News of Annette Funicello’s death after a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis was announced yesterday. I first knew “Annette,” as she was commonly known, from her tenure on “The Mickey Mouse Club” on TV when I was a child in the late 1950s. However, I didn’t come to appreciate her fully until I was a little older and saw BEACH PARTY when it opened in the Bronx in October 1963 (50 years ago this fall) on a double bill with Roger Corman’s race-car drama, THE YOUNG RACERS. Annette was absolutely beautiful in the film and even though I’d have to count Natalie Wood in WEST SIDE STORY, first seen earlier that year, as my first movie star crush (and the one that directly influenced, consciously or subconsciously, my future choice of mate), I have to say Annette imprinted herself on my consciousness that day as the ideal woman, particularly in the scene where her mirror image sings back to her, “Treat Him Nicely.”
Recently, a song was played on the radio entitled “Merry Go ’Round,” by up-and-coming country singer Kacey Musgraves, and it reminded me of the kinds of songs that used to be featured on movie soundtracks in my youth. In these films, there was usually a sequence where the song played over a piece of action as a character is traveling or making stops or having a lovers’ rendezvous and the lyrics usually commented on the action, either directly or obliquely. The songs that came to mind right away were the following: “Everybody’s Talkin’” performed by Nilsson in MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969), “Come Saturday Morning,” performed by the Sandpipers in THE STERILE CUCKOO (1969), and “I Got a Name,” performed by Jim Croce in THE LAST AMERICAN HERO (1973).