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Shirley Bell Cole (Shirley Cole)

Shirley Bell Cole

Radio Actress. A child star of the 1930s, she is remembered as the title “Little Orphan Annie” in the popular radio series of that name. Born Shirley Adrienne Bell, she was raised on the south side of Chicago and began entertaining early, singing in synagogue and on radio from age six. At 10, she answered a casting call and was selected as Annie from among hundreds of hopeful little girls; the show’s success, measured by sales of the sponsor’s product Ovaltine, was massive. For 10 years, Shirley rode mass transit six days a week to record, first for WGN radio, then for NBC, two 15 minute episodes. Her paychecks kept five immigrant Jewish families fed during the Depression, but her teenage years were essentially sacrificed and she eventually had to drop out of high school. In 1940, “Captain Midnight” replaced “Annie”, and though she was Patsy on the show for awhile, her radio career was over. In 1940, she married Irwin Cole (deceased 1998) and thereafter concentrated on her children, but as the years went by and the popularity of “old-time-radio” increased, she was to find renewed celebrity as a frequent guest at conventions, even donning a red wig to appear as Annie. Her memoir “Acting Her Age: My 10 Years as a 10 Year Old”, was published in 2004; she lived out her days in Arizona and died of the infirmities of advanced age. (bio by: Bob Hufford)


  • February, 21, 1920
  • USA


  • January, 01, 2010
  • USA


  • Cremated

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