Annette Funicello, the former Mouseketeer who gained fame during the 1960s with a series of Beach Party films with fellow co-star and heartthrob of the era singer Frankie Avalon, died today after complications from multiple sclerosis, according to USA Today. She was 70 years old.
Funicello was part of the very first wave of kids who got their start in the acting profession on The Mickey Mouse Club, a program that has run in various incarnations for decades since its premiere in the 1950s, and has also showcased the starts of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling. After that program, the child actress became a sort of symbol and icon for teenagers across the country with the various versions of the Beach Party films, innocuous vehicles which focused on teenagers in idyllic, light comedic situations, in which song and dance numbers punctuated the somewhat pedestrian narratives. In an early 1960s that was just on the crest of becoming a radical, rebellious decade, filled with unrest and political, social and artistic changes, Funicelloâ€™s Beach Party movies represented the tail end of the harmless on the surface, light hearted, safe haven of the 1950s and how teenagers were mainly represented and viewed by the public.
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