Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello both died today.
During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Margaret Thatcher — the Iron Lady — was a titanic figure in Great Britain and the modern world. She put backbone into the British Conservative Party, rolled back some of the socialist initiatives of the ’50s and ’60s, and was an outspoken advocate of capitalism and individual liberties. She refused to give up the Falkland Islands to Argentina and fought a war instead, was a staunch ally to the United States under Ronald Reagan, and was a strong anti-Communist voice in the world. Thatcher was the first woman to serve as Great Britain’s Prime Minister, and she led the Conservative Party for 15 years, from 1975 to 1990. Years from now, Thatcher is likely to be recognized as one of the most significant historical figures of the 20th century.
Annette Funicello, on the other hand, was not a significant historical figure. Instead, her impact was largely cultural. She was one of the original Mouseketeers and, for those of us not quite old enough to remember The Mickey Mouse Club, she was the star, with Frankie Avalon, of a series of ridiculous “beach movies” that always seemed to be on TV when I was a kid. Funicello was the voice of calm common sense and reason in a make-believe world where teenaged girls worried endlessly about whether to give their boyfriends a chaste kiss, motorcycle gangs were comedic relief, and a guy named Moondoggie and a cast of swimsuit-wearing teens might break into wild beachfront dancing at any moment.
Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello probably didn’t have a lot in common — yet each had her own, special impact on the world. Each sported a hairdo that looked like hardened cotton candy and probably could break your nose. Each left this mortal coil on April 8, 2013, and each will be missed.