How ‘Full House’ Connects to This Forgotten 1960s Movie Genre

by Craig Garrett

60’s beach movie stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello appeared on Full House, but a star of the show was also in one of their films. The Tanners have become classic tv characters, but they were helped along by iconic guests. In the fourth season of Full House, Joey is cast in a TV series and departs San Francisco for Los Angeles. The Tanner clan tags along to ensure that Joey has a pleasant experience in L.A. in the episode “Joey Goes Hollywood.” Of course, they also go to meet Joey’s famous fellow actors.

Aside from being a new environment, this episode also paid homage to 60s Beach Party movies. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are among the actors who make up Joey’s cast on his new television program (a fictitious show called Surf’s Up). However, the appearance of the 60s icons together on Full House isn’t the only link between the program and those classic films. 1987 saw a beach party nostalgia film called Back to the Beach. It of course starred Avalon and Funicello. It also featured newcomer Lori Loughlin, who played Becky on Full House.

Full House was the final time Frankie and Annette acted onscreen together

In the film, Loughlin played Frankie and Annette’s adolescent child, giving fans of Beach Party movies a chance to see their favorite couple as grown-ups dealing with their own children. Many fans of 80s nostalgia might recall Pee-Wee Herman’s show-stopping musical number in the film, “Surfn’ Bird.” Back to the Beach was also Bob Denver’s (of Gilligan’s Island fame)last film role.

Sadly, Back to the Beach would also be Annette Funicello’s final lead film role. During the filming, Funicello bravely concealed her exhaustion. However, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis not long after filming wrapped. Appearing in the Full House episode was a comeback to TV for Funicello. She’d only made a return to acting once after Back to the Beach. She had a cameo as herself in a 1989 film called Troop Beverly Hills.

A funny gag in the Full House episode deals with the younger Tanner’s having no idea who Frankie and Annette are. The older characters struggle to explain the 60s beach party movie craze. Modern parents might have similar problems explaining the imeanse popularity of sitcoms in the 80s.

Sadly, Annette Funicello passed away in 2013. Meanwhile, Frankie Avalon continues to perfrom. “It’s been my life for 60-some years,” he told The Vindicator in 2021. “I look forward to it. I love the reaction of an audience that’s been with me all those years from ‘Venus’ and ‘Bobby Sox’ through ‘Beauty School Dropout.’ To see the joy in their faces as they sing along with me, what’s better than that?”