New York Daily News, August 5, 1924
Little Orphan Annie Test Comic Strip.
The New York Daily News is a Chicago Tribune owned company.
Chicago Tribune, November 2, 1924
The first Little Orphan Annie comic strip.
Chicago Tribune, October 28, 1925
Little Orphan Annie, that ingenious young miss whose absence from the paper yesterday caused more rumpus on the The Tribune switchboard than a world war, a big league baseball game or the bombing of a post office, returns today, safe and sound, and in duplicate.
For Mr. Harold Gray, Little Orphan Annie’s creator, will have two comic strips today.
And a score of tired telephone operators and a dozen weary office boys can sit down now, and rest.
The Voice of the People.
This youngster, who’s not a bit more than eleven years old, who’s not a bit influential and who’s name isn’t even in the telephone book, much less the social register, was left out of all of yesterday’s editions of The Tribune. And a public that would be served sent in so many queries over the wires that The Tribune switchboard piled up a record exceeding that busy day when the fake armistice was declared.
Stock brokers and music teachers; school children and city officials; wrathful men, apologetic women; everybody kept the wires humming with some overtone of the one big query:
- What’s happened to Little Orphan Annie?
Now, as a matter of fact, nothing happened to her.
Keeping Her in Her Place.
But the little lady, who started out her comic strip career in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Silo, the poor but loving farmers, has gone to live in the interior decorated mansion of the rich Mr. Warbucks. Annie was behaving herself right democratic like, what with salad forks and all. But it was thought that possibly she might be getting just a bit ritzy.
Accordingly, perhaps as a bit of discipline, but deliberately, the little girl with the big eyes, the short skirts and the shock of curly hair, was left out of the paper. No sooner had the first batch of papers sent out to the street corner than the telephone bell began to jingle. The jingles accumulated, until they became a symphony of “Orphan Annie Blues” by noon yesterday.
So Annie comes back today. Two strips of her.
How Will You Have Her?
There is still that question as to whether the public wants Annie poor, or Annie in a home of wealth. Well, how do you want her? Suppose you write us your ideas about it. Address your letter to the Syndicate Department, Chicago Tribune.
By the time the letters arrive at the Tribune Tower, the folks over here will have an opportunity to recuperate from yesterday’s strenuous life.
The First Alarm.
Monday, between the time the first edition was on the stands, minus Annie, and midnight, came twenty or more calls. From one in the morning until 8 the calls kept on coming. The dog watch editor, who ordinarily watches the wires for deaths of Presidents, assassinations of kings, and declarations of war, spent a frantic night reassuring a fretted clientele that all was well with Annie.
At eight yesterday morning when a day shift appeared to relieve this haggard man, the calls piled up so fast that office boys, photographers, secretaries, and some of the executives were pressed into service. At breakfast time it was the worst.
“We can’t eat breakfast without her,” wailed one woman.
“What am I going to tell the six kids? They always have to have it at breakfast,” this from an indulgent father.
Then came the office crowd.
In Full Cry.
“The men in this office want to know why it was left out. Give me a good reason or I’m in wrong with them,” a man besought of The Tribune operators.
Another: “I’m speaking for fifty men at Western Electric. We always discuss it before we go to work.”
The Evanston correspondent received calls from 38 subscribers in that suburb.
The Tribune was warned. “We’ll bomb your Tower if Annie isn’t back tomorrow.” The Tribune was advised to “square yourself and print two strips tomorrow.” The Tribune was admonished to “get out an extra, and sell thousands of papers.”
Well, Little Orphan Annie is back, safe, sound and in duplicate.
But she is still with that rich home. Do you want her left there? Or would you prefer to have her back in a more modest dwelling, with a poor family. Write a letter to the syndicate department. Annie’s sure to get it.
Editor & Publisher, April 10, 1926
Chicago Tribune, October 2, 1927
Editor & Publisher, February 24, 1951
Orphan Annie, the little girl of Harold Gray’s comic strip, has one fixed idea. It is simply this: “Keep your nose tidy!”
Annie arrived at this philosophy by sticking her nose into other people’s business for nearly 27 years. Even at the start, in the Fall of 1924, in Chicago, in the “age of innocence,” she was wise beyond her years. Harold Gray became 30 years older than his creation last Jan. 20. Looking back from this 57th birthday over the years, he opined that his own philosophy coincided closely with Annie’s. If there has been any moral behind the multifarious adventures experienced by the ageless orphan, it might best be summed up in that same inelegant expression, “Keep your nose tidy!”
