TODAY   |  April 09, 2013

After long MS battle, Annette Funicello dies at 70

Annette Funicello, one of America’s first teenage sweethearts, is being remembered this morning after passing away at the age of 70 following a long battle with multiple sclerosis. TODAY’s Hoda Kotb reports.

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>>> some of america's first teenage sweethearts is being remembered this morning. annette funicello died monday at the age of 70. mickey mouse

>> one of the original mouseketeer, annette funicello became the show's break out star. she blossomed into a beautiful young woman and standard in several 1960s beach movies. funicello married at 22 and had three children. she took few roles but her popularity never faded. she and frankie avalon went back to the beach in 1987 . during the production of that film funicello felt the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis. in 2012 her second husband glenn holt gave canada ctv a rare look into her struggle with ms. by this time the disease had taken a terrible toll. but she has always spoken openly about her illness.

>> i don't like it but you learn to live with it. i've learned to live with it. and i think attitude is so important. you have to keep the smile.

>> funicello's smile and the youthful innocence she represented remained vivid in the minds of those who loved her including her long time friend and screen partner frankie avalon who issued this statement. we have lost one of america's sweethearts for generations upon generations. she will lives on forever. i will miss her and the world will miss her. this time it's love

>>> she crossed so many generations, didn't she?