Judy Richman and Annette Funicello auditioned on the same day for Disney’s new Mouseketeers TV show. Annette was three months older, and they both got the job.
“Our mothers were on the set a lot together, we all got along, it was a lot of fun,” said Judy, who was known as Judy Harriet then, before she married Tony 48 years ago.
At the time, Funicello, her parents and her two brothers lived in Studio City. It wasn’t until later that Judy moved to Sherman Oaks and Studio City herself, and has lived there most of her life.
“We have a lot of good memories of our times together,” Judy said.
Many Studio City residents have had close relationships and friendships with Funicello, who died at the age of 70 on Monday due to complications of Multiple Sclerosis.
Bobby Burgess, 71, of the Mouseketeers, lives in Studio City with his wife of 42 years, Kristin Floren, daughter of Lawrence Welk orchestra's beloved accordionist Myron Floren.
"Annette had that special charisma that leapt off the stage," Burgess told Long Beach Press Telegram columnist Tim Grobaty. "Annette loved the camera, and it loved her." Read more of Burgess's memories by CLICKING HERE.
Tony Richman, Judy’s husband who is the latest president of the Studio City Improvement Association, said, “She was a wonderful woman.”
Actress Shelley Fabares, a longtime Studio City resident, got her start thanks to Funicello, and remained close to the famous Mouseketeer throughout her life, and helped her after her MS diagnosis. She remained close to Annette and her husband and helped until the end. Fabares recently posted a YouTube memory of Funicello (see the Gallery above under Videos) wishing the Mouseketeer a happy 70th birthday.
Funicello was seen around town a great deal. A reader said she was a frequent visitor to the deli counter at Gelson’s in Encino and saw her at a boutique called Poor Snob that was located in Studio City.
Funicello moved to Encino, and the house caught fire a few years ago.
“We opened Disneyland together, we were part of that,” Judy recalled. Art Linkletter, Ronald Reagan and Robert Cummings were the hosts of the big party in 1955.
“I remember we did the Mickey Mouse Club circus and she and I learned how to do the trapeze,” Judy said. “There were red-and-white candy striped tents. We learned a lot for 12 and 13 year-olds.”
Judy recorded the song Tall Paul and later Annette recorded it and had a breakthrough hit with it.
“She was a great lady, a graceful, grateful lady,” Judy said.
Judy said many of the original Mouseketeers have settled in the Studio City and Sherman Oaks area, so Judy thinks she will be in contact with them in the next few days.
“Annette would want to be remembered as a good mother and a great person,” Judy said. “She had a great smile and would be kind to everyone she meets. She did not have a mean bone in her.”
Annette set up he Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Disorders.
* Flowers Placed on Annette Funicello's Walk of Fame Star