Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story

1994, first edition, from Hyperion
Annette Funicello with Patricia Rowanowski
A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story
Original price $22.95, purchase price $2.80
Hardcover in good condition

Funicello looks back with fondness on her career as Mousketeer and Beach Party star, although she emphasizes that being a mom was what was most important in her life.  At the time this book came out, Funicello herself had "come out," as a survivor of multiple sclerosis.  She lived almost another twenty years, having passed away this past April, at age 70.  

The book understandably has no "dirt," Funicello's life having been as wholesome and upbeat as her screen persona.  I do wish though that she had been able to step back a bit, not just smooth over the wrinkles and complications.  For instance, she was very introverted and this interfered with her life, affecting her career and socializing.  She was scared that Elvis would notice her hands were cold from nervousness, so she missed a chance to meet him.  (I doubt Elvis would've cared about her hands, or he might've put her at ease.)  When she considered getting therapy, Walt Disney-- whose advice she always took, because he was her "second father"-- discouraged her, arguing that her shyness was part of her appeal.  Now, I'm the last person to urge introverts to become outgoing (unless that's what they really want), but it would've been good if she had learned how to be more comfortable in her own skin.

Similarly, she is very glad to be part of a close-knit, protective Italian family, but she admits that being sheltered made it hard for her to adjust to marriage at 21.  (I don't mean sexually, but in terms of living with someone outside the family, and taking on responsibility.)

Funicello doesn't say much about frequent costar Tommy Kirk, and I wonder if this is partly because he was gay and a drug-user.  (Uncle Walt didn't approve.)  She does, however, have many kind words for Frankie Avalon, whom she dated briefly (before their movies, and before she got relatively serious with Paul Anka).  They became close friends, and he was very loyal to and supportive of her when her second husband confided her secret of MS.  Oh yeah, Annette actually got divorced!  But as she learned in the song she belted out at four, "You've Got to Accentuate the Positive."

So I'll say that this book is for the most part enjoyable, especially when Annette looks back at herself in her teens.  "'It's all right for a boy and girl to "make out" within the bounds of good taste.'  I wonder what I meant by that."

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