#14: He’s My Ideal by Annette

City: Halifax, NS
Radio Station: CHNS
Peak Month: December 1962
Peak Position in Halifax ~ #2
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “He’s My Ideal
Lyrics: N/A

Annette Joanne Funicello was born in Utica, New York in 1942. In 1955 she began her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve when Walt Disney discovered her performing as the Swan Queen in a dance recital of Swan Lake at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. She became one of the most popular Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she became a pop singer and shortly after an actress in a series of films popularizing the successful Beach Party genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s. On July 17, 1955 Annette Funicello made her television debut during the live broadcast of Disneyland’s opening day ceremonies. She participated in a song and dance routine promoting the upcoming debut of Walt Disney’s new television show, The Mickey Mouse Club. Following the shows premier on Monday, October 3, 1955, The Mickey Mouse Club became an immediate hit. Its army of small, amateur mouse-eared stars took America by storm. It wasn’t long before the young audience of boys and girls developed a particular interest in a little dark haired girl named Annette.

Just as she had appealed to Walt Disney himself, when he discovered her at a dance recital, Annette emerged as a favorite among many children across the USA, launching her into television stardom. As a result Annette appeared on numerous magazine covers and a variety of Disney branded merchandise.

Walt Disney took advantage of Annette’s talents and popularity by featuring her in several Mickey Mouse Club serials, such as The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty. He eventually gave Annette a twenty episode serial of her own, simply titled Annette, during what would be the shows final season. Following the cancellation of The Mickey Mouse Club in 1959, Annette was the only mouseketeer to remain under contract with Disney. The Mickey Mouse Club did, however, appear in re-runs well into the 1960s.

Annette’s solo music career began in 1958 while her serial Annette, was airing on The Mickey Mouse Club. During a hayride scene in one of the episodes, Annette sang what was meant to be a hokey ballad called “How Will I Know My Love,” complete with juice harp and miniature accordion. As a result of Annette’s rendition her friend Laura apologizes for being previously critical of the song.

After the episode aired, thousands of fans called the studio asking where they could buy the record. It was then Walt Disney met with Annette and announced he was signing her to a recording contract. With panic in her voice Annette responded, “But Mr. Disney, I don’t sing. You know I don’t sing”. Disney arranged for Annette to work with Tutti Camarata, a famous musician, arranger, and record producer who had previously worked with other recording artists including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. Camarata also brought in The Sherman Brothers as composers, who would come to call Annette “their lucky star” due to the success they found in working with her.

Following the successful release of “How Will I Know My Love”, it was decided that Annette’s next record would be aimed toward the Rock and Roll market, which at the time was practically uncharted territory for a female artist. “Tall Paul,” her second single was recorded and released by March of 1959. It was written by Bob and Dick Sherman. It reached number seven on the Billboard chart. With rock and roll instrumentation overpowering her soft voice during the recording sessions, the Shermans and Tutti developed the “Annette Sound.” This was a method of double tracking Annette’s voice and adding echos. In 1959 Annette began what would become a long time professional relationship with Dick Clark when she made her first appearance on American Bandstand singing “Tall Paul”. She also joined Dick Clarks Caravan of Stars that year, a bus concert tour across the country with other teen idols.

Although uncomfortable being thought of as a singer, Funicello had a number of hit records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly written by the Sherman Brothers, including “My Heart Became Of Age” (in 1959) and “Pineapple Princess” (in 1960). Annette struggled to bounce back into the Top Ten after her success with “Tall Paul” in 1958. “Jo Jo The Dog-Faced Boy”, “Lonely Guitar” and “Especially For You” each failed to catch on. Her fourth followup to “Tall Paul” was “First Name Initial” backed with “My Heart Became Of Age”.

Annette cracked the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 with “O Dio Mio” in March 1960, and peaking at #8 in Vancouver. While she stalled at #11 with “Pineapple Princess” later that summer, the single climbed to number-one in Vancouver. After “Pineapple Princess”, Annette had trouble getting on the Billboard Hot 100, never mind any more Top 40 hits. “Dream Boy” barely made the Hot 100, stalling at #87, though it made the Top 20 in Vancouver. Her next twenty single releases, beginning with “Indian Giver” missed the Billboard Hot 100. But in 1961 in Vancouver, “Indian Giver” caught on and made the Top 10. Annette also had a medium hit in Vancouver in 1962 with “Mr. Piano Man“.

