BAKERSFIELD - As a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950's, Annette Funicello quickly became 'America's Sweetheart.'
Today she passed away at the age of 70, at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield.
Funicello had battled multiple sclerosis for more than 25 years. She set up the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Disorders after she was diagnosed.
In 1986 she married her second husband Glen Holt. Together they spent time at their ranch South of Shafter.
But Funicello's story began well before her time in Kern County.
After staring in a school production of Swan Lake she was discovered by Walt Disney. Shortly after that she was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, spending three years on the show.
She later starred on the big screen, with her greatest success coming in a series of beach movies alongside Frankie Avalon.
Funicello also recorded more than a dozen albums.
In 1992 she found out that she had multiple sclerosis, eventually being forced into a wheelchair.
A spokeswoman for Funicello said that her family won't be talking publicly at this time. The spokeswoman added that today is a sad day and that they family thanks everyone for the kind wishes that they have been receiving as they deal with their loss.