Picks and Pans Review: A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes

updated 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Annette Funicello with Patricia Romanowski

Forget the squeaky-clean queen of beach-blanket movies; deep-six the suburban mom of peanut butter commercials. In the minds of many a middle-aged American male, Funicello is the once-and-forever pre-teen goddess of love. She may have been just a sweet, frizzle-haired kid of average talents from Utica, N.Y., yet a generation of males learned to spell by staring at the A-N-N-E-T-T-E on the front of her Mouseketee-shirt.

Funicello tells the story of her rapid rise in vivid detail and with considerable wit. She recounts how Walt Disney discovered her as she danced in a school pageant in 1955; and how the flood of fan mail addressed to Annette prompted Disney to offer her a movie contract. She loved her fans, she writes, but after she was a grown-up, and people would chastise her for smoking or taking a drink, she devised a ready answer: "I have three kids, so guess what else I do!"

The darker moments—the fan who wrote threatening to murder her on the day of her wedding to manager Jack Gilardi in 1965; her early love affair with the moody Paul Anka—are discussed honestly but also with a certain Disney-bred discretion. Her current struggle with multiple sclerosis, as well as her life with second husband Glen Holt, a horse trainer, is compellingly described. "I'm not just sitting around and waiting for a cure," she assures us. "Or as I used to sing about fifty years ago, I ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive."

Dream is proof that the true source of her stardom has always been her unbreakable spirit. (Hyperion, $22.95)

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