Late in 1962, she had a hit in Halifax with “He’s My Ideal”, the B-side to “Mr. Piano Man”.

He's My Ideal by Annette

“He’s My Ideal” was written by Salvatore Camarata and William Dunham. Camarata was born in New Jersey in 1913. He began his career as a trumpet player for bands such as Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and others, eventually becoming the lead trumpet and arranger for Jimmy Dorsey. He also did arranging for Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and many others. He also conducted and orchestrated a recording of Jascha Heifetz, the legendary violinist. In 1944, Camarata joined British Decca and helped found London Records. In addition to his duties at London Records, he also served as a classical artist orchestrating and conducting a number of classical albums including the works of Puccini, Verdi, Bach, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff. In 1956 Walt Disney hired him to form Disney Records and to be music director and producer for the label. In 1958 Camarata purchased the first building that would become Sunset Sound Recorders where during his 16 year association with Disney he produced over 300 albums for them.

William Dunham was born in 1910 in New York City. Credited as William “By” Dunham, he wrote songs for the films of many major stars, including John Wayne (“McLintock!”), Randolph Scott (“Seven Men From Now”), and three Bob Hope films: Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, I’ll Take Sweden, and Alias Jesse James. Dunham also wrote the lyrics to the theme song for the Flipper television series, and for the film, The New Adventures of Flipper. His other films included The Young Swingers, Surf Party and Wild On the Beach.

He's My Ideal by Annette

“He’s My Ideal” is a song about a girl who has a crush on a boy. Does anyone else even know who it is?

“He’s My Ideal” peaked at #2 in Halifax, and made the pop charts in Regina (SK).

In 1963 Annette was loaned out to American International for ten movies. She starred in her first non Disney film, Beach Party with her long time friend Frankie Avalon. This campy comedy put a spin on the traditional musical with dialogue and songs directly inspired by the humor and musical tastes of teens at the time. The movie was a great success and spawned four more beach themed-movies: Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. From 1963 to 1965 Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon became known as the “King and Queen of the Beach”. While working with American International Pictures Annette also starred in Pajama Party and two racing films: Fireball 500 and Thunder Alley. She made cameo appearances in Ski Party and Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. In 1968 she played Davy Jones’ girlfriend in the Monkees film HEAD before retiring from the big screen for two decades.

In 1965 Annette was married to Jack Gilardi and gave birth to a daughter (Gina) that same year, and had two more children in the early 70s (Jack Jr. and Jason). By the late 60s she shifted her attention from her career to raising a family. Although she had completely walked away from other aspects of her career, Annette never left television. While staying busy being a mom she would agree to guest star on a large number of popular shows and specials over the next two decades including Fantasy Island, Love American Style and The Love Boat. She was the popular spokeswoman for Skippy Peanutbutter for nine years from the mid 70’s through the early 80’s and she took part in countless television, radio, and magazine interviews. In 1992 Annette founded the Annette Funicello Bear Company which produced collectable designer teddy bears. She died in 2013 after living with multiple sclerosis for twenty-one years.

March 22, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Funicello, Annette, and Romanowski, Patricia. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story. Hyperion, New York, NY, 1994.
Eudie Pak, Annette Funicello, Original Mouseketeer, Dies at 70, Biography.com, April 8, 2013.
Bikini BeachAmerican International Pictures, 1964.
Muscle Beach Party
American International Pictures, 1964.
Fireball 500American International Pictures, 1966.
Thunder AlleyAmerican International Pictures, 1967.
How to Stuff a Wild BikiniAmerican International Pictures, 1965.
Beach Blanket Bingo,
American International Pictures, 1965.
Mickey Mouse Club, ABC, 1955-1959.
Flipper“, Trailer, MGM, 1963.
Flipper Theme Song“, Flipper, 1964.
Jon Thurber, “Salvatore ‘Tutti” Camarata, 91, had Diverse Musical Career,” Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2005.

He's My Ideal by Annette

CHNS 960-AM, Halifax (NS) Top Ten | December 30, 1962

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