Life As It Is
Mr. Gray, the Kankakee farm boy, now a plutocrat, but to his way of thinking “damned little changed by the years,” hopes there has been no moral at all. In writing and drawing the strip, he has aimed to picture life as it is. He has studied humanity.
After the farm, he was graduated from Purdue, worked on the paper for a while in Lafayette, Ind., began his long association with the Chicago Tribune in 1917.
In the Gray strip, Annie is the constant foil. Life flows by her like a river while she stands still. Floating on the tide are both the good and the bad. Annie sizes them up, but does not try to change them.
“God, deliver me from a reformer, even an honest one,” Mr. Gray ejaculated the other day. “I dislike preaching, and missionaries of any kind. I don’t mean religious missionaries, exclusively. They are bad enough. Worse, in my opinion, are communistic evangelists, or evangelists of democracy, or the capitalitic system.
Against Butting In
“Why can’t we leave each other alone? Butting into the other fellow’s business is a prime cause of trouble, misery and war.
“There are eternal verities easy enough for all to learn: tell the truth, work hard, save your money to be independent; in short,‘keep your nose tidy!’ And that’s enough!”
The millions who follow “Annie” in more than 275 daily and Sunday papers pay off the author artist handsomely; possibly for constantly mirroring the composite mind of the multitude.
The Gray income runs about $130,000 a year. He says he has to work hard from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week to keep paying his taxes to Uncle Sam. The 25-room Georgian mansion his comic creatures bought on Sasco Hill at Southport, Conn., was recently appraised at $750,000.
It’s up for sale. The Grays have bought another place across the bay from the present four-acre estate. The new 10-room house would just about fit in the living room at Southport, but it is set on 22 acres of land. A farm-born boy, Harold likes land. But doesn’t like farming, and doesn’t farm.
The Roving Kind
The Grays like to keep on the move. If it isn’t from one house to another, it is in their Lincoln touring the United States or Canada. One Summer they went abroad. But they prefer this side of the Atlantic, and “the long brown road, leading wherever you choose.”
Mr. Gray’s roots are deep in America. One ancestor migrated here from England in 1640. On his mother’s side, an Ebenezer Gray was a Colonel in Washington’s army. His father’s family came from England in the 1830’s.
Mr. and Mrs. Gray have no children. Their Siamese cat, “Loa” (the letters little Orphan Annie) is called “Kitty.” Mr. Gray’s mother is living with them now. She is seriously ill, and that keeps them all at home.
The Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate makes Mr. Gray keep a three months’ supply of strips ahead. On a trip, if he gets behind, he’ll “hole up” at a hotel for two or three days and catch up. His cousin, Bob Leffingwell does the letterings and puts in some of the backgrounds. Bob also has his own two strips, “Little Joe” and “The General.” Bob’s and Harold’s mothers are twin sisters. Bob is unmarried and lives in Fairfield, Conn.
His Only Collaborator
When Harold is in Southport, Bob comes to work every day at the Gray’s. They have two desks there in a book-lined study. Both can and do work while a radio blares. Television proved too disconcerting, and was banished upstairs. Bob is Harold’s only collaborator, if you can call him that. Harold thinks no one can illustrate another person’s ideas as well as the originator.
“I’m no artist,” he insists, “I’ve never gone to any art school. But I know what I want and do the best I can. Bob does the dirty work.”
It’s while traveling that Mr. Gray gets ideas for Annie’s adventures. The author calls himself “gregarious, not Party-going man, but a guy who likes people and likes to talk with them.” He stores up memories of the people he meets and the stories they tell.
He doesn’t take notes. Nor does he use the material he gathers very soon. Rather he lets it ferment in his mind.
“Once,” he recalled, “I had Annie mixed up with some fellows selling newspapers, high pressure stuff. I felt entirely satisfied and complimented when Max Annenberg, the circulation manager, called up and said, “that’s exactly the way it operates, that’s real. How did you know about it?”
On their trips, the Grays go incognito. He rarely visits a newspaper office, doesn’t make speeches. The only time he does stop off at a newspaper is when he wants to get some low-down from the reporters, for whom he maintains a vast respect.
