Saturday, August 30

kodak.com presents
Film star Jane Withers

Brownie pictures and the stories behind them
November 02, 2000


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NYMets: You had your first fan picture when you were 8. What movie was that from?

Jane Withers: That was from my first starring film "Ginger.” And oh, it meant so much to my mother and myself that the world seemed to receive that picture so beautifully. I also wrote a letter to W.C. Fields to let him know that I had done this film "Bright Eyes," and he wrote me a great letter back which I treasured. It said "Kid, you took the picture in the palm of your hand and ran away with it!" And when I started my first starring film "Ginger" on my 8th birthday there were two HUGE bouquets of flowers that were sent to me and I stopped the man that delivered them and said "Sir, you've made a terrible mistake, I'm sure these flowers were meant for Shirley Temple, and she's way down the other end of the lot." So, I said, "Are you sure?" He said, I'm positive, open up the card and see who they are from. So I did, and it said "Dear Little Friend Jane, Congratulations! I know you're going to knock them dead in “Ginger,” and you're going to have a fantastic career. God Bless You, and have a fantastic career, I'm your number one fan! Love, W.C. Fields." Wasn't that neat? I'm sure a lot of folks tuning in are sharing thoughts with me now, and heard that W.C. Fields hated kids. Well let me tell you, he did NOT. He was kind and thoughtful and wonderful to me. My darling friend Gloria Jean that made two pictures with him a few years later said the very same thing, and I just wanted the world to know what a terrific gentleman he was. Now, the second bouquet of flowers, I opened the card, and it said "To My Little Friend Jane, May God Bless You on your first starring role, I know you're going to become one of our national treasures, your fan, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt." And the reason he sent me the flowers when he was running for the presidency and was the governor of New York was; I was hired to do an impersonation of him and it was in a newsreel and it went all over the world and President Roosevelt saw it, and asked, who was that little girl that did the impersonation of him. He got my name and address, sent me a wonderful letter that I treasured, it was the first of many, because we became pen pals, but he sent me a button to wear, and he said "I hope your mom and dad will vote for me!" Now, I'd like to get to some questions about my Brownie Camera, and the first pictures my momma took with my Brownie Camera.

Ann: Which was your favorite movie role?

Jane Withers: Which decade are you speaking of? (laughing) No, seriously. I guess "Ginger" would have to be my favorite as a child star, but I worked for such a long time, and one of the biggest thrills in my life was working with George Stevens in the film "Giant," which he directed. It had been a dream of mine for many years to work with George Stevens, and that dream really came true when I did the film "Giant" with him in 1955.

Picbuff: Have you always had a big interest in photography?

Jane Withers: Oh my goodness, yes! And that was another gift from my wonderful mother! She took pictures from birth to the day she left this wonderful planet when she was 86 years old and taught me the meaning and the joy of wonderful photographs. From the time that I took over my first Brownie camera, I think you have a picture of that in the intro she showed, I am behind the camera, and I am taking a picture of my favorite teddy bear that I won in Jacksonville, Florida on the boardwalk and my Buster Brown doll and it was taken in my backyard in Atlanta, Georgia. But I'd like to share with you some of the Brownie photographs my mom took of me, and these were all in my baby book so I got that out to share the pictures with all of you who are tuning in.

This next picture is my precious dad holding me when I was 6 months old. Isn't that a doozy? Would you check the plump little baby in my grandmother's hatbox from Louisville, Kentucky and her dog? Snoopy Doodle is guarding me, see? I was round from the day I was born. Most little girls are pink and white and look adorable. I looked like a little baby Buddha. I was so round and had little rolls of fat on my arms and several chins already!

This one is with my mommy and me, this is the picture of my precious mother and myself, I was blessed with wonderful parents, and my mother was my guiding light. And accompanied me during my whole career. She took most of the photos that I'm sharing with you tonight, and these are all taken directly out of my baby book.

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