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Happy Birthday, Anne Whitfield!


At the height of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show’s popularity, radio audiences were often curious to know whether the children on the program—based on the couple’s real-life offspring, Alice Faye and Phyllis Wanda Harris—were played by their actual daughters in the same manner as the sons of another bandleader and his wife on their sitcom (referring, of course, to David and Ricky Nelson). Old-time radio devotees know, of course, that the role of “Little” Alice was essayed by Jeanine Roos…and in the part of young Phyllis, a radio veteran who began her long show business career at the age of seven by uttering the words: “I want another slice of bread.” This actress is none other than Anne Whitfield, and she turns seventy-six today.

whitfield2Anne was born on this date in Oxford, Mississippi…but her radio career kicked off when her parents migrated to California in August of 1945. Her entry into show business was a bit unconventional; she had no professional contacts or experience in the field, but that didn’t stop her mother from knocking on doors, trying to see anyone who would give her daughter an audition. One door that was not shut in the Whitfields’ face belonged to Carlton E. Morse, the creative force behind I Love a Mystery and One Man’s Family. Morse had received a letter from Mrs. Whitfield and he allowed young Anne to read some Family scripts as an audition. Anne performed in the show’s commercial (that’s where the slice of bread comes in) and two weeks afterward had been assigned the role of Penny, the daughter of Claudia and Nick. Whitfield enjoyed a long association with One Man’s Family; she played Penny on the radio version till nearly the end of its long broadcast run…and when the program briefly transitioned to TV, she played the part of Claudia (Penny’s radio mom!).

whitfield4Numerous radio jobs followed in the wake of Anne’s success on Family: she appeared on such soap operas as Doctor Paul (indulging in a bit of transgenderism by emoting as young Christopher Martin) and Doorway to Life, and made the rounds on such series as The Lux Radio Theatre, The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater, Family Theater, The Great Gildersleeve, The Life of Riley, The Halls of Ivy and Cavalcade of America. She also worked with radio comedians George Burns & Gracie Allen, Jack Carson and Fanny Brice—on Brice’s Baby Snooks series, Anne was frequently heard as the snobbish Pamela Richardson, daughter of the local banker (played by Alan Reed). She later replaced actress Gloria McMillan as Harriet Conklin on the radio version of Our Miss Brooks in the program’s final years.

whitfield8Anne Whitfield’s signature role was as the younger daughter of Phil Harris and his actress wife, Alice Faye on their hit series…and she handled much of the program’s sharply written dialogue like a consummate pro. In the classic Christmas broadcast where Jack Benny is recruited to play Santa Claus, Little Alice can be heard admonishing her sister not to backslide on her good behavior or else she won’t receive any of Jolly St. Nick’s gift largesse. “Don’t crack up now,” Little Alice warns her younger sib, “you’ve been so good for so long.” “I know,” retorts Phyllis. “But as Daddy always says, ‘It ain’t been easy, Clyde.’”

whitfield6Anne would play Phyllis when the Harris-Faye show began as The Fitch Bandwagon in the fall of 1946, and went the distance until The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show left the airwaves in June of 1954. That same year, Anne Whitfield played young Susan Waverly in the popular holiday movie White Christmas; Anne’s movie career wasn’t quite as prolific as the one on radio, but she graced such gems as The Gunfighter (1950), The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952), Juvenile Jungle (1958), Senior Prom (1958) and The New Interns (1964). Fans of classic TV shows will also come across her many guest appearances on hit series such as Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Bonanza, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Gunsmoke, Rawhide and Perry Mason. Anne remained true to her radio roots, appearing on such revival shows as Heartbeat Theatre and The Hollywood Radio Theatre. She’s also been a frequent (and most welcomed) presence at old-time radio conventions and reenactments.

20739Here at Radio Spirits, we’ve got plenty of collections featuring Anne Whitfield’s stellar radio work—and there’s no better place to start than with such Phil Harris-Alice Faye sets as our latest release, Smoother and Sweeter…not to mention Private Lives, Wonga, Hotel Harris, Quite an Affair and Family Values. In addition, check out her guest appearances on the likes of Let George Do It (Enter Mr. Valentine), The Man Called X, The Halls of Ivy and The Saint (The Saint Takes the Case). Happy birthday, Anne—and the best returns of the day to you!


  1. carrico says:

    Finally: Somebody who isn’t dead.

    • David M Perry says:

      Hi Anne, just saw you in Gunsmoke and loved you! I could not have played the man hurting you no matter how much they paid me. You’re beautiful!

    • Just saw your comment about memories and also that you were born in Oxford Mississippi. You and I were born there about the same time and you left in45 and I stayed until 1960. I was just curious about who your folks were and you and I might have gone to grammar school together the old Oxford Elementary school. Any chance of that? Would like to hear back from you and if you have been back to Oxford since you left. Happy birthday and have a very merry Christmas

  2. Anne Whitfield says:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, Radio Spirits! I assure you, Carrico, I’m not a spirit yet. Who wrote this sketch of me? Great job. Good detective work. How did you find that photo of me at 10 with my butterfly collection?
    This blog brought back lots of good memories for me, too. A friend found it and let me know. It’s amazing (and gratifying) that so many people still appreciate the stories we told in those days, only through sound.

    • Mike Callahan says:

      Just watched ‘White Christmas” and it it a strange thing to see someone for the fist time, so young, then find how long ago when the movie was made and how the actress are now in their 70’s. Anne, you live in my memory as a 19 year old. Happy Birthday!

    • Ms Whitfield,
      It was so great to read your post. You were an important part of “White Christmas” and we enjoy seeing you in the role. Where are you now? What are you doing? Any recent photos on the web? We would love to interview you for our Danny Kaye Facebook page (above). “White Christmas” fans would love to hear more about your later work and life on TV and movies and radio. Please e-mail us, if interested.
      Thanks !

    • Tom says:

      I just watched you in an episode of Bonanza, first season, episode 5. You were a delight! Did you get to meet Howard Duff?

    • Don Weber says:

      Wonderful to read your bio and see your response. I remember talking with you when we shouldn’t have in Mr. Tanner’s class at Hollywood High. Those were good days!

    • Cory says:

      Hi Anne! I’m catching White Christmas as I type this. One of my absolute favorite movies! I watch it year round! Glad to know you’re still around. That iconic moment when “Susan” sees her grandpa in his uniform was played so well by both you and Dean and so touching! God Bless you and Merry Christmas!

    • Irv Tishman says:

      As a teen, you were so wholesomely pretty. If they ever did a “Supergirl” series then, you were have been perfect.

    • Tim sheffield says:

      I recently saw you on 2 episodes of Perry Mason. These bbroughtb back memories You are a great actress. I remember thinking I had never seen a more beautiful young lady. I’m afraid I had a wild crush on you and wanted to see you in person. I hope you are doing well.

    • Sara Hayden says:

      Ms. Whitfield,
      The first time I saw you was in the movie White Christmas. It is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. I am glad to have found a list of other things you have been in and going to find them and watch them. I have a a question or two for you. What was it like to work with all those wonderful talented people like your self in the movie White Christmas?

  3. John Skowron says:

    Miss. Whitfield,White Christmas is my favorite movie, period. I am 58 and I have great memories of my dad and I would cry towards the end when the General comes into the inn with you. We tried to hide the tears from each other every year we watched it. I still tear up every time. What a great movie for Christmas,doing something for someone and not wanting anything in return. Thank you so much for a fantastic tradition every single year! I would love to talk to you. John

  4. White Christmas fan says:

    Thanks, Anne; you were a delight to watch in White Christmas – a show I see every year and am always thrilled.

  5. Nancy Levine says:

    I’m listening to the entire NBC University Theater series, and Anne was perfect in such dramatizations as “Manhattan Transfer” and “Babylon Revisited.” She always sounds so natural in the child roles.

