Character Description of "Little Orphan Annie"

by Trisha Dawe

Little Orphan Annie was introduced to Americans as a comic strip character created by Harold Gray, running in the newspaper funny pages from 1924 until 2010. The character became the basis for a Broadway musical, and a 1982 hit movie starring Aileen Quinn as Annie. Annie's character was shaped largely by Gray's disapproval of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Strength vs. Femininity

Annie demonstrates her strength by saving and protecting other children in the orphanage, as well as a stray dog, from children portrayed as bullies. Her emotional strength is also evident by her continuous searching for her birth parents throughout the Broadway musical and the movie adaptation. After the connection of Annie with her later adoptive father, Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, she began to adopt a more feminine appearance by wearing trendy frocks and even a bow in her hair.

Political Influence

The "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip demonstrated the political views of Gray, the comic's author and illustrator. Gray opposed Roosevelt's New Deal plan to help the nation during the Great Depression, and he portrayed his feelings through Warbucks, who in the film reluctantly agrees to support it. Little Orphan Annie has much to do with persuading him.


During the time when the economy was in turmoil in the early 20th century, Annie was a symbol of optimism for Americans. Her rags-to-riches story gave hope to those without many of the amenities we now take for granted, including adequate shelter, nutrition and apparel. Although her attitude toward others was often rigid and protective, she continued to hold hope in her heart. This was shown by her actions, while she dreamed of a future with her parents.

Physical Description

Before living with Daddy Warbucks, Little Orphan Annie wore tattered clothing and demonstrated a cold and defensive attitude toward the world. Her hair was frizzy and her overall look appeared unkempt. When introduced and accepted by Grace Farrell and Daddy Warbucks, her look took a 360-degree turn, and she was given a number of clean and new, trendy dresses for the time period. Her hair was brushed and held a tight curl.