Jane Withers, former child star known for Bright Eyes other Ginger And like the commercial character Josephine the Plumber, she has died. She was 95 years old.
Withers’s death was confirmed by his daughter, Kendall Errair. She died Saturday night surrounded by loved ones in Burbank, California. The cause of death was not disclosed.
“My mother was such a special lady,” Errair said in a statement. “She would light up a room with her laugh, but above all she radiated joy and gratitude when she talked about the career she loved so much and how lucky she was.”
Withers, born April 12, 1926 in Atlanta, was already a seasoned show business professional when she was six years old. Withers’s mother was so determined that she would become a star that she named her Jane so that “even with a last name as long as Withers, she would fit in a marquee.”
Withers’s mother’s wish came true. After winning a local talent show, Withers was chosen to Aunt Sally’s Children’s Magazine, a children’s show on Saturday morning, and then they gave him his own radio show at just three years old. Just before Withers’s sixth birthday, he traveled to Hollywood with his mother and began booking acting, voice-over, and modeling gigs.
READ MORE: Markie Post, the gutsy TV favorite who became a star on Night Court, dies at 70
Withers’ big break came in 1934 when she was elected to Shirley Temple in 1934 Bright Eyes. Withers played Joy Smythe, a spoiled and evil character of the sweet character Temple. Withers then signed a seven-year deal with Fox Film Corporation and landed his first starring role in Ginger (1935).
A series of credits followed, with Withers starring in an average of three to five films per year during the 1930s. He had become one of the most popular child stars of Hollywood’s heyday. Withers’s credits from that time period include Paddy O’Day, Gentle Julia, Little Miss Nobody, Pepper, El Santo Terror, Angel’s Holiday, Ladies, Rascals other Always in trouble. Withers was the only child star of his time to complete a seven-year contract.
As Withers grew older, he expanded into writing, writing the screenplay for the film. Little town Deb under the pseudonym Jerrie Walters. Withers also starred in the film, which followed a teenage girl whose mother would not allow her to spread her wings and find herself, a parallel to what Withers felt as a grown child star.
In 1941, Withers signed his second seven-year deal with Fox, starring in movies like Golden Hoofs, A Very Young Lady, Young America and The Mad Martindales.
Withers retired from Hollywood at age 21 and chose to focus on raising a family. He was married twice and had five children.
In 1955, after divorcing her first husband, Withers earned a bachelor’s degree in film from the University of Southern California, seeking to move on to directing. But he landed a supporting role in the 1956 film. Giant and return to the world of acting, making appearances on television shows such as Pete and Gladys, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and General Electric Theater.
READ MORE: Justin Timberlake mourns the death of a backup dancer in heartbreaking tribute: ‘My heart is so heavy’
In the 1960s, Withers gained popularity once again as Josephine the Plumber in the Comet Cleaner television commercials. The ads ran between 1963 and 1974 and made the character and Withers a household name. Withers even took a plumbing course to better understand the product.
In his later years, Withers transitioned to voice work, recording several lines as Laverne the Gargoyle at Disney’s. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) after the death of the creator of the paper, Mary Wickes. Withers reprized the role in the film’s sequel in 2002.
Withers was also an active philanthropist, serving as a board member for her local branch of the American Cancer Society. In 2003, she received the Living Legacy Award from the Women’s International Center.
Celebrity deaths 2021: stars who died this year