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In 1959 Annette was appearing in one of the most popular programs on television and on her way to success in the music industry.  With her career flourishing, it's little surprise her next step would be onto the big screen.  On March 19, 1959 Annette Funicello made her motion picture debut in Walt Disney’s first live action comedy, The Shaggy Dog.  The film was a great success and is considered to be one of Walt Disney’s live action classics today. Following The Shaggy Dog Annette went on to star as Mary Quite Contrary in Walt Disney’s first musical, Babes in Toyland and as Jennifer in The Misadventures of Merlin Jones and its sequel The Monkeys Uncle.  Annette was credited in the Haley Mills classic The Parent Trap, for singing the title song during the opening credits with Tommy Sands and “Lets Get Together” during the camp dance scene in the movie.  In addition, a few films Annette starred in that were made for and only shown on Television in the US such as The Horsemasters, Six Gun Law and Escapade in Florence were released theatrically in other countries.


In 1963 Annette was loaned out to American International for ten movies.  She starred in her first non Disney film, Beach Party with her long time friend Frankie Avalon.  This campy comedy put a spin on the traditional musical with dialogue and songs directly inspired by the humor and musical tastes of teens at the time.  The movie was a great success and spawned the four other films in the classic “Beach Party” series.  Other studios attempted to duplicate the success of this new popular trend in teenage entertainment with little success resulting in Annette and Frankie becoming known as the “King and Queen of the Beach”.  While working with American International Pictures Annette also starred in Pajama Party and two racing films: Fireball 500 and Thunder Alley.  She made cameo appearances in Ski Party and Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.  In 1968 she played Davy Jones’ girlfriend in the Monkees film HEAD before retiring from the big screen for two decades.
In 1987 Annette made her return to feature films with Frankie Avalon in Back to the Beach. This film was inspired by, but not meant to be a sequel to their classic beach films from the 60’s.  With Annette and Frankie as its executive producers, it opened with great reviews and was a box office success.  Although Annette was back on top and other film projects were in the pipeline, the effects of Multiple Sclerosis would unfortunately prevent Annette from making a return to the big screen.  While disappointing, this final feature film release gave those of her generation a chance to reacquaint with their old screen friends and successfully introduced the grown up Annette Funicello to a new generation.  It also contributed to opening doors that would benefit Annette's entertainment and business career for decades to come.



ANNETTECONNECTION.COM is the official website of Annette Funicello and The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases.