Annette Funicello Dies at Age 70

Actress and former Mousketeer Annette Funicello died today from complications of Multiple Sclerosis. She was 70 years old.

The news first broke online via D23, who announced via Twitter: "We're sorry to report beloved Disney Mouseketeer and iconic teen star Annette Funicello has passed away at age 70." Funicello's family later confirmed that the star died, surrounded by family after she was removed from life support.

Funicello became a member of the original Mickey Mouse Club when she was 12 years old. After leaving the clubhouse, she went on to star in a number of teen beach movies in the 1960s, cementing her role as America's sweetheart and a pop icon. She also appeared in the Disney films "The Shaggy Dog," "Babes in Toyland," "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones," and 'The Monkey's Uncle."

Funicello was diagnosed with MS in 1987 and after going public with the disease went on to start The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases. The nonprofit provides grant funding for research into the cause, cure, and treatment of MS and other neurological diseases.

In a statement released today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said

Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney's brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent.

Annette Funicello was named a Disney Legend in 1992 on her 50th birthday. Along with Disney fans around the world we at Walt Disney World for Grownups mourn the loss of her beautiful soul and offer our deepest sympathies to her family.

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