Former child star Jane Withers dead at 95

Former child star Jane Withers dead at 95 after roles in Bright Eyes, Giant, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Former child star Jane Withers died, age 95, from undisclosed causes while surrounded by loved ones in Burbank on Saturday night.

‘My mother was such a special lady,’ one of Jane’s four surviving children – Emmy-winning costume designer Kendall Errair – said in a statement.

‘She lit up a room with her laughter, but she especially radiated joy and thankfulness when talking about the career she so loved and how lucky she was.’  

RIP: Former child star Jane Withers died, age 95, from undisclosed causes while surrounded by loved ones in Burbank on Saturday night (pictured in 2013)

Withers had been the last major star from the Golden Age of Hollywood of the 1930s to pass away after two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland in 2020.

The Atlanta-born, Hollywood-raised actress got her big break portraying the bratty Joy Smythe opposite Shirley Temple’s angelic orphan in David Butler’s 1934 film Bright Eyes.

Jane – whose early fans included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – was the only child star to complete a seven-year contract at 20th Century-Fox Studios.

After starring in 38 films, Withers retired at age 21 in 1947 before George Stevens cast her as neighbor Vashti Snythe in his 1956 epic Giant alongside Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.

Jane’s (pictured in 2003) daughter Kendall Errair said in a statement: ‘My mother was such a special lady. She lit up a room with her laughter, but she especially radiated joy and thankfulness when talking about the career she so loved and how lucky she was’

End of an era: Withers (pictured in 1941) had been the last major star from the Golden Age of Hollywood of the 1930s to pass away after two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland in 2020

‘Natural clown’: The Atlanta-born, Hollywood-raised actress (L) got her big break portraying the bratty Joy Smythe opposite Shirley Temple’s (R) angelic orphan in David Butler’s 1934 film Bright Eyes

https://youtube.com/watch?v=6omISvA1Njs%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

The avid doll collector experienced another Hollywood comeback when she portrayed Josephine the Plumber in commercials for Comet cleanser between 1963-1974.

Jane – who suffered from bouts of lupus and vertigo – went on to guest star in episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Love Boat, and Murder, She Wrote.

Withers’ final acting role was voicing Laverne the gargoyle in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1996 and its direct-to-video sequel The Hunchback of Notre Dame II in 2002.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=oE3LNfIAKSQ%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

Silver screen gem: Jane – whose early fans included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – was the only child star to complete a seven-year contract at 20th Century-Fox Studios (pictured in 1936)

Comeback: After starring in 38 films, Withers (M) retired at age 21 in 1947 before George Stevens cast her as neighbor Vashti Snythe in his 1956 epic Giant alongside Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor

Squeaky clean: The avid doll collector experienced another Hollywood comeback when she portrayed Josephine the Plumber in commercials for Comet cleanser between 1963-1974

The devout Christian and philanthropist had three children – Wendy; William II; and Walter – from her first marriage to Texas entrepreneur William Moss, which ended in 1955.

Jane had two children – Kenneth and Kendall – from her second marriage to The Four Freshmen singer Kenneth Errair, who died in a 1968 plane crash.

Withers’ third marriage to Thomas Spicer Pierson ended in 2013 when he passed away.

Howdy! Jane – who suffered from bouts of lupus and vertigo – went on to guest star in episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Love Boat, and Murder, She Wrote (pictured in 2007)

Swan song: Withers’ final acting role was voicing Laverne the gargoyle (R) in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1996 and its direct-to-video sequel The Hunchback of Notre Dame II in 2002

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