“Like reporters, I try to be objective, to write and draw things as they are,” Mr. Gray told me. “Oh, I glorify a little once in a while, perhaps. Sometimes my gangsters have hearts of gold. But I have crooked politicians and honest ones, snobs, wastrels, gamblers, kind-hearted and cruel people, foolish and wise all living and fighting together, usually in a small town.”
Right now the small town is Puddle, up in the hills. The leading character, Mayor Bons, is not particularly pleasant. He’s never earned a nickel for himself, but thinks he’s hot stuff—a composite of different people Mr. Gray has met. It turned out that he appeared to be very real to one man in Boston, who threatened suit.
The syndicates’s lawyer called.
“Where did you get that name, Bons?”, he wanted to know.
“Don’t you see?”, said Mr. Gray. “It’s snob spelled backwards.”
“I’m writing the angry Mr. Bons a really good letter,” the lawyer said,”and that’s all I wanted to know.”
A common trick with Mr. Gray is to spell a name backwards. He doesn’t like to use ordinary names, because he’s bothered enough by people who all the time are recognizing themselves in a strip, and write about it. Some 20 have threatened suit. Only one, however, took the case into a court. On Mr. Gray’s advice, the syndicate refused to settle, and after several years of asking vainly for $10,000 for a damaged reputation, the plaintiff dropped the whole thing a short time ago.
The continuity that led to this suit concerned an Office of Price Administration (OPA) ration board head and and the similarity of names of a Gray character, symbolical of a snoop, and of an OPA man in Connecticut.
Other people enjoying identifying themselves with Gray’s true-to-life characters. Such a one was a Miss Clare Treat, head of a home of incorrigible children in Iowa. Mr. Gray had never met anyone by that name when he gave it to a terrible head of a girls’ home. The Iowa Treat was delighted.
Who Is Annie?
In the case of Annie herself, no one knows who her lost parents were, or at least no one is telling. Capt. Joseph M. Patterson, late editor of the New York Daily News, and Harold Gray were the obstetricians at her birth. Mr. Gray was on the Chicago Tribune at the time. He had been working with Sid Smith, helping him draw “The Gumps.” The Captain wanted a new strip for the News.
“Make it for grownup people, not for kids,” the Captain advised. “Kids don’t buy papers. Their parents do.”
Mr. Gray was enjoying his job on the Tribune. Most of all, he liked to roam Chicago streets with other newspaper men, stopping at their hangouts for a late snack. One early morning on the streets, he caught sight of a little gamin, quite evidently in the so-called age of innocence, wise as an owl.
“I talked to this little kid, and liked her right away,” he recalled. “She had common sense, knew how to take care of herself. She had to. Her name was Annie.
“At the time some 40 strips were using boys, as the main character; only three were using girls. I chose Annie for mine, and made her an orphan, so she’d have no family, no tangling alliances, but freedom to go where she pleased.
“Patterson and I worked over the first strips together. We kept clear of violent action, such as kids like, kept our stories as close to life as we could.”
Thus was Annie born, never to grow up, although some of today’s readers are grandchildren of the first who followed the strip.
Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1968
By Wayne Thomis
Harold Lincoln Gray, known to millions of men, women, and children around the world as the creator of “Orphan Annie,” died early yesterday in a La Jolla (Cal.) hospital. He had been ill for months with cancer, but had been in the hospital only three days. He was 74.
Altho he understood the serious of his illness, he continued to work at his drawing table and on his scripts for the cartoon character and her dog, Sandy, almost to the day of his death.
44 Years in Publication.
Annie had been in hundreds of newspapers and other publications around the world for almost 44 years, and Gray, almost alone, had produced the plots, the dialog, the character studies, and the drawings himself over this entire period. At the time of his death, the strip was 12 weeks ahead of its Sunday schedule and six weeks ahead of its daily preparations.
Spokesman for The Chicago Tribune’s news and cartoon syndicate in New York City said that Annie will continue. It is understood that a team will take up the adventures of Annie and Sandy, as Gray had repeatedly said he hoped would be done.
Annie in a way was Harold Gray’s child. He had none of his own in two marriages, but Annie was his ideal. For the entire time of her public appearances—the first cartoon was printed in The Tribune on Nov. 2, 1924—she remained the same age, about 12 years. Gray called it “the age of innocence.”
