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As one of the original teen-idol Mouseketeers, Annette Funicello paved the way for Britney Spears and a number of future superstars who got their start on Disney's Mickey Mouse Club.
And, like so many others, Spears was saddened to hear of Funicello's death today at 70 after a nearly 25-year battle with multiple sclerosis—even though she may not have heard the news clearly the first time around.
"Misheard a question I was asked earlier by press while I was out and about. I am DEVASTATED to hear about the passing of Annette Funicello," the circa-1993 Mouseketeer tweeted today after footage ended up online of her (obviously after not really hearing the question) saying "that's great" when a paparazzo asked for her reaction to the entertainer's passing.
"She was a role model for me during my days as a Mousketeer. #Heartbroken," Spears continued.
"Annette Funicello was really a wonderful person," Lori Loughlin, who played Funicello and Frankie Avalon's daughter in 1987's Back to the Beach, said in a statement today. "I enjoyed working with her immensely and found her to be kind and down-to-earth. She faced her illness with courage and never wanted anyone to have pity on her. I have a fond memory of having lunch at her home many years ago and when she opened the cabinet to get something, there were rows of Skippy peanut butter. She was truly the embodiment of the friendly, all-American girl that we all loved to watch in the beach movies."
"Everyone who knew Annette loved and respected her," Diane Disney Miller, a daughter of Walt Disney, said in a statement today. "She was one of the loveliest people I've ever known, and was always so kind to everyone. She was also the consummate professional,and had such great loyalty to my father. Annette will always be very special to me and [my husband, Ron Miller]."
Many more also took time to pay tribute to the late performer via Twitter:
Joan Rivers: "Annette Funicello's death truly saddens me. She was such a bright and wonderful part of all of our history."
Dita Von Teese: "Aw, sad to hear of Annette Funicello's passing, another raven haired goddess of the 50s that inspired me."
Josh Gad: "RIP Annette Funicello. I grew up watching the old Mickey Mouse Club. You will be missed."