The History of Annie: Actresses Who Have Played the Iconic Role

It's a long wait until Quvenzhané Wallis plays Annie; spend some time with the other actresses who've played the beloved orphan


Depending on your generation, the character Annie may be best remembered as a comic strip, a freckle-faced '80s ingenue or a Broadway baby. The adorable and preternaturally talented Quvenzhané Wallis is the most recent actress to portray Little Orphan Annie, but who else has melted hearts as the precocious heroine?

Annie originated as a cartoon serial in 1924. However, more people may be familiar with the radio show based on the strip that debuted in 1931 and ran until 1942, thanks to its prominence in A Christmas Story. Shirley Bell, Bobbie Dean and Janice Gilbert all voiced Annie during the show's run.

Andrea McArdle

The first non-animated (and musical) Annie, McArdle was nominated for a Tony Award in 1977 for her work.

Shelley Bruce

Bruce played Annie in 1978-1979. Sadly, her career was derailed by a leukemia diagnosis in 1981. She currently teaches voice lessons in New Jersey.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Parker took over the role of Annie from Bruce in 1979. From there, she was cast in Square Pegs, eventually going on to star in considerably more adult fare.

Allison Smith

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Allison Smith was both the longest-running and youngest Annie, performing in more than 1,000 shows over nearly three years. Her role as Mallory O'Brien on The West Wing involved considerably fewer stray dogs.

Aileen Quinn

Aileen Quinn starred in the 1982 film version of Annie, alongside Albert Finney. Today, she's teaching in New Jersey.

Joanna Pacitti

Pacitti was chosen to helm the 20th anniversary revival of the show after entering a contest at Macy's. She was dropped by producers just before the show's Broadway debut, eventually settling out of court for an undisclosed amount. She later auditioned for American Idol, but rumors of "personal relationships" with Idol executives disqualified her.

Alicia Morton

Morton got her start playing a different charismatic waif in another Broadway hit: Cosette in Les Misérables. In 1999, she played Annie in ABC's made-for-television version of the film.

Lilla Crawford

Crawford assumed the role of Annie from 2012-2013, during a revival of the show that ran until 2014. Mid-2013, she began alternating with Taylor Richardson and Sadie Sink. The show closed in January of this year.

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