Through her adventures—and they ranged from the most violent to the most sentimental and prosaic—she expressed Gray’s personal convictions that all Americans should act with honor, independence of thought, industry, and the traditional pioneering virtues. In his hands, these values were translated into adventures that children and grownups alike could follow.
All Walks of Life.
One of his devices was to have Annie projected suddenly from life among great captains of industry and surroundings of luxury into situations where she dwelt with the poorest and most unfortunate. And she constantly shifted her zones of action from city to country-side so that she “rubbed elbows with people in extreme walks of life.”
Gray and Annie projected only a slightlly intensified picture of the world as a good many people apparently see it. Once long ago about a year after Annie first appeared in The Chicago Tribune, the editors left the strip out of the paper for one day.
Flood of Protests.
It came at a time when Annie’s universal appeal was not recognized. The editors did not know that she had been taken to the public’s heart, almost as a real child. But they soon discovered.
Reaction of the readers was immediate. A flood of mail, telegrams, and telephone calls to the paper swamped all facilities.
Next day The Tribune carried a page one apology for the omission and two strips—one for the day missed. And she been in the paper every day since.
Gray was born in Kankakee, Ill., Jan. 20, 1894. He was graduated from Purdue university and a week later got a job on this newspaper for $15 a week as a cub reporter.
He was soon in The Tribune art department. After a short period in the army, he returned and began a five-year apprentice period as assistant to Sydney Smith, then producing “The Gumps,” one of The Tribune’s most popular strips.
A number of early Gray cartoon strips were submitted to Capt. Joseph Patterson, then head of The Tribune’s features department and co-publisher with the late Robert R. McCormick. Gray himself said:
- Finally Capt. Joe weakened and let Annie appear first in the New York News (The Tribune followed almost immediately) but nobody had any particular faith in her until that day when they left her out.
Services Are Tomorrow.
Gray moved to New York in the late 1920s after the death of his first wife in 1925. He remarried in 1929, and Mrs. Helen Winifred Gray survives him. For many years the Grays lived at Green Farms, Conn. This home was sold on March 14, and the Grays, with the cartoonists’ cousin, Robert Leffingwell, who had assisted him with background and lettering on the strip, moved to La Jolla.
The body will be flown here today and visitation will be at the Jordan chapel beginning at 5 p.m. Dr. Elam Davies, Fourth Presbyterian church, will conduct ceremonies at the Jordan chapel at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
Chicago Tribune, June 26, 1955
One of several of Annie’s arcs mentioning Chicago’s Smoky Hollow neighborhood, now known as River North.
BBC News, 14 June 2010
The Little Orphan Annie comic strip has appeared in US newspapers for the last time after 86 years in print.
Tribune Media Services, the company behind the syndicated strip, has pulled the plug on Annie, her dog Sandy, and wealthy benefactor Daddy Warbucks. But the well-loved character, who inspired a musical and film, still has a future in the digital age.
“Annie is not dying, she’s moving into new channels,” said Steve Tippie, of Tribune Media.
He added that there was a “huge awareness” of Annie among the public, and future plans included graphic novels, film, TV, games—maybe even a home on a mobile phone.
“Annie is one of those iconic characters in American culture,” Tippie said. “If you stop 10 people on the street, nine of them will drop down on one knee and start singing Tomorrow.”
The strip was the brainchild of cartoonist Harold Gray who created the nine-year-old orphan with an unruly crop of red hair.
Annie bounced from one adventure to another, battling greedy bankers, ruthless gangsters or Nazis, depending on the era.
Gray had two rules for his character. Annie could never reach a “happy ending” and she could never grow up.
The Annie franchise grew to include a 1930s syndicated radio show, a 1977 Broadway musical – which gave the world songs such as It’s The Hard-Knock Life and Tomorrow – a 1982 movie, and a 1995 commemorative stamp.
Hundreds of US newspapers carried the comic strip at the height of its popularity, but fewer than 20 carried Sunday’s final strip, which saw Annie left in the clutches of a Balkans war criminal.
“The appeal of Annie is simply that she doesn’t give up,” said Ted Slampyak, the strip’s artist for the last six years.
