Jamie Butow

Monday, Apr 08 2013 07:22 PM

JAMIE BUTOW: Readers mourn beloved Mouseketeer on Facebook

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    By Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com

    Annette Funicello at The Doll and Teddy Bear Expo.

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By Jamie Butow

Monday's passing of actress Annette Funicello generated an enormous amount of feedback on social media, especially here in Kern County, where she resided for the past several years.

Not only did readers fondly recall her on "The Mickey Mouse Club" and many beach-themed movies, but several also noted they had seen her around town recently.

Related Info

Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Disease

Though multiple sclerosis robbed Annette Funicello of the ability to walk and talk, the disease didn’t slow her down — at least not in her quest to find a cure, said Lorrain Santoli, executive director of the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases and a friend of the former Mouseketeer for more than 30 years.

“She started the fund in 1993 because she always wanted to be able to help others as well,” said Santoli in an interview Monday, following the death of Funicello from complications related to MS.

The fund supports research into several neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, and in the past year provided funding to five grants, Santoli said.

Holt told The Californian in 2004 the couple saw a need to start their own organization because, he contended, too much of the money donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society — the nation's leading MS group — goes toward administration and fundraising. Holt’s grandson Canaan McDuffie said even as Funicello’s condition worsened, his grandfather remained committed to seeking out promising therapies.

“She and my granddad were interested in funding research that gave them hope that seemed to be ignored by the pharmaceutical industry,” he said.

The nonprofit is a component fund of the California Community Foundation, one of the top 50 largest foundations in the nation that manages funds created by individuals, families, corporations and nonprofit organizations. It is overseen by a board of advisers and Holt, who serves as chairman.

According to the fund’s website, it has no paid staff, allowing it to operate at little cost, and per Funicello’s wishes, ensuring nearly 100 percent of all donated funds are used for research purposes only. For more information, visit annetteconnection.com.

— The Bakersfield Californian

A Canadian television station's 2012 documentary on her battle with multiple sclerosis featured the last known footage of her. We linked to it on Facebook and in the article, warning viewers the images of her were hard to take.

Judith Pratt commented on the video link, "Very moving piece on a dreadful disease, with a very famous face attached for many years. RIP, Annette. And a very powerful example of true love."

There was something about her personality that apparently resonated with readers. The news item generated more than 30 comments and more than 40 shares in just a few hours.

Pat Bailey Chandler wrote, "She was a class act. Unlike many successful stars, I don't remember a hint of scandal attached to her and she was quite a sex symbol in her day. RIP."


Executive Editor John Arthur's Sunday Sound Off column on the use of the term "illegal immigrant" also generated a lot of discussion. As of Monday afternoon, there were 16 comments on the article and 31 on Facebook. There were lots of opinions on the decision by The Associated Press to ban the term. Arthur sought feedback from readers in establishing a policy here at The Californian.

See his column at BakersfieldCalifornian.com/columnists, or through Facebook.com/BakersfieldCalifornian to add your input.

What goes online ...

I write a lot about online safety and being very careful about what you post online, as you never know who will see it. This includes photos.

My colleague, Editorial Page Editor Bob Price, brought to my attention a recent Bakersfield Police Department media release on a runaway teen.

The release described the teen and asked for the public's help in locating her. It also included a recent photo ... of her with duck lips (the popular pose that could also be described as 'kissy face.')

That photo was disseminated to who knows how many news outlets. Hard to believe that was the most recent photo of the girl.

Social TV

Not much surprise from the numbers for last week. The Academy of County Music Awards topped the list with 1.9 million public posts on social media, with the rest of the top 10 going to sports, "The Voice" and "Scandal."

But the numbers for Sunday raised my eyebrows.

Aside from the ACM awards and sports, the most talked about show was the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" reunion.

Really? Over the "Mad Men" premier and "Game of Thrones"?

Since those are just the social sharing numbers, it will be interesting to see the viewership numbers when they come out later.

Doodle Feedback

Last week's column noting the outrage on social media over Google's decision to focus on Cesar Chavez's birthday over Easter in their doodle spurred some feedback on -- you guessed it -- social media.

I thought the importance everyone was placing on the doodle was quite silly.

Mark Thompson (@Tommy29gun) tweets, "silliness? Really? Wow. Choosing a lying cheating migrant over the King of Kings on Easter?"

Endless Mike (@MASolko) replied, "The use of 'migrant' seems loaded there. I'm pretty sure the King of Kings preached about love rather than division."


Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Bakersfield.com Network. Email her at JButow@bakersfield.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JamieButow2, and on Twitter@JamieButow.

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