Anne Shirley (actress)

Anne Shirley

from the trailer for the film
Vigil in the Night (1940)
Born Dawn Evelyeen Paris
(1918-04-17)April 17, 1918
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died July 4, 1993(1993-07-04) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names Dawn O'Day
Occupation Actress
Years active 19221944
Spouse(s) John Payne (19371943) (divorced) 1 child
Adrian Scott (19451948) (divorced)
Charles Lederer (19491976) (his death) 1 child
Children Julie Payne
Daniel Lederer

Anne Shirley (April 17, 1918 July 4, 1993) was an American film actress and former child actress.

Beginning her career as a child actress under the stage name Dawn O'Day, Shirley adopted the name of the character she played in the film adaptation of Anne of Green Gables in 1934,[1] and achieved a successful career in supporting roles. Among her films is Stella Dallas (1937), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She retired from acting in 1944, at the age of 26. She remained in Los Angeles, where she died at the age of 75.[2]

Early life

Born as Dawn Evelyeen Paris, in New York City, she began acting under the name of Dawn O'Day.[2] As a baby she began modeling, and made her film debut with a featured role in 1922's Moonshine Valley.[3] She began acting at the age of five, and had a highly successful child star career in Pre-Code movies, appearing in such films as Liliom, Tom Mix's Riders of the Purple Sage, So Big, Three on a Match and Rasputin and the Empress.


In 1934 she starred as the character of Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables, and took that character's name as her stage name.

After adopting the name Anne Shirley, she starred in Steamboat 'Round the Bend, Make Way for a Lady and Stella Dallas, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Later roles were in such movies as Vigil in the Night, Anne of Windy Poplars, The Devil and Daniel Webster and Murder, My Sweet, her final film. Of her portrayal in Saturday's Children, The New York Times commented that she "endows the little wife with heroic integrity and strength of character."[4]

Personal life

Shirley married actor John Payne August 22, 1937, in Montecito, California.[5] They had a daughter, former actress Julie Payne.

Her second husband was film producer and screenwriter Adrian Scott. When he was blacklisted and decided to move the family to Europe, at the last minute she wrote him a "Dear John" letter saying she'd rather stay behind and divorce him.[6] Her third husband was Charles Lederer, nephew of Marion Davies. They had a son named Daniel Lederer. Shirley had also a brief relationship with younger western star Rory Calhoun and another with French movie star Jean-Pierre Aumont.

Shirley died from lung cancer in Los Angeles, aged 75 on July 4, 1993 and was cremated. For her contributions to the motion picture industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7020 Hollywood Blvd.


Shirley as "Alice", with Julius the Cat, in a scene from Alice's Egg Plant (1925)
Shirley in Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Year Film Role Notes
1922 The Hidden Woman Girl as Dawn O'Day
Moonshine Valley Nancy as Dawn O'Day
1923 The Rustle of Silk Girl as Dawn O'Day
The Spanish Dancer Don Balthazar Carlos as Dawn O'Day
1924 The Man Who Fights Alone Dorothy as Dawn O'Day
The Fast Set Little Margaret as Dawn O'Day
1925 Riders of the Purple Sage Fay Larkin uncredited
Alice's Egg Plant Alice as Dawn O'Day
1927 Night Life Daughter of War Profiteer as Dawn O'Day
The Callahans and the Murphys Mary Callahan as Dawn O'Day
1928 Mother Knows Best Sally, as a child as Dawn O'Day
4 Devils Marion, as a girl as Dawn O'Day
Sins of the Fathers Mary, as a child as Dawn O'Day
1930 City Girl Marie Tustine as Dawn O'Day
Liliom Louise as Dawn O'Day
1931 Gun Smoke Horton's Daughter as Dawn O'Day
Hello Napoleon The Little Girl as Dawn O'Day
Howdy Mate - as Dawn O'Day
Rich Man's Folly Anne, as a child as Dawn O'Day
1932 Emma Isabelle as a Child uncredited
Young America Girl as Dawn O'Day
So Big! Selina Peake, as a Child uncredited
The Purchase Price Sarah Tipton, the Daughter uncredited
Three on a Match Vivian Revere as a Child as Dawn O'Day
Rasputin and the Empress Princess Anastasia uncredited
1933 The Life of Jimmy Dolan Mary Lou uncredited
1934 This Side of Heaven Flower Girl as Dawn O'Day/Scenes deleted
Picture Palace Dawn as Dawn O'Day
School for Girls Catherine Fogarty
Finishing School Billie as Dawn O'Day
Private Lessons Dawn as Dawn O'Day
The Key Flower Girl as Dawn O'Day
Bachelor Bait Miriam Ann Johnson, Marriage License Applicant uncredited
Anne of Green Gables Anne Shirley
1935 Chasing Yesterday Jeanne Alexandre
Steamboat Round the Bend Fleety Belle
1936 Chatterbox Jenny Yates
M'Liss M'liss Smith
So and Sew -
Make Way for a Lady June Drew
1937 Too Many Wives Betty Jackson
Meet the Missus Louise Foster
Stella Dallas Laurel "Lollie" Dallas Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1938 Condemned Women Millie Anson
Law of the Underworld Annabelle Porter
Mother Carey's Chickens Nancy Carey
Girls' School Natalie Freeman
A Man to Remember Jean Johnson
1939 Boy Slaves Annie
Sorority House Alice Fisher
Career Sylvia Bartholomew
1940 Vigil in the Night Lucy Lee
Saturday's Children Bobby Halevy
Anne of Windy Poplars Anne Shirley
1941 West Point Widow Nancy Hull
Unexpected Uncle Kathleen Brown
The Devil and Daniel Webster Mary Stone
1942 Four Jacks and a Jill Karanina 'Nina' Novak
The Mayor of 44th Street Jessey Lee
1943 Ona zashchishchayet rodinu Pasha English voice
Lady Bodyguard A.C. Baker
The Powers Girl Ellen Evans
Bombardier Burton Hughes
Government Girl May Harness Blake
1944 Man from Frisco Diana Kennedy
Music in Manhattan Frankie Foster
Murder, My Sweet Anne Grayle
Government Girl Mary Harness Blake


  1. "Anne Shirley At Weller". The Times Recorder