“She always ends up in one scrape after another. She doesn’t have a lot of resources but she has a lot of spirit, a lot of pluck. She’s got a lot of fight in her.”1
Chicago Tribune, June 23, 2010
Orphan Annie’s Home
The end of the Little Orphan Annie comic is poignant to the village of Lombard, as Little Orphan Annie was “born” here. Harold Gray created the spunky redheaded girl in 1924 while residing at 215 S. Stewart Ave. in Lombard. Gray commuted to his job at the Chicago Tribune on the train, passing the Ovaltine factory in Villa Park each day.
Lombard even boasts a lovely home affectionately nicknamed “Annie House” at 119 N. Main St. Harold Gray purchased this Victorian home for his parents in 1925 and moved in with them after the death of his second wife. Gray used this house as a model for the mansion in the comic strip. Additionally, both of Gray’s wives were Lombard residents before marrying Gray.—Leslie Sulla, Public Awareness chair, Lombard Historical Society.
Chicago Tribune, April 5, 1931
W-G-N Radio Presents Little Orphan Annie.
“Little Orphan Annie” is to make her bow to a national radio audience.
The radio skit, which is identified with the comic strip of the same name appearing daily in The Chicago Tribune, will make its first appearance on an NBC net tomorrow.Each afternoon between 4:30 and 4:45 central standard time, excepting Sunday, listeners may follow Annie’s adventures through the following stations:
- WJZ, New York; WBZ, Boston; WBZA, Springfield, Mass; KDKA, Pittsburgh; WGAR, Cleveland, and WBAL, Baltimore.
The same program will be broadcast by W-G-N between 5:45 and 6 p.m., as it is now. Pierre Andre will continue to announce the feature.
Shirley Is Delighted,
Probably no one was more excited about the NBC contract than little Shirley Bell, 10 year old Orphan Annie, and Allan Baruck, 12, the Joe Corntassel of the script. “Gee, I can hardly believe it,” little Shirley told Quin Ryan when he informed her of the good news. The other two important characters in the sketch are Jerry O’Meara, who takes the part of Byron Silo, and Henrietta Tedro, who is Mrs. Silo.
On the Air Four Months.
Shirley Bell, who is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Bell, 5125 Ingleside avenue, attends the Kozminski Elementary school, 936 East 54th street. Her pal in the sketch, Allan Baruck, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Baruck, 5566 West Van Buren street. Allan is an underclassman at Austin High school, 5417 West Fulton street.
“Little Orphan Annie” is going network less than four months after making her initial appearance on the air. Other W-G-N artists and features whom Orphan Annie is following to NBC include the Three Girls, “Cara, Lu ‘n’ Em,” the Ashley Sisters, “The Sisters of the Skillet,” Ed East and Ralph Dumke; “Tom, Dick and Harry,” Floyd Gibbons, the “headline hunter,” and “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” who were “Sam ‘n’ Henry” on W-G-N.2
Chicago Tribune, December 13, 1931
Orphan Annie and Joe Corntassel celebrated a birthday last Tuesday. Dec. 8 marked the first anniversary of Orphan Annie’s radio appearance. Annie can look back on that first year with pride. She has gained a host of friends and each week received many letters from her audience. Sponsors presented Annie and Joe with wrist watches on the anniversary. Annie in real life is Shirley Bell aqnd Joe is Allan Baruck. They appear each evening over W-G-N except Sunday at 5:45.
Chicago Tribune, January 26, 2010
In the minds of boys and girls in the 1930s, Shirley Bell Cole was a plucky little redhead engaged in thrilling adventures she punctuated with exclamations like, “Leapin’ lizards!”
In real life, Mrs. Cole was a dark-haired girl from Chicago whose job playing radio’s “Little Orphan Annie” helped support a handful of families struggling through the Depression.
She didn’t even care much for Ovaltine, the show’s sponsor.
But she was, in many ways, just as indomitable as the fictional heroine to whom she gave her voice. Six days a week, she boarded a bus or streetcar for the trip downtown to tape two 15-minute segments. Knowing that many people depended on her paycheck, she performed like a seasoned pro and missed only one performance during a decade of work, said her daughter, Lori Cole.
Mrs. Cole, 89, died of natural causes Tuesday, Jan. 12, in Arizona, her daughter said.
“Little Orphan Annie” aired before radio ratings were taken, but the show’s immense popularity could be measured by the success of the promotional deals it advertised for Ovaltine.
When a Little Orphan Annie decoder could be had for the seals from two jars of Ovaltine, hundreds of thousands of kids sucked down their malted milk and sent in to claim one.
