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c. 1924-2010

Little Orphan Annie

Captivating our hearts since 1924.

What little girl, with or without red hair, has not wanted to tread the Broadway boards as Little Orphan Annie? There is something about this auburn innocent, wandering alone in a dangerous world, that has captivated hearts ever since her very first appearance, in 1924, as a cartoon.

The death of Daddy Warbucks

That cartoon, drawn by Harold Gray, ran for almost 100 years, and described the adventures of Annie, Daddy Warbucks and Sandy the hound until its cancellation in 2010. Incidentally, Sandy was originally called One-Lung.

Annie’s nemesis at the Orphanage was the beautifully named Miss Asthma. Her replacement was Miss Treat (mistreat, geddit?). Daddy Warbucks was actually killed off in 1933, dying of despair after the election of FDR. In true soap style, he returned more than a decade later. Apparently he had only been in a coma…

Adult themes

Little Orphan Annie was a cartoon that worked for children and adults alike — its political commentary exploring, among other things, Communism, the New Deal, the Bomb, and being a teenager. Annie became a franchise, manifesting as a radio show in 1930, a film in 1932, and — as surely no-one can forget — as the 1977 musical Annie.  That in turn became a film, not once, not twice, but thrice.

She may not have had magical powers, but somehow the young girl was routinely able to spring the people she encountered free from their struggles. For that, Little Orphan Annie was certainly a proto-superhero.

Oh, and yes that is Sarah Jessica Parker. And Sonny and Cher. Gee whiskers.

1932: A Little Orphan Annie poster with Mitzi Green
LMPC/Getty Images
1938: Little Orphan Annie film lobbycard with Ann Gillis
LMPC/Getty Images
1932: Mitzi Green as Annie
Denver Post/Getty Images
1938: A Little Orphan Annie poster
LMPC/Getty Images
1938: Actress Ann Gillis in a scene from the movie “Little Orphan Annie”
Donaldson Collection/Getty Images
1972: Sonny Bono with Cher as Annie
CBS Photo Archive/ Getty Images
1979: Jane Sutherland auditions at the Theater Royal
John William Sefton/Fairfax Media/Getty Images
1979: Jane Sutherland played Orphan Annie at Her Majesty’s Theater, the 3rd Annie in the show
John M Manolato/Fairfax Media/Getty Images
1979: Sarah Jessica Parker with a dog in the musical Annie
Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images
1980: Some of the over 300 budding actresses auditioning for the starring role in Columbia Pictures’ Annie.
Ron Bull / Toronto Star

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