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Disney saw her crossover marketing potential and made her a pop star with bouncy tunes like “Pineapple Princess,” “First Name Initial” and “O Dio Mio.” “She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars,” Disney CEO Robert Iger said in a statement Monday.

“She delighted a generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent.” She starred in several Disney serials, including “Spin and Marty,” and in 1963 she signed with American International Pictures for a string of low-budget but surprisingly memorable “beach movies” with fellow teen idol Frankie Avalon.

Disney, who happened to be in the audience, was more interested in amateur child actors than professionals He personally chose the raven-haired 12-year for his new children's television variety show, The Mickey Mouse Club.

Annette was hired immediately and was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers to be chosen for the first season of the series which debuted on October 3, 1955.

She was diagnosed with MS in 1987, but didn’t reveal it until 1992.Joseph Funicello and his wife Virginia Joanne (nee Albano).She was spoiled as a child, being the first grandchild on both sides of the family.Also, I'm happy to say I'll be presenting awards in two categories (Entertainment and Games & Hobbies) with emcee Jason Bryant (Mat Talk Online). Annette Funicello, the most beloved of the early Walt Disney Mouseketeers and a pioneer teen star, died Monday at a hospital in Bakersfield, Calif. She spent more than two decades in a brave battle against crippling multiple sclerosis and reportedly had been in a coma for several years. Personally selected by Disney to join the original “Mickey Mouse Club” in 1955, Funicello became one of the show’s first breakout stars — in part, she admitted with some amusement 40 years later, because she was more developed than many of her colleagues.