TONIGHT: CTV’s W5 offers “Annette’s Story”

Annette Funicello was one of the biggest stars on television back in the mid-’50s. As the main attraction on The Mickey Mouse Club, the original Mouseketeer was much more than just the Justin Beiber of her day, a child star kids wanted to know, be like, grow up and marry. Parents adored her too.
Funicello went on to a surprising recording career as well as a string of popular “Beach Blanket” movies. Around 20 years ago, she revealed she had been stricken with Multiple Sclerosis and has been living in seclusion in California with husband Glen Holt ever since.
CTV’s W5 offers a rare glimpse (they’re billing it as a “world exclusive”) into Funicello’s world Saturday night with “Annette’s Story” (7 p.m. ET). Medical reporter Avis Favaro goes to Funicello’s home and learns about an experimental  new procedure that may give Funicello and other Multiple Sclerosis sufferers hope.
I had the privilege of visiting Funicello in the mid-’90s at her home, shortly after her book “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” came out. My Disney friend Lorraine Santoli–author of “The Official Mickey Mouse Club Book” and instrumental in setting the W5 interview up–provided that opportunity.
Funicello turns 70 later this month. She was still fairly mobile and spirited–a delight, really–when I visited all those years ago, full  of stories about Walk Disney and very self effacing when it came to her own career. Holt has cared for her all these years and does most of the talking tonight. Kudos to W5 for seeking out this early TV icon and helping to spread the word about new initiatives in the fight against MS.

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