  6. Alton Bell says:

    Anne: The re runs of Gunsmoke,are running here. The one I just viewed was Stagecoach Holdup Your acting husband was mean to you and you were sick pregnant. Doc stood up for you. So pretty, so beautiful. There were many close up’s of you. Enjoyed the episode even more because of your sweet character.

  7. Martha says:

    Hello, Does any one know how I can write Anne Whitfield please? I’d really love to see if she can sign a picture for me. Thanks!

  8. Bonnie David says:

    hello Anne Whitfield…my grandmother (Lillian Whitfield) said she had gone to lunch with you and it was determined that you and her husband Carl Whitfield are cousins… whether that is so or not…my 8 year old granddaughter (Mady) enjoys the thought of having someone as famous as you in our family…we watch White Christmas several times a year together and she never fails to comment…there’s our cousin Anne Whitfield!…Blessings to you and Happy Birthday in August…from Bonnie and Mady.

  9. Bob Slate says:

    Dear Mrs. Whitfield, Is it true that you once played “Little Beaver” on “The Red Ryder” radio show around 1950? If so, was that when Brooke Temple played Red Ryder?Were you temporarily replacing Johnny McGovern or Henry Blair, as “Little Beaver?” Best Wishes, Bob Slate

  10. Bob Slate says:

    Dear Anne, Thank you very much! It has to be Brooke Temple from this time period! I appreciate your immediate answer to my question! Best Wishes To You, Bob Slate

  11. Toby Barwick says:

    Loved all of the Perry Mason episodes in which Ms. Anne appeared, my favorite being The Case of the Ugly Duckling with its Bohemian overtones. I’ll be sure to check out all the movies listed at my earliest convenience. Thanks for the great performances and your support for a clean planet.

    • mark eckart says:

      Dear Ms Whitfield ,I’m such a huge fan of the movie white Christmas ,I have it on DVD and watch it many times during the holiday season ,I love the pine tree inn,in the film ,life was simpler then ,I was born in 1954,it’s a real classic and a feel good movie from the start to finish

  12. Steve Hester says:

    Do you remember anything about Oxford, Ms. You should see it now and the Gertrude
    Ford Theater on the Ole Miss campus. I have friends Billy Powell Tucker and Van East
    you may remember.

  13. Jed Roman says:

    My wife and I love White Christmas and watch it every year around Christmas. We were born in ‘54 when it was released making it extra special! It must have been fantastic to work with those fine actors. Best regards…Jed

  14. Kathleen says:

    Is there an address where I could write Ms. Anne Whitfield?

    • Ginnie Hirst-ireland says:

      I would love to hear from Anne Whitfield. We were in the same pledge class of Kappa Delta at UCLA. I’ve followed her career since graduating in 1958 and would love to share memories. I’m now 85, where did those years go? Would be so much fun!!Please try to find Annie for me. Thank you Ginnie Hirst-Ireland

  15. Will L says:

    Hi Ms Whitfield,

    I just saw an episode of ‘One Step Beyond’ which featured you in the lead. It was both moving and heartwarming. Your performance felt very authentic and heartfelt to me.

    Thank you!

  16. Derek Anthony says:

    Just saw you on Adam 12 you looked great in that episode from 1968. Glad you are still around you were born the same year as my mom who died in 1993.

  17. Bobby Pace says:

    MS Whitfield, just saw you on Cheyenne(with Clint Walker) as you were playing Mr. Dembro’s daughter Johnnie, and dealing with your crazy stepmother who had the hots for Cheyenne and you liked him also. I will always remember the ending where Cheyenne is getting ready to mount his horse and ride away and he picks you up around the waist like you were a feather and plants a big kiss on your lips. I always thought it would have been nice when they ended Cheyenne that he could have swung by the ranch that you now owned and you two could have rode off together into the sunset.

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