On Monday afternoon, original Mouseketeer and Disney Legend Annette Funicello, who passed away earlier this year, was memorialized during a private ceremony held at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. As part of the occasion, which brought together Annette’s surviving family members as well as many of her previous co-workers, Soundstage One — where ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ was filmed — was dedicated to her memory.
In attendance were fellow: Mouseketeers Bobby Burgess, Doreen Tracey, Tommy Cole, Lonnie Burr, Sherry Alberoni, Cubby O’Brien, Sharon Baird and Darlene Gillespie; ‘Spin & Marty’ co-stars Tim Considine and David Stollery; theatrical co-star Frankie Avalon; and songwriter Richard Sherman of The Sherman Brothers who referred to Annette as their ‘lucky star,’ crediting her for bringing them to the attention of Walt Disney.
The ceremony began with an introduction by Walt Disney Company Chairmand and CEO, Bob Iger. ‘We are remembering and celebrating of the life and legacy of the incomparable Annette Funicello — America’s sweetheart, Disney Legend and extraordinary person both on and off the screen,’ Iger said addressing those in attendance.
He continued: ‘Annette first became a member of the Disney family, right here on Stage 1 as part of the ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ as so many of you know. It’s where the world first met her and where we all fell in love with the talented girl with that incredible winning smile. Annette was actually my very first crush and I remember it as love at first sight (at least on my part) and I was faithful and never missed one of her movies. When she was on television, well I was right there at home watching every show. What can I say, she was gorgeous and I was smitten just like every other boy at the time. Annette was Walt’s brightest star and a cherished part of the Disney family who was loved by millions and from this day forward, her place in our hearts and our history will be marked forever right here on this stage where it all began when she put on those famous ears and became a Mousketeer.’
Iger was followed by original Mouseketeer Bobby Burgess, then by Annette’s attending family. Daughter Gina Gillardi accepted the honor on her family’s behalf, stating ‘It’s an honor for us to have all of our family and friends here, everybody who was involved in Mom’s life, the Mousketeers, her dear friends, everybody. Can’t say enough thank yous and behalf of all, we love you all and thank you for this dedication.’
The ceremony concluded with a rendition of ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ performed by the D23 choir.
Below is our gallery of photos from the event. Click on any of the thumbails to see a larger version.
All photos by Kelly Noble for Stitch Kingdom. All rights reserved.