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Grotesquely Disfigured Annette Funicello
2004-08-23 21:06:08


Special Ideas
 
Rich powerful people, famous people, spies, political people, ALL have "clones". (Royals do not, except for Hirohito, but his was really obvious.)
-- rotten elf

 

.

I have no eyebrows.

Oh wait, said the doctor, I found some...

A freak accident disfigured Annette Funicello in the mid-1970s. Deep slashes down her face exposed raw muscles and glands. "Your eye, Annette!" her husband exclaimed. "Your eye is gone!"

"I need to brush my teeth before we go to the hospital," the former starlet babbled. "I'm going to be a monster!"

She remembered the horrific moments in a 1994 biography - including telling her doctor that she had no eyebrows. "I'm not even in shock!" Annette explained.

"But you are in shock, my dear," the doctor replied. "You are..."

The lacerated mouseketeer required 125 stitches. When her father lifted the cloth over her face, he looked away in "terror and revulsion." And then the plastic surgeon took over...

But throughout her life, events fell into a strange pattern - an odd waltz between darkness and light. While the Mickey Mouse Club grew in popularity, Annette discovered that "one of my brothers was selling my phone number." Walt Disney counseled against psychotherapy, saying [psychotic] shyness was part of her box office appeal. Ripped from America's heartland, the doted-on daughter of first-generation Italian-Americans fought a freakish popularity, struggling against the riptide of an arch-conservative entertainment complex.

Released back into the public school system, Annette was encircled by swarms of angry teenagers, and their merciless hazing drove her to a private child-actor diploma mill. Thus began a life-sentence of protection. She missed her graduation day because she was performing for Walt Disney. She lived with her parents until the day she married...

In 1962 Annette visited Italy - filming a movie for Walt Disney - and Italian men pinched her ass. ("I couldn't get too upset..." she wrote sweetly in 1994, "since that was their custom!") Just once she visited her grandparents' village - a primal land where people "still killed chickens in their houses and threw the heads out into the street." And then - back to Southern California...

On the day of Annette's marriage a crazed overseas soldier threatened to kill her. "Saint Cyril's Church became a guarded fortress filled with unobtrusive Disney security people..." she remembers. Annette was wed - wearing the veil from "Babes in Toyland" - but dark intrigue surrounded her mysterious honeymoon with Hollywood agent Jack Gilardi. What is known is the happy newlyweds didn't talk for two days (after "a spat") and that the bride called her parents, crying. Three weeks later, she was pregnant...

The trapped icon soldiered on, filming "How to Stuff A Wild Bikini" (dressing in floppy shirts) - though the real-life Annette has always hated beaches. ("The sea air made my hair frizzy!") In the 1968 movie "Head," she unknowingly parodied herself with Frank Zappa and stripper Carol Doda.

Her father still called her "Dolly". She was tapped to film peanut butter commercials. Her real-life children were eventually replaced with a new generation of child actors. Daughter Gina asked if Frankie Avalon was her daddy - and if so, why was he never home for dinner?

Promoters asked her to strip down naked, down to nothing but her mouse ears. Would she consider a darker film role - Annette the junkie, Annette the alcoholic? Time marches on. Annette slips into a porn theatre, wearing a disguise...

And then, the blackest of nights. "Suddenly the room grew dark..." It started spinning. Annette heard bells - "loud, crashing bells." She covered her ears, ran for the bedroom, tripped on a ball her child had left on the floor... straight for the sharp protruding points of an ornate dresser.

"Your eye, Annette!" her husband exclaimed. "Your eye is gone!"

"I need to brush my teeth before we go to the hospital," the former starlet babbled...

For years no one could explain the incident. She discovered a permanent blind spot in her right eye. She flailed on, returning to a life of appearing on Love Boat and Fantasy Island. There was a TV pilot that failed. Frankie Avalon had played a failed club singer, while Annette was the sad widow whose husband was killed in Vietnam...

The real-world grows darker. Annette summoned her children to her bedside, and said "You know Daddy and I have not been getting along lately. So he's going away for a little while..."

"The prospect of growing old by myself became very real."

And one day when son Jason sassed her back, an angry Annette struck him. "Blood gushed everywhere... 'Please don't hit me again, Mommy'" he cried. Annette says she'd only meant to slap him across the shoulder, and that in that exact moment he'd turned his head.

A freak accident at the hair-dresser's causes her hair to fall out in clumps. That same day a car broad-sided her son. Annette begins hanging out at the race-track, where she eventually picks up an ex-cop...

In the years to come, "my own body seemed beyond my control." The MRI scan, the diagnosis - Annette's physical ailments came from multiple sclerosis. She hides her condition. For five years. From her father. From everyone. "Living a lie," she remembers, fighting not to betray the twisted Hollywood simulcrum of a fairy tale princess...

This story ends with a revelation. There are flowers, speeches about Walt Disney, a bronze star in a sidewalk, and an award from Helen Hayes. But when Annette looks back over her fifty years in America, she still sees only a lifetime of believing in sugar-frosting.

The title of her book?

"A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes."

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

kabdriver@pigdog.org


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