The actress Annette Funicello, who for a time was hugely well known as a child performer on the original Mickey Mouse Club – acting as a predecessor for the likes of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, no less – has died aged today aged 70 (April 8, 2013).
According to Extra, it was confirmed by her family that the star had died from complications of multiple sclerosis. The actress had been in an MS-induced coma for years, and her family were reportedly apparently by her side at a Bakersfield hospital when she was taken off life support. In a statement, her daughter, Gina Gilardi, said, "She's on her toes dancing in heaven... no more MS. My brothers and I were there, holding her sweet hands when she left us."
At just 12 years old Funicello was an original Mouseketeer which proved the foundation for a singing career that took in hits like ‘Tall Paul’ and ‘Pineapple Princess.’ Her next prominent career move came when starring in a series of ‘beach party’ movies alongside the actor Frankie Avalon in the 1960’s. However sadly Funicello’s life deteriorated in her later years and in 1992 she revealed she was suffering from MS. She lost the ability to walk in 2004 and to speak in 2009. She married twice and had three children, with first husband Jack Gilardi.