Former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello Dies at 70

by | April 8, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Celebrity Deaths, TV News

Annette Funicello in 1960 (Photo: Henry Gris/FPG/Getty Images)

Actress Annette Funicello died Monday after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. She was 70.

Funicello got her start in showbiz at the age of 12 as one of the original Mouseketeers on Disney’s “The Mickey Mouse Club.” She went on to co-star with Frankie Avalon in a series of popular 1950′s and 1960′s teen beach movies, such as “Beach Blanket Bingo.”

Funicello announced publicly she had MS in 1992; she was first diagnosed with the disease in 1987. She lost her ability to walk in 2004 and her ability to speak in 2009, and had been in a coma when she passed away, according to “Extra.”

The Walt Disney Co. confirmed Funicello’s death Monday in a statement:

“Actress Annette Funicello, long-time Disney and Beach Party star, passed away on Monday April 8 at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, CA, at the age of 70. She died peacefully from complications due to Multiple Sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years. Beloved by television viewers in the 50s for her stint on Disney’s original The Mickey Mouse Club, and by film buffs for her numerous roles in a series of popular teen-oriented movies in the 60s, Funicello became a pop culture icon.”

Annette Funicello Shares Her MS Revelations: