“It’s a hard knock life for us!” This was the anthem that the cast of Annie made famous. There’s a reason why it remains a popular classic for many audiences until today. From stints on Broadway to new films with refreshing takes on the characters, the story of family, friendship, kindness, and hope still strike a chord with most people who watch it. The beloved character has grown in popularity for nearly a hundred years, and it remains as relevant and touching as ever. Here we gathered some fantastic facts about Annie.
15 facts about Annie that you might not have known about this spunky orphan’s hard-knock life
1. Its origins go way back
Annie’s origins can be traced back farther than the 1977 debut of the beloved musical on Broadway. The titular character was conceptualized back in 1885 from a poem titled Little Orphant Annie penned by James Whitcomb Riley.
The poem mainly was about little children being snatched up by goblins for misbehaving. This inspired a comic strip released by Harold Gray in 1924 called Little Orphan Annie, which followed the character’s adventures with her dog Sandy and benefactor Oliver Warbucks.
Gray included commentary on organized labor and communism that attracted adult readers more than an innocent comic. The comic strip continued publication for decades, even portraying Annie as a spy who discovered communist plots. Unfortunately, after 86 years, the comic ended its run in 2010.
2. Nearly 800 girls auditioned for the role of Annie in the film
The casting directors faced the monumental task of finding the perfect Annie for the film adaptation of the Broadway musical. Two years before the movie came out, the actress who bagged the role was actually in the Broadway production of Annie.
Aileen Quinn played one of the orphans who wasn’t Annie. So when auditions for the film began in 1980, Annie hopefuls (including Quinn) lined up, and each sang a part of “Tomorrow,” the next girl picking up where the previous one left off. Auditions took nearly a year, and Quinn was called back eight times until the producers decided she had the perfect combination of sweetness and grit.
3. It’s one of the longest-running Broadway shows.
Broadway shows can go on for a very long time, with The Phantom of the Opera topping the list. Annie currently ranks as the 25th longest-running Broadway show in history.
4. Sarah Jessica Parker played Annie at one point
Before she rose to fame on television and film, Sarah Jessica Parker was cast in the role of Annie on Broadway!
5. At one point, Annie was the most expensive musical ever made
It cost a significant sum to produce Annie the film. Costs were estimated to amount to about $40 million, with about $10 million used to buy the rights to the 1977 Broadway play that the movie was based on. Advertising also took up a substantial amount.
Unfortunately, the film’s revenue wasn’t enough to recoup these expenses.
6. The movie was not well-received by the original creator of Annie, the musical
The original musical was created by Martin Charnin, who conceived, directed, and lyricized the Broadway hit. He had nothing good to say about the film adaptation of his play, even if he relinquished all creative control upon selling the rights.
He disagreed mainly on the characterization of the main characters, calling Warbucks “an Englishman who screamed.” He also described Miss Hannigan, head of the orphanage where Annie stayed, as a “man-crazy drunk” and even complained about how cutesy Annie was portrayed.
7. Aileen Quinn had a special comb
The red curly wig Aileen Quinn wore to give her the signature Annie look was not very comfortable. Moreover, it was so itchy that the producers provided her with a special comb to scratch her hed between takes.
8. Steven Martin turned down the role of Rooster
Steve Martin, who you may recognize from his roles in Cheaper by the Dozen and The Pink Panther, was offered the role of Rooster, Miss Hannigan’s brother.
However, when he learned that Bernadette Peters would be playing his on-screen partner, he declined. They were going through a breakup at the time, and he said it would be too painful to work alongside her.
9. Annie took a long time to get on Broadway
While it was written in just a little over a year, Annie took four and a half years to get on Broadway. However, once it got there, it totaled 2,377 runs during its original run and won seven Tony Awards in the process.
10. Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks sold guns in the comic
Source: Gaz Wiki
In the musical and film, Warbucks appears as a wealthy father figure to Annie, but he started as a guest character in the comic strips. The way he made his fortune may be surprising: it was through selling weapons and ammunition during World War 1. Nevertheless, the character became so popular that Harold Gray decided to make him a permanent part of the comic strip.
11. Carol Burnett had trouble filming due to her jaw surgery
Carol Burnett had surgery after primary shooting to align her jaw and correct her overbite. When she was called to re-shoot the song “Easy Street,” she looked quite different than when they first shot the scenes. When she brought those concerns up with her director, he responded with, “Dear, just come out looking determined.
12. The movie added curse words deliberately
Two lines involved mild profanity, and the producers did this on purpose to get a PG rating. They believed that audiences would be limited to parents with small children if they released a G-rated live-action movie.