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The Iron Lady and the Mouseketeer

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
April 8, 2013 12:42:54 PM PDT
There's no indication that Margaret Thatcher ever met Annette Funicello. But these two women are meeting, so to speak, in death. Each died today, and each played in their own ways ground-breaking roles.

Thatcher was of course the more important world figure as Britain's first female prime minister. She embraced the moniker that was supposed to be an insult - "Iron Lady" - which is why there are so many mixed signals coming from colleagues and critics alike about her passing.

She was brutally tough, ushering in law and order, and a new economic order that, critics insist, favored the rich and hurt working people and the poor. But she also helped end the cold war, realizing long before her other Western and male counterparts that industrialized countries should and could negotiate with the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev, which she and Pres. Ronald Reagan eventually did.

She has been ill for a while and out of the public spotlight. Her death at the age of 87 shows just how complicated legacies can be - that we all are defined by a series of gray areas, not just black and white, or cut and dry. There are statements from politicians of all stripes singing her praises, and there are - no question - people who are celebrating her passing. We'll have reaction and look back at her life, tonight at 11.

We'll also look back at Annette Funicello, the first girl-next-door heartthrob of the Baby Boomers, who died today after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. It so devastated her that by the time she died today at 70, she had been out of public view for several years. She could no longer walk or talk, and she didn't want the public to remember her in that state. And so instead we remember her as the bubbly Mousketeer who filled our afternoons on The Mickey Mouse Club on TV. And then filled our teenage imaginations as the star of those beach blanket movies of the early 60s.

Annette was not the focal point of political emotion that Margaret Thatcher was, but both women blazed their own kind of trails as the first of their generation to break a mold ? Thatcher in politics, Funicello in the early years of television. And we remember both of them tonight, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) with his AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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