Then & now: Aileen Quinn, actor
‘TOMORROW, TOMORROW,I LOVE you, tomorrow . . . ” When cute little red-haired Aileen Quinn sang that memorable tune in the 1982 movie Annie, she captured the hearts of a whole generation – and made a whole generation of kids green with envy that they didn’t bag the coveted title role. Annie, based on the Little Orphan Annie comic book stories, was the smash-hit musical of 1982, and it catapulted the talented 11-year-old from Yardley, Pennsylvania to global stardom.
She had beaten 8,000 other pre-teen hopefuls for the part of Annie – performing in community theatre and as an understudy in the Broadway production of Annie certainly helped.
The album soundtrack was also a huge hit, and Hard-Knock Life was famously sampled by Jay-Z in 1998.
While Jay-Z went on to greater things, things didn’t quite take off for the young star of Annie.
A promised sequel to the hit musical never materialised, and Quinn’s attempts to forge a post-Annie movie and music career took a few hard knocks. But no one this cute and talented could ever be without a gig for too long, and when Quinn returned to the bosom of Broadway, she had no problem landing parts in such evergreen classics as Oliver, Peter Pan and Fiddler on the Roof.
She also reprised her most famous role on the Broadway stage.
She took an intermission from stage work to finish college – later, she became an adjunct professor at Monmouth University, New Jersey, which Annie buffs will recognise as the location for Daddy Warbucks’s mansion.
On the 30th “Annie-versary” of the movie, Quinn, now 41, is still hoping to bag a big part to equal her iconic role. But she’s not holding her breath. She’s keeping busy with stage roles, and she’s also busy with her LA-based rockabilly band, named – you’ll never guess – The Leapin’ Lizards.
There’ll be a lot of Annie activity to mark the 30th Annie-versary, including a Blu-Ray edition of the movie. In a recent interview, Quinn recalls her time on the set with the film’s director John Huston and co-stars Albert Finney, Elizabeth McGovern and Carol Burnett. She also spoke about her annoyance when movie critic Gene Siskel suggested that her freckles may have been painted on. “I’m a freckled girl, I’m very Irish,” she said. The curly red hair, however, was actually a wig.
Will Smith is rumoured to be producing a remake of Annie, with his daughter Willow Smith in the starring role. OK, she’s cute, and talented, but for most movie fans, Aileen Quinn will always be the real Annie.