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Comic strip “Annie” turns 85
The comic strip Annie turned 85 yesterday. Little Orphan Annie first appeared in 1924, a creation of Herold Gray.
The comic “Little Orphan Annie” debuted on Aug. 5, 1924. Original creator Harold Gray intended to call his character “Little Orphan Otto,” but switched the character’s gender at the suggestion of his editor, the Chicago Tribune’s Joseph Patterson. The rags-to-riches story of the little girl who was adopted by the rich Oliver Warbucks resonated with Depression America, and the strip spawned two feature films and a national radio show, sponsored by Ovaltine, which was itself immortalized in the 1983 film “A Christmas Story.”
Gray continued to draw the strip until his death in 1968, after which the strip declined in popularity, eventually going into reruns in 1974. But the character Annie returned to the limelight after the 1977 premiere of the Broadway musical “Annie,” which ran for close to six years, and spawned another feature film. The strip, also renamed “Annie” was revived in 1979 by cartoonist Leonard Starr, who drew it until his death in 2000. Since then, artists Andrew Pepoy, Alan Kupperberg, and Slampyak have teamed up with Maeder to produce the comic.