Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anka Recalls Former Flame and 'Puppy Love' Inspiration Funicello

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anka Recalls Former Flame and 'Puppy Love' Inspiration Funicello

Article excerpt

Anka recalls former flame Funicello

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TORONTO - Paul Anka says former flame Annette Funicello -- the inspiration for his smash song "Puppy Love" -- was "very courageous" in the way she used her multiple sclerosis diagnosis to educate others.

At an appearance Tuesday to promote his new memoir "My Way" and a CD called "Duets," the Ottawa-born music legend lauded the "Mickey Mouse Club" star, who died last week at age 70.

"She came to the forefront and educated, if you will, put a comfort zone under a lot of people who are afflicted with the same thing and dealt with it so that she could really help others," he said.

In addition, Anka -- whose lengthy list of hits also includes "Diana" and "Lonely Boy" -- spoke about his salad days on tour and the vastly different environment facing today's teen idols such as Justin Bieber.

"I could fail back then, I could make mistakes. I could try my hand at different ways of performing. If I failed I learned from my failure," said the 71-year-old, who also wrote the theme for "The Tonight Show."

"And these kids need to learn from failure. These kids need to grow within the capsule of finding out who they really are, finding out what their limits are, where they excel, because you need mileage in life ... to really feel secure within yourself dealing with others, in any occupation frankly.

"And they don't have that luxury. They immediately are thrown all kinds of different dynamics that they can't deal with."

Anka -- who once wanted to be a journalist and worked at the Ottawa Citizen as a teen -- said writing his autobiography with David Dalton was "cathartic."

In the book, he recalls working with greats such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. He also relates the story of writing perhaps his biggest hit -- "My Way" -- at home in New York after learning of Sinatra's plans to retire.

"It was one o'clock in the morning. It was very surreal," Anka recalled Tuesday. "There was a major thunderstorm going on, rain pounding on my window. ... I had this melody I'd brought back from France. I didn't know quite where I was gonna go with it until that evening. …

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