Evening at the Barn: Jane Withers in Person!
Hollywood Heritage is pleased to announce an "Evening at the Barn" with beloved actress Jane Withers. Ms. Withers, who just celebrated her 85th birthday, has consented to join us for a special retrospective on her varied career filled with clips, anecdotes and remembrances. She will also be on-hand to sign autographs and take photographs with her fans.
Jane is best known for being one of the most popular child film stars of the 1930s and early 1940s, as well as for her portrayal of "Josephine the Plumber" in a series of TV commercials for Comet cleanser in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Withers's big break came when she landed a supporting role in the 1934 Shirley Temple film "Bright Eyes". Her character Joy Smythe was spoiled and obnoxious, a perfect foil to Temple's sweet personality.
Through the remainder of the 1930s she starred in several movies every year, including Ginger (1935), The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) and Little Miss Nobody (1936), usually cast as a wholesome, meddlesome young girl in films less sugary than Temple's vehicles. Moviegoers flocked to see her films, and Withers became one of the top 10 box-office stars in 1937 and 1938. Her popularity was such that Fox gave her "name" co-stars: the Ritz Brothers (in "Pack Up Your Troubles") and Gene Autry (in "Shooting High"). Withers also did a stint in screenwriting in 1941: she wrote the original story filmed as "Small Town Deb", under the pseudonym "Jerrie Walters."
Withers kept working in the 1940s; she made 16 films for Fox, Columbia, and Republic Pictures. Her "sweet sixteen" birthday party was filmed by Paramount for the Hedda Hopper's Hollywood series. Withers received excellent notices for her dramatic performance in Lewis Milestone's "The North Star". She came out of retirement in 1955 to appear with James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in the landmark film "Giant" directed by George Stevens.
By the mid-1960s, Withers gained fame again as "Josephine the Plumber," a character in a long-running and popular series of television commercials for Comet cleanser, and the veteran TV-ad pitchwoman's beloved character lasted into the 1970s, and even further in the '80s when her niece, JoAnn or Jo, would show her customers a picture of her Aunt Josephine. Withers continues to do voice-over work and occasional guest appearances. She is also a passionate collector and maintains many of the original costumes from her films. A selection of Jane Wither's memorabilia will be on display in the museum lobby for this event, which promises to be a truly special evening.
Hollywood Heritage Museum
2100 N. Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90068
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