Jane Withers, a former child movie star who won hearts during Hollywood’s Golden Age, has died aged 95.
The Atlanta-born actress died on Saturday evening in Burbank, California, surrounded by her loved ones, her daughter, Kendall Errair, confirmed in a statement to Deadline.
“My mother was such a special lady,” Errair said. “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.”
The cause of Withers’ death was not disclosed.
Withers got an early start in Hollywood at the age of 8, when she portrayed Joy Smythe, the spoiled and obnoxious child who tormented Shirley Temple’s angelic orphan in David Butler’s 1934 comedy-drama “Bright Eyes.”
This breakout role set her on a path of portraying tomboyish girls in films throughout the 1930s.
A year later, she played the title role in Lewis Seiler’s comedy “Ginger,” as an orphan living in a New York slum apartment with her “Uncle Rex,” an aging Shakespearean actor.
In 1947, at age 21, Withers attempted to retire to raise a family after starring in dozens of films, including “The Holy Terror,” “Wild and Woolly,” “Rascals” and “The Arizona Wildcat.”
But she was lured back to the big screen in 1956 when George Stevens cast her as neighbor Vashti Snythe in his 1956 epic “Giant,” alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean.
In 1960, she was recognized for her contribution to film with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Withers achieved another burst of fame in the 1960s and ’70s as Josephine the Plumber in television commercials for Comet cleanser.
Her final acting role was voicing Laverne the gargoyle in Disney’s 2002 animation “The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.”