Annette. To legions of Mickey Mouse Club fans she was magic. Chosen by Walt himself as an original cast member, Annette soon became the most popular Mousketeer and was given a daily series of her own. Showcased here is the entire fish-out-of-water series, about an innocent girl from the country who moves to the suburbs to live with her well-to-do aunt and uncle. Airing during the third and final season of The Mickey Mouse Club, the 20-episode series was unlike earlier series -- it featured original music including the song that helped launch Annette's music career. Enriching this celebration of Annette are the two complete Mickey Mouse Club episodes that introduced and concluded the series, plus a new tribute to her remarkable career and more. Featuring exclusive introductions by film historian Leonard Maltin, this is a timeless collection from generations past for generations to come.
Annette Funicello was "was the perfect girl next door!" enthuses former teen actress and pal Shelley Fabares in the excellent documentary included in Walt Disney Treasures: The Mickey Mouse Club Presents Annette, 1957-1958. But Annette, TV's first true breakout kid star, was so much more--the Britney/Miley/Lindsay of her day, loved by children as well as their moms and dads. This wonderful boxed set is rich with Disney memories, including 20 Mickey Mouse Club Annette episodes, and extras including the lovely documentary (featuring an interview with the adult, still lovely Funicello, done in the early 1990s) and two complete special MMC episodes focusing on music. There is also an invaluable introduction and ongoing commentary by film historian Leonard Maltin, who gives great context for Funicello's career. She was the only Mouseketeer hand-picked by Walt himself, and her appearance on the show marked a departure for the previously very white-bread medium, as Funicello was "ethnic-looking," her dark Italian features unusual on '50s TV.
This set focuses on episodes when Annette comes to California to stay with her aunt and uncle, and basically does teenager stuff, like hanging out at the malt shop, making plans for the weekend sock hop, and figuring out how to pin on corsages. At one point, Annette's stuffy uncle suggests she attend a school different from one a new pal goes to, and the usually compliant Annette simply has to burst out, "Oh, please, Uncle Archie, can't I go to Old South High, Jet says it's keen!" It's all very quaint and endearing, and a reminder of how winsome the young Annette was, before she became a singing sensation ("Tall Paul") and boogied on the beach with Frankie Avalon in the '60s. Disney and early-television fans will want this sweet--make that keen collection. --A.T. Hurley