I spill the beans in this CNN essay: Annette Funicello was my first major celebrity crush. Later on, I fell for Hazel Court -- the first big-screen hottie to capture my heart. But Annette was the one who enchanted me even earlier, when I saw her on The Mickey Mouse Club -- because, well, as I say in the CNN piece, it was around that time that I started noticing girls my own age.
Of course, when Annette moved on to movies, I followed. Mind you, back in the day, whenever my grown-up overlords ever asked inconvenient questions about my eagerness to see the latest Beach Party flick, I always had a ready answer. Something on the order of: “Didn’t you hear? Boris Karloff has a cameo role in this one!” Or, better still: “That funny guy we watched on TV the other night – Don Rickles [or, if we'd recently seen a silent movie on PBS, Buster Keaton] – is in this one!”
But in reality... Sigh.