Yesterday, in a small ceremony inside the Walt Disney Studios, Soundstage 1 was rededicated as the Annette Funicello Stage. Arguably the most popular Mouskateer, Annette commanded a sizable crowd of fellow Mousketeers, Disney dignitaries, studio staff, and executives.
Prior to the ceremony, everyone from Franky Avalon to Richard Sherman were sharing their memories of working with this remarkable performer. When asked to recall Annette, each person preceded their first words with a warm smile that betrayed a flash of fond memories that were running through their minds.
One of the most touching stories was related by Richard Sherman. He recalled, “My brother and I always called Annette our lucky star. She always turned something into a hit.” Sherman related that of all the young folks that they had the pleasure to work with, Annette was remarkable in her professionalism and willingness to perfect a song and a performance. “No matter how many takes it took,” he said, “She would always be happy to try another.” We asked Mr. Sherman, despite being a mentor to Annette, if he had learned anything from her. He thought for a moment and said, “She was always humble, never in a hurry to finish, and always took the time to perfect what she was doing. Humility, patience, and getting it right.”
The ceremony began with Walt Disney Company CEO, Bob Iger taking the stage and giving the history and significance of the soundstage behind him. The original shooting stage for the Mickey Mouse Club, Soundstage 1 served as the birthplace of Annette Funicello’s career and touched the lives of of so many of America’s youth.
Bobby then took the stage and shared his recollections of shooting the iconic television show in the building behind him. He was also joined by a mouse you may have heard of.
Then the big moment came and her sign was revealed.
The ceremony was concluded, though many lingered and continued to chat, to remember their friend and how she touched their lives and their hearts.
And with that, the VIP’s dispersed to another location, the press scattered and the crew began the work of breaking down the setup for the ceremony. A lilting breeze blew and the leaves on the nearby ficus trees dance. Annette’s presence could be felt long after the ceremony had ended. But really, she had been there all along.