I remember exactly where I was the moment I heard that Annette Funicello had died — some 56 years ago. It was the most shocking news I had ever heard, prior to the Kennedy assassination.
The year was 1956. I was 8 years old. I was on a cement playground at the Evergreen Elementary School in Whittier, Calif., which was Richard Nixon’s hometown. I had stayed after school to play with some classmates. My friend Raleigh came over to me with a stunned look on his face. “I just heard that Annette died,” he told me. “She was killed in a car crash.”