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Arts and Entertainment

Mouseketeer and Movie Star Annette Funicello Has Died

Actress Annette Funicello, circa 1960. (Photo by Henry Gris/FPG/Getty Images)
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Actress and founding member of the iconic Mouseketeers Annette Funicello has died. She was 70.

Extra reports "Funicello died from complications of multiple sclerosis," noting that several members of her family "were by her side when she was taken off life support. Funicello had been in an MS coma for years."

The petite brunette who could sing, dance, and act, and got into showbiz as a pre-teen. Calling Los Angeles home since the age of four, as legend has it Funicello was discovered by Walt Disney himself during a dance recital at Burbank's outdoor Starlight Bowl, and hand-picked to be one of the first members of the beloved Mickey Mouse Club and a founding Mouseketeer.

Funicello grew up from the small screen and Disney to a recording career with pop hits, and fame in the "Beach Party" series of films in which she was paired with Frankie Avalon. The duo reunited in 1987 for the parody flick "Back to the Beach."

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A few years later, in 1992, Funicello revealed she suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, an illness she battled bravely and often with her trademark pluck and grin. In 2011, a fire damaged the wheelchair-bound Funicello's Encino home, damaging some of the memorabilia stored within the structure.

Funicello had three children with her first husband, Jack Gilardi, and had been remarried to Glen Holt since 1986.