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13 May 2010
CHICAGO, Illinois -- Sources close to the Executive offices of the Tribune Media Corporation announced that it is terminating long-time Tribune employee, and "America's Favorite Orphan," Annie Warbucks, on June 13, 2010. Annie, better known as Little Orphan Annie, began her career with the company, then known as the Chicago Tribune, in 1924.
"Throughout her 85-year lifespan, Little Orphan Annie has been a success for the Tribune. However, times have changed. We no longer have orphans in the United States. Instead, we import our orphans from Haiti and Russia," said Frank Munsinger, an independent media critic.
Children in the U.S. who have no known parents are known as foster children. They no longer live in orphanages, but in group homes, and with children's services.
"So 'Little Orphan Anyone' simply doesn't resonate with the public like it did in the 1930s and 1940s for our grandparents, parents and the Walton Family of Walton's Mountain, Virginia," said Munsinger.
Communications professor Naidra Howard of the University of Chicago agrees. "We know that the Tribune thought about changing the name to 'Little Foster Child Annie' and 'Little Looking For Her Forever Home Annie,' but neither of those tested well in focus groups," related Howard.
Annie, who was adopted by Capitalist Oliver Warbucks in the 1920s, was a precocious youth who often favored involvement with pirates and other members of society's underclass. While this made for spritely reading in the funnies, many of the Warbucks family's friends felt that it added to the stress of Alopecia--a disease that rendered Daddy Warbucks balder than Annie's behind.
At the time of the adoption, Warbucks was married, and his wife's distaste for Annie led her to run away. She eventually found her way back to Oliver Warbucks. But telling her husband that it was either her or "That red-headed bastard," Mrs. Warbucks was cast from the strip, never to be inked again.
Controversy often surrounded Annie and her exploits. As she aged, her adventures became more adult. In 1972, she hosted a "key party" in the strip and invited Mary Worth, Mark Trail and others to toss their creators into the bowl and "Let's see who gets chosen to draw us tomorrow." In Annie's case, she drew the creator of the Grandma Cartoons in Playboy, and he drew her, and scandalized American society in the March 1973 issue of the magazine, bare-chested and with her secret lady-region missing its trademark flaming-orange hair.
Now 85 and confined to a nursing home in Greenwich, Conneticut, Annie spends her days playing Bingo and eating soft foods, her red head of curls now gray with a blue rinse. Though she shies away from publicity, her nursing staff said that her days are restful. But she hasn't been told that, come June 13th, Tribune will no longer foot her nursing care bills.
"She often asks for her old friend and confidante Little Edie Beale," according to nurses' aide Tykeisha Robinson. "Dat the lady who live at dat Grey Gardens house. But we ain't have de heart to tell her dat lady died years ago. But Ms. Warbuck and Mrs. Mary Worth sho do have some stories about they days in d'newspaper bidness."
"But," said Robinson, "Don' know how we 'mo tell her dat Tribune done pulled her plug and de end is near. Stuff like dis is all Obama's fault!"
Sources at the Tribune expect an announcement on Mary Worth's future in July.
- Associated Press "'Little Orphan Annie' comic canceled by Tribune Media Services". New York Daily News, May 13, 2010