Mickey Mouse club star Annette Funicello, who was beloved in her generation as one of Disney’s first big stars, has died at the age of 70.
Annette Funicello’s cause of death has not yet been reported. Currently, all that is known is that Funicello, who came to fame in part on The Mickey Mouse Club show, had suffered from multiple sclerosis in the time before her death.
It has been reported that Funicello had lapsed into a coma before her death, possibly due to her chronic struggles with MS. In the years before her death, the Disney queen also suffered a house fire, one that later led to lawsuits from neighbors who claimed Funicello’s house fire spread and damaged nearby properties.
News of her death broke on Twitter, where a verified Disney account posted about the star’s death, simply tweeting out an image of Annette Funicello and confirmation of her death. (Tweet embedded below.)
Annette Funicello was also one of America’s most iconic teen stars, starting out with Disney like modern day celebs such as Justin Timberlake or Britney Spears before moving on to the big screen in hits like Beach Blanket Bingo and Beach Party. Along with Frankie Avalon, Funicello was a cross-genre icon, breaking out of child stardom to headline films and conquer pop as well with hits like “Pineapple Princess” and “Tall Paul.”
We’re sorry to report beloved Disney Mouseketeer and iconic teen star Annette Funicello has passed away at age 70: twitpic.com/chyte0
— Disney D23 (@DisneyD23) April 8, 2013
Actress Shelley Fabares was Annette Funicello’s best friend and fellow child star, and Fabares spoke of Funicello’s condition back in October, saying:
“There are some people who will think she must be preserved in people’s minds exactly as she was. But exactly who she was is not who she is now. In order to get people to understand the ravages of this disease and what happens…there is no better way.”
Husband Glen said at the time of the decision to finally go public with Annette’s illness:
“We’re going to use Annie’s name, yes. And it’s not going to be used in vain, we’re going to do something with it. I want to touch their hearts so they will go out there and help us raise some money… [I'm] going to continue to fulfill her wish that to help find a cause and a cure.”
Early reports indicate that Annette Funicello’s official cause of death is complications from MS.