Paul Anka And Friends Remember Annette Funicello

By SARAH KOO
THE BIG EVENT -- "Dick Clark's Good Old Days Part II" -- Pictured: (l-r) Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello -- Photo by: Ron Tom/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

To Paul Anka, Annette Funicello, who was one of his first crushes, will always be the "Princess of Afternoon TV." Someone he says "was just as sweet on and off camera," and that too is how many friends and fans remember their favorite Disney Mouseketeer, who passed away April 8th after a long battle with multiple sclerosis at age 70.

And in an interview with CBS This Morning the Canadian crooner recalls how she inspired his music. "It was a time of innocence, pop music was in its infancy stage," Ottawa-born Paul revealed. "We had Disney people around and we had managers and they didn't want us to get serious - they kept harping at me that this was just a puppy love... and I wrote Puppy Love for her."

Nancy Sinatra and Annette Funicello

Meanwhile, one of Annette's longtime collaborators, actor and singer Frankie Avalon - who shared the screen with the star in six Beach Party films in the '60s and a series of reunion concerts in the '80s - just released this statement: "We have lost one of America's sweethearts for generations upon generations. I was fortunate enough to have been friends with Annette as well as appear in many films, TV and appearances with her. She will live forever. I will miss her and the world will miss her."

Nancy Sinatra Tweeted a picture of her and her longtime friend, with this caption: #Annette my buddy and me with two of our friends. I'll miss you forever, Annie, and I wish you godspeed. Also sharing her picture with the TV legend, The Facts of Life and Survivor: Phillippines star Lisa Whelchel, who calls Annette "a sweet lady."

Annette Funicello, Lisa Whlechel's and other Mouseketeers

And fellow Mickey Mouse Club member,  Britney Spears, who shot to fame after the show's revival in the '90s tweeted this when she learned of the icon's death: "Misheard a question I was asked earlier by press while I was out and about. I am DEVASTATED to hear about the passing of Annette Funicello," and soon after, Brit added: "She was a role model for me during my days as a Mousketeer. #Heartbroken."

Watch more of Paul Anka's story of the couple's puppy love in the video below.