Walt Disney Studios Dedicates Soundstage to Annette Funicello

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Breaking News, Disney, Disney News

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Published on June 25, 2013 at 4:00 am with 17 Comments

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.

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Bobby, Sharon, and Cubby pose prior to the ceremony.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Finally, the surviving members of Annette’s family took place on the stage as Iger presented a replica of the plaque that would be mounted on the exterior of the soundstage.

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Mickey Mouse stands with one of Annette’s grandchildren.

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Annette’s daughter, Gina, thanked all in attendance on behalf of her mother for the wonderful honor.

Then the big moment came and her sign was revealed.

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A choir suddenly appeared and sang an ethereal rendition of When You Wish Upon A Star.

The ceremony was concluded, though many lingered and continued to chat, to remember their friend and how she touched their lives and their hearts.

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Frankie Avalon and Richard Sherman

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.

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About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • Jungle Trekkie

    Thanks for the report. It sounds like it was a very moving event for a special person.

    The report is beautifully written and really makes me feel like I was there.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    Norm, thank you so much for the lovely coverage of the soundstage rededication. It was a very touching gesture for Stage 1 to be renamed in honor of Annette. I saw lots of smiles in your pictures, she really touched a lot of hearts.

    This wasn’t something Disney had to do, but it’s a wonderful thing that they did!

    • DobbysCloset

      With total respect, Mr. Sage, Disney did have to do it, to continue receiving my respect. Remembering what made Walt happy is key to keeping his Magic alive. (And making money off re-marketing Mouskateer memorabilia would make Roy happy…, don’t you think?)

  • Larry Parker

    The day I saw on the internet that Annette had died is about the only time I recall breaking down at my computer.

  • Larry Parker

    I, like millions, loved Annette.

  • Bob Gurr

    Thanks much for a peek at a small almost private family ceremony on our beloved Walt Disney Productions lot. While designing Autopia cars, Omnibus and such for Disneyland in a building next to Stage One back in those early days, I could see every day that Annette was very visible as the Star on the lot. We had a cute little red schoolhouse next to the Stage where the Mouseketeers studied between takes. So touching to see that she is named a permanent visible part of Her Studio.

  • Wanda Woman

    What a wonderful way to start the day. Beautiful story, Norm. Thank you.

    Good on ye, Disney Studios.

  • LoveStallion

    Great gesture by Disney. Thanks for covering it.

  • JulieMouse

    I’m so glad to see them give her this honor. She was true Disney Legend, a class act, and a professional, she really embodied the Disney spirit. Thanks for bringing us in on the dedication ceremony and the memories of friends.

  • Gregg Condon

    Very nicely written Norm. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wendygirl

    What a wonderful ceremony and gesture on Disneys part. I felt like I was there – thanks so much. Frankly, I’m all choked up right now.

  • DobbysCloset

    I’m actually really happy reading your story because I think this is the first step for reminding us of what it meant to be a Mouskateer so long ago when we were young and wholesome. I am looking forward to other celebrations of Annette’s gift to us, when she was the girl we wanted to grow up to be.

  • PurpleDove

    Nice job on this event Norm!! Thanks for sharing

  • JiminyCricketFan

    That is a beautiful way of honoring a beautiful person.

  • bayouguy

    Nicely done, Disney.

  • DG2

    This event once again proves what a fantastic organization Disney is. It’s one thing for Disney brass to green light this but for CEO Bob Igar to be there and personally making the dedication, that is a powerful statement !