She was loved (Annette), hated (Maggie)

I was feeling as though I wanted to write about a couple recent deaths, but I needed an angle. Then it came to me.

Annette Funicello, who appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club, was my first TV crush, as I have previously noted; I was hardly the only one – e.g., see Ken Levine’s piece. Heck, my wife said she had a little crush on her. Abnd it wasn’t just my generation: Cheri remembers her as well.

I watched Annette in a number of Disney programs, and almost certainly in Make Room for Daddy with Danny Thomas. Here’s a story about her in Salon. And enjoy this Parade magazine photo flashback.

But the best love letter to Annette I saw was from Chuck Miller, who even included a clip of the Disney comedy called ‘The Monkey’s Uncle,’ where she performs the title song with the Beach Boys!

Almost everyone loved Annette.


Margaret Thatcher was another matter. I had mixed to negative feelings about her tenure as Prime Minister of Great Britain. I agree with these complaints about her: presiding “over the Falklands War with Argentina, provided critical support to the Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet, and famously labeled Nelson Mandela a “terrorist” while backing South Africa’s apartheid regime.” She opposed the reunification of Germany, while, at home, was a union buster.

Arthur from New Zealand, by way of the US, wrote: “They say if you can’t say something nice about a person who’s just died, you shouldn’t say anything. Not very useful advice for a blogger.” Meanwhile, Shooting Parrots from the UK damned her with faint praise of thanking her for the way that spin has become an end in itself.

These were mild complaints, though, compared with these: The woman who wrecked Great Britain and A terror without an atom of humanity.

Apparently Margaret Thatcher inspired a whole unique genre of British culture: “We can’t wait till Margaret Thatcher dies”, years ago, including songs by several musicians. Now that she is deceased, Brits have sent “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” into music charts.

There have been American politicians who were reviled by certain segments of the population. But I have no recollection that the deaths of Richard Nixon (1994) or Ronald Reagan (2004) generating anywhere near the same level of vitriol. I have two not mutually exclusive theories about this: 1) the world has gotten even nastier in the past decade, and 2) the politics in the UK is more rough and tumble; if you’ve ever watched the debates in Parliament, with the Prime Minister in the thick of it, you’d know it’s measurably different from the way US Presidents are generally treated.

Certainly, it must have been difficult being a woman in a very male-dominated field, as the movie Iron Lady made clear. I thought that film, picking up her story in her dotage, was rather unfair, even though finely acted by Meryl Streep, who got her well-deserved Oscar. Speaking of unfair, I found it very distressing that she has repeatedly been referred to by the c-word; amazingly sexist.

I should note that Mikhail Gorbachev said that she helped end the Cold War. You can read Parade magazine touts her accomplishments.
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Racialicious’ take on Roger Ebert. I must say getting the Westboro Baptist Church to fuss at his funeral must be a badge of honor.
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Evanier has more about Carmine Infantino.

7 thoughts on “She was loved (Annette), hated (Maggie)”

  1. I can understand Brits who celebrate Thatcher’s death, even if I don’t personally join in. I wasn’t the least bit sorry when Nixon or Reagan died, and the only reason I wasn’t glad when the latter died is that he’d long since stopped being Reagan. Still, as you know, I’m not above celebrating the death of an adversary (which is why I won’t criticise those who celebrate Thatcher’s death).

    I think what you’re referencing when you talk about the UK’s “rough and tumble” politics is Question Time, which is rough in any Westminster parliamentary system (New Zealand’s is viewable online, and I assume other countries’ are, too). However, it’s not necessarily representative of normal Parliamentary debate.

    Even so, no American politician could survive more than a few minutes in a parliamentary system before s/he’d run crying from the chamber—seriously, America’s Congresscritters have it EASY compared to other countries!

    I thought about writing about Annette, but then I realised she wasn’t of my generation, and anything I’d say would be “received knowledge”. I’m glad YOU wrote about her!

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  2. I was just about to graduate high school when Richard Nixon died, and I remember one of my fellow students being very angry in class that the school’s flag was flying at half-mast that day. He didn’t think Nixon deserved the honor and was very troubled by it. But that was really the only comment I remember hearing about it. In those days before the opinion-powered internet, young people were a lot less vocal about things like that. (read that as “kids weren’t adopting opinions they’d read on the internet yet”)

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  3. I don’t think we’ve gotten nastier, I think Thatcher pissed a lot of people off (Ireland in particular) during a time when a lot of people were already feeling pretty bleak about the world (late ’70s/early ’80s). That she also was close friends with a murderous dictator (Pinochet) while also initially reviling Mandela subtracts a lot of tally marks from the Good Person side in my book. She was really polarizing by default, and then when you factor in how she was portrayed SOOOOO favorably here in the US her death was bound to be the time for everyone who loathed her to broadcast how awful a person she really was. Strictly from an economics standpoint, it appears as though she ruined England and set them back a couple/few decades. Or, to put it another way: if Jimmy Carter had recklessly pissed off Canada and Mexico, destroyed most of the unions, had someone like Pinochet at his house numerous times, etc., half of our country would relish in digging his grave.

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  4. Roger, so many emotions in this one for me. Thatcher broke a ceiling made not of glass, but perhaps of the collected armor of the entire British military along with all the spittoons in every men’s-only club in the Empire. I know she was confrontational and, towards the end, convinced of her own infallibility, and I know I never had to live under her “rules,” but damn, I respected her achievements. Tony Blair should have had such chutzpah; we might have stayed out of Afghanistan.

    Annette Funicello waged an heroic battle with, I think it was MS. She used her fame as a bully pulpit to bring attention to auto-immune diseases. And yes, I was jealous of her when I was a kid! Britney Spears, of the latter-day Mouseketeers, should have as much class.

    Finally, Roger Ebert. Man, that rant on YouTube was perfect. He had his mind in such a good place regarding race – not because he had a Black wife, and yet that’s a reflection of his world view… He loved HER, not her color, wasn’t trying to make a political statement other than the one we are trying to make with Marriage Equality: Love is LOVE and people are people and consenting adults are… you get the idea.

    He was the FIRST critic Lex and I went to online to check out movies. In fact, when I logged on to “Roger” (like Cher, he had no last name in our house) to see his critique of “The Sapphires,” that was when I found out he had died. I left a note for Lex taped to the bathroom mirror so he’d hear it from me instead of seeing it online. He appreciated that. We lost a member of our family that day.

    Thanks, Rog. And thanks, Mr. Ebert. Amy

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  5. Thatcher was certainly a polarizing figure, but one who was re-elected three times during her tenure. And, one thing is fore certain, she wasn’t was wishy washy in her politics like so many are today! I find it incredibly sad there are “death parties” celebrating her passing. Whether you agree or disagree with her politics, she was a human being, doing what she thought was necessary to turn her country around, economically. I believe it speaks very poorly of those that feel it necessary to be so disrespectful simply because they opposed her policies.

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  6. Lisa, I see where you’re coming from but it’s a matter of perspective too. Talk to any working class (or working poor) people from the UK in the ’80s and they will have a very different take on Thatcher. Yes, she was re-elected 3 times. But she was also close friends with Pinochet, let an elected official starve to death during a strike, and called Nelson Mandela a terrorist. It’s fine that she wasn’t wishy-washy but like Reagan with her and W. Bush after her, you also have to accept that her deeply polarizing persona will cause non wishy-washy anger amongst the people who felt betrayed by her. I’m not saying it’s right but it’s a very real and complex reaction to someone who was deeply deeply flawed and who pretty blatantly favored the upper class and the wealthy. There are many people in the UK that feel she ruined a lot of things and set that region back about 30 years.

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