The show was produced by Ovaltine’s advertising agency, which shielded child actors from fan mail and other indications of their popularity, said Chuck Schaden, the longtime host of old-time radio programs in Chicago.
Years later, Mrs. Cole was amazed at the attention she received at old-time radio conventions and shows, Schaden said.
“She really was a radio icon,” Schaden said.
Shirley Bell was born on the South Side, but she lived in a series of apartments through her childhood as her extended family found ways to make ends meet, said Susan Cox, who collaborated with Mrs. Cole on a book about her radio memories.
She had a classic stage mother and was singing in the synagogue while still a tot, Cox said. By the age of 6 she was on radio, a medium still in its infancy.
When the call went out for a girl to play Little Orphan Annie, a popular comic by Harold Gray, hundreds of girls auditioned. Mrs. Cole gave a reading with an enthusiasm that embodied the character and was immediately hired, Cox said.
For nearly 10 years, first on WGN-AM and then on the NBC network, Annie, her adoptive father Daddy Warbucks, dog Sandy and good chum Joe Corntassle entertained children gathered around the radio in the late afternoon.
Mrs. Cole, who was 10 when she took the role, continued to play Annie even as she moved through her teenage years, showing up for rehearsals and live broadcasts after classes at Lake View High School.
“My first vacation wasn’t until 1940,” she told the Tribune in 1979. “Eventually, I had to drop out of high school and finish with a tutor.”
Her paycheck was doled out among several families. While she later said she had fun with the people she worked with, she knew she missed out on a lot of normal childhood activities.
“She looked back and said she really didn’t have a childhood, and she regretted that,” Schaden said.
When Little Orphan Annie was replaced by Captain Midnight around 1940, Mrs. Cole was essentially finished with radio (this sentence as published has been corrected in this text).
She married Irwin Cole, a businessman, and raised three daughters in north suburban Glencoe. Every now and then, she pulled out the curly red wig she wore for appearances as Annie, much to her children’s amusement.
Mrs. Cole’s husband died in 1998. Her daughter declined to provide details on surviving family members.
Services will be private.
Little Orphan Annie
Episode 0919 “To Work”
October 22, 1935
- Who’s that little chatter box?
The one with pretty auburn locks?
Whom do you see?
It’s Little Orphan Annie!
She and Sandy make a pair
They never seem to have a care!
Cute little she,
It’s Little Orphan Annie
Bright eyes, cheeks a rosy glow,
There’s a store of healthiness handy.
Mite-size, always on the go,
If you want to know–“Arf,” it’s Sandy!
Always wears a sunny smile,
Now, wouldn’t it be worth the while,
If you could be
Like Little Orphan Annie
-Lyrics of “Little Orphan Annie” radio show song
- 1The “cliffhanger” ending was resolved in 2014, when Dick Tracy—another Tribune strip—continued “Daddy” Warbucks’s search for his missing adoptee. The trench-coated detective found her alive and well. She continues to appear sporadically in the Tracy strip, still devoid of any pupils.
2 The Little Orphan Annie radio show was initially sponsored by Ovaltine, a flavored milk supplement, and its scripts were written by Ovaltine’s Chicago ad agency, Blackett-Sample-Hummert. They shunned the overt political themes of Gray’s newspaper strips and concentrated instead on pitching Ovaltine, using almost seven minutes of each broadcast to do so. Fans could redeem Ovaltine proofs of purchase for a secret decoder badge that decoded brief messages airing in the last moments of the show. Contrary to Jean Shepherd’s assertions from the movie “A Christmas Story,” the messages were never advertisements for Ovaltine, but usually related to the following episode. In 1940, Quaker Puffed Wheat Sparkies became the show’s sponsor and brought fictional aviator Captain Sparks to the show. Sparks eventually became the star, relegating Annie to secondary player.
The show featured product placement and exploitation of premiums to retain and attract new listeners. Among those items were secret decoders, shake-up mugs for drinking Ovaltine (the show’s sponsor product) and secret decoder rings for the Little Orphan Annie secret society. The 1934 fan club’s member’s handbook included a simple substitution cipher with a resulting numeric cipher text. This was followed the next year with a membership badge or pin that included a cipher disk – enciphering the letters A-Z to numbers 1-26. Announcer Pierre Andre often talked about the virtues of the shows’ products, sometimes stretching towards three minutes in length