|Annette: The all-American girl who ushered many boys into manhood.|
"Annette Funny Jello" they called her in MAD magazine.
|Puberty was kind to Annette Funicello.|
In 1960, the same year as "Tall Paul," satirist Stan Freberg wrote and recorded a satirical comedy sketch called "The Old Payola Roll Blues (Parts 1 and 2)" about a sleazy record producer (played by Jesse White) who tries to turn a tone-deaf, frog-voiced teenage imbecile named Clyde Ankle (played by Freberg) into a teen idol by bribing disc jockeys to play Clyde's moronic song, "High School Ooh-Ooh." Freberg's character seems dubious of the whole arrangement but still wants to get as much as he can out of this producer. They start negotiating specifics:
FREBERG: Well, maybe now I can have my adenoids taken out.
WHITE: What, and ruin your amateur standing?!
FREBERG: Well, could you at least get me a date with that Mouseketeer that grew up?
WHITE: All right, we'll see.
FREBERG: (excited) Oh boy!
Listeners of the time would have had no trouble identifying that particular Mouseketeer. Of course, by the time I was born, Annette's career was pretty much over. The hit songs and movies had dried up years earlier, and she settled into the life of perfect domestic tranquility as a wife and mother. Her most prominent public role after that was as the celebrity spokeswoman for Skippy peanut butter. Her career ended, then, as it began: with Annette as a paragon of chastity and modesty, utterly sexless and harmless. But this does not diminish her importance in the sexual awakening of a generation. Incidentally, that song I mentioned earlier, "Tall Paul," played a small yet significant part in my own childhood. I have written before about how my introduction to popular music came through a stack of hand-me-down 45 rpm records I received from my mother and which I repeatedly and obsessively played on my trusty Fisher-Price record player. Naturally, Annette's hit platter was an important part of the mix. It's an odd-sounding record even today, as fast and choppy as a punk song with very prominent percussion. Give it a listen, won't you?