever release throughout her entire run as a singer. This video to us is pretty demeaning to Annette, but I guess they didn’t look at it that way back then.