It’s a slick way of introducing the autobio, and Funicello is poised, charming and lovely. (A neat juxtaposition under Corcoran’s hand occurs late in the TV movie when LaRue passes the As Annette tells it, her younger self was egged on by her mother Virginia (Linda Lavin, playing with insistent gladness), was spotted by Walt Disney at a recital, and forged ahead into the Mouseketeers. She works with Frankie Avalon (Avalon himself plays the role with effectiveness), Dick Clark enters (played by Kavan Smith before Clark appears) and Paul Anka passes through her life, but how close and for how long isn’t explored — only that he passes out of her life to further his career.
Mom sticks like mustard plaster, but Annette meets her first husband, settles into domesticity and loses him. Marrying again, she suffers one problem: She’s developed multiple sclerosis and doesn’t want anybody to know.
Len Cariou plays an avuncular Disney, and Rob Stewart brings off an insinuative turn as first husband Jack. David Lipper’s topflight as an eager Anka, and Justin Louis is OK as Avalon until the real thing comes along. Andrea Nemeth is a spirited delight as the discovered Annette, Frank Crudele does a sure job as Annette’s dad, and Don S. Davis as Glen Holt, Annette’s second husband, is fine.
Designers Linda Del Rosario and Richard Paris catch the era’s spirit, and helmer Corcoran does commendable work. Tech credits are good.
TV movie doesn’t try to cover the Disney sweetheart’s complete pro career, focusing instead on Annette, the girl and the woman, and how she has coped with her illness.Program is flooded with sunshine, and it’s wholesome, helpful and entertaining, like its subject. Just the thing for youngsters to watch with their parents and grandparents — who may have Mouseketeer hats squirreled away somewhere.