Thursday, April 7, 2011

wacky tacky icons: Dance Annette!

I just finished watching The Boys, the documentary about the Sherman Brothers.  I've always known who they were and loved many of their songs but WOW, these guys were incredible.  The exact genesis of their career at the Disney Studios was a bit of mystery to me; it turns out they got their start writing a couple of novelty tunes for Annette Funicello before Walt hired them as full-time composers/lyricists.   I knew that they were the genius behind many of Annette's successful records (I have her complete recordings) but I was under the mistaken notion that "Tall Paul" was specifically about Annette's relationship with Paul Anka.

Anyhow, the reason that I bring any of this up is because I had been toying with the idea of a blog about Annette and, having just watched a film in which Annette played such an integral part, the timing just seemed right.

I have always loved Annette.  Our family was raised on three things: live-action Disney films, the beach movies from American International Pictures and Skippy Peanut Butter.  Moreover, Back to the Beach (the 80's send-up of said beach movies) was a staple in our regularly scheduled programming.  From this movie we partook not only of the entertainment value but also of the depths of its wisdom.  We increased our capacity for understanding the differences and, more importantly, the similarities that unify us as a human race; "Not many people can cha-cha-cha, not everybody can do the twist, but everybody can do the ska" - a valuable life lesson indeed!

Annette + Aunt Becky + Fishbone = riveting entertainment

As interested as I am to find the man who put the "bop" in the "bop-shoo-bop," I am even more interested to find the genius who decided to put the Italian in the ocean!

There is just no denying that heritage!

The combination of Annette's Italian lineage, her bouffant hair-do and the roar of the crashing waves is really what gives Annette her wacky tacky street cred.  Her films further cement her status as an icon of wacky tacky with every viewing.  Her music is nothing to be overlooked either; "Rock-a-Polka," "Rock-a-Charleston," "Rock-a-Cha" - is there anything this girl couldn't rock-a???

Pajama Party (1964) 

Pajama Party is definitely one of my favorites - Annette, Tommy Kirk, Buster, Keaton, Elsa Lanchester, Candy Johnson, Martians, Indians, pajama/pool parties, and "Stuffed Animal" - (one of the most unintentionally-hilarious/perverse songs in the Annette Funicello songbook!!!!!)

Unfortunately, this is the best clip that youtube has to offer but you get the idea.

The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)
Another of my favorites is The Misadventures of Merlin Jones.   The opening credits are awesome! 

Its sequel, The Monkey's Uncle (1965), afforded The Beach Boys the unprecedented opportunity to sing the movie's theme song with Annette.

So much is made of the Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate but I find the more interesting choice to be the one between Annette and Deborah Walley.  Their differences appear to be akin to those of the stranded castaways - the sexy redhead versus the more wholesome brunette.  They shared so many similarities, however, from their rise at Disney to stardom at AIP that I find the choice to be much more telling.  So instead of going on and on about Annette's career and the sadness of her protracted battle with MS, I will let you decide for yourselves.  Who do you go for - Annette or Deborah?

They were both the sweetheart, girl-next-door.

They both had great 60's hair.

They were both killer, beach babes worthy of Bond Girl status!

So, who is it going to be?  I would say that you have to choose, but thankfully, you don't.  They are both amazing!  Overall, Anette may eke out a victory over Deborah only because of the rich musical legacy and the merchandising!


Mr. Tiny

1 comment:

  1. There is no comparison. Annette is a true goddess in every form and way of the word.