RIP Annette Funicello, queen of beach party films
05:00 AM, Apr 09, 2013
Yesterday I neglected to mention the sad passing of Annette Funicello, who died from complications of multiple sclerosis.
Many sites have noted Funicello was a legendary Mouseketeer, but she solidified her status as a pop-culture icon with the popular beach party films in the ’60s.
The most recognizable beach party flick, Beach Blanket Bingo, was released in 1965, and it’s still pretty entertaining to watch. Today, I urge you to take another look at the movie’s first few minutes, which feature a singing, dancing Funicello with her frequent co-star, Frankie Avalon. And don’t forget the amazing cameos in this one from Buster Keaton, Paul Lynde and Don Rickles:
Yes, Funicello’s moves were pretty sweet; she starred in six classic beach party flicks and cameoed in a few more.
And though her image was squeaky-clean, many of us who grew up in the ’80s will recall her role in 1987’s cult classic Back to the Beach. That marked the performer’s last major acting role, and it was the only time she shared the screen with Fishbone and Pee-wee Herman:
Turner Classic Movies airs Beach Blanket Bingo April 21. On May 20 TCM airs another cult classic Funicello appeared in, 1965’s awesome spy parody Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. (That movie contains one of my all-time fave opening-credit sequences!)
Few actresses laughed and partied more onscreen than Funicello. She left an indelible, cheerful mark on pop culture and will certainly be missed.