Annette Funicello

Annette Funicello was 13 years old when she was discovered by studio head Walt Disney dancing in an amateur production of Swan Lake in Fullerton, California. Much to the enmity of her Mickey Mouse Club co-stars, Funicello joined the cast late in the show's first season and was not required to audition. However, Disney's impulses proved correct, as she swiftly became the most popular performer on The Mickey Mouse Club and featured in her own storyline, Adventures in Dairyland. Soon it was obvious that Funicello needed to make records in order to exploit her potential as a teen star, and while Annette wasn't very enthusiastic about her ability to sing, Disney engaged established arranger Tutti Camerata to pilot her career as a recording artist. Funicello's first record, "Tall Paul," peaked at number seven on the Billboard pop charts and spent nine weeks there; it would prove the highest chart position she would enjoy. Nevertheless, Funicello's enormous audience base -- mostly teen girls -- was enough to support her through 12 albums released through 1965, all but the first appearing on the Buena Vista label, a record company begun by Walt Disney so that Funicello's records need not appear on the Disneyland imprint.