Jane Withers, a legend of Hollywood's Golden Age who starred alongside Shirley Temple and James Dean, has died at 95.
The star's daughter confirmed that she died in Burbank, Calif., on Saturday while surrounded by loved ones.
"My mother was such a special lady. She lit up a room with her laughter, but she especially radiated joy and thankfulness when talking about the career she so loved and how lucky she was," Withers' daughter Kendall Errair said in a statement to People.
Born in Atlanta on April 12, 1926, Withers began honing her skills as a tap dancer when she was two years old. She went on to win a local contest that saw her cast in the children's show "Aunt Sally's Kiddie Revue." At age three Withers had managed to secure her own radio show. She crept into the hearts of her audience by singing, dancing, joking and impersonating movie stars while also interviewing the occasional celebrity.
At age six, her mother, who had always dreamed of having a daughter who would become a star, moved them to Los Angeles just before Jane's sixth birthday so she could pursue a career in Hollywood.
"Mother was determined to have only one child, a girl, who would go into show business, which she had wanted to do so much herself," Withers told People in a 1974 interview.
"In fact, Mother turned down several marriage proposals because the men wouldn't go along with the plan," she continued. "When she was carrying me she'd study movie marquees trying to decide on a name to go with Withers. She taught me to sing, although she doesn't sing on pitch herself. Luckily I do, although I never know what key I'm singing in. She'd take me to the movies when I was two and three so I could learn."
Withers' first film appearance came in 1934 when she was cast alongside Temple in "Bright Eyes."
The following year she got her first starring role, at age nine, in "Ginger." The actress appeared in various other films before retiring at 21 to focus on starting a family. After two marriages and raising five children, she returned to Los Angeles to attend film school at the University of Southern California in 1955. The following year she was cast alongside James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson in "Giant."
Withers' career slowed down after that but she still appeared in commercials for Comet as Josephine the Plumber between 1963 to 1974.
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