Dick Clark was known as America’s Oldest Teenager, but in truth that title belonged to Annette Funicello. A former Mouseketeer who matured into a pop star and teen idol, she was known for her string of 1960s beach blanket movies. Her wholesome image and bikini-clad figure helped popularize California surf culture in the rest of the country and made her a matinee queen.
In 1987 at age 45, looking as pert and cheerful as ever, Funicello riffed on her past success and her lingering image in Back to the Beach. There she is in a flirty, polka-dot sundress singing and gamely attempting to skank. “Not many people can do the Cha Cha Cha. Not everybody can do the twist. But everybody can do the Jamaica Ska. It’s a new dance you can’t resist.”
Annette Funicello passed away today at the age of 70 from complications of multiple sclerosis. May she ride the great wave into the sky.