Based on Harold Grays famous comic strip, Little Orphan
Annie was one of radios first juvenile serial dramas,
aimed at a young audience and starring an equally young protagonist.
The show debuted on WGN/Chicago in 1930 and became a national sensation
when it moved to NBCs Blue Network in 1931. In the tradition
of the comic strip, Annie, her dog Sandy and her pal Joe Corntassel
often traveled to exotic locations, battling gangsters, pirates
and smugglers, receiving occasional assistance from business magnate
Oliver Daddy Warbucks and his sidekick Punjab. When
they werent traveling the globe, Annie, Sandy and Joe lived
in the fictional town of Simmons Corners with the rustic Mr. and
As the shows longtime sponsor, Ovaltine cultivated Annies
fan base by offering special premiums, including secret decoders,
shake-up mugs for drinking Ovaltine and rings for members of the
Little Orphan Annie secret society. Announcer Pierre Andres
exuberant pitches for Ovaltine and the many premiums were an integral
part of the show.
Little Orphan Annie aired until 1942. For most of the shows
run, Chicago actress Shirley Bell played Annie. Shirley Bell Cole died on January 12, 2010.
Little Orphan Annie was inducted into the Radio Hall of
Fame in 1990.
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