Actress Annette Funicello passed away this week at the age of 70. As a child, she was one of the most famous Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club, but as a film actress, she really made her memorable contributions to pop culture by acting in several of the “beach party” movies of the 1960s, along with costar Frankie Avalon. The duo made this genre of film popular at the time, and enduring ever since, and this Sunday, when THIS TV airs a four-movie tribute to Annette Funicello, a few of those titles will naturally be included.
The THIS TV Annette Funicello tribute begins April 14 at 11am ET, and includes:
11am: Beach Party (1963) — The film often credited with starting the beach party film genre. The plot centers around an anthropologist (Robert Cummings), who is secretly studying the behavior of Southern California teens who hang out at the beach (including Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon).
1pm: Bikini Beach (1964) — Frankie and Annette are back, as the kids at the beach meet a British recording star who is attracted to Annette, and the teens’ sandy paradise is threatened by a wealthy publisher who wants to evict the surfers from the beach in favor of building a senior citizens’ community. Frankie Avalon plays a dual role as beach kid Frankie, and British star “Potato Bug.”
3pm: Pajama Party (1964) — Tommy Kirk stars with Annette Funicello in this beach party movie. The plot centers around a Martian scout (Kirk) sent to Earth to prepare for an invasion who lands in the middle of a teenage swim party, then tries to convince everyone that he really is who he says. Other interesting cast members in the film include Elsa Lanchester (The Bride of Frankenstein), Don Rickles, and silent movie legend Buster Keaton.
5pm: Thunder Alley (1967) — The THIS TV tribute to Annette Funicello concludes with this drama that also stars Fabian as a fiercely competitive race-car driver who, as a result of a blackout, kills another driver and is suspended from the circuit.
The Annette Funicello movie tribute airs 11am-7pm ET April 14 on THIS TV. (If you need help finding if, or where, THIS TV is available in your area, try the THIS TV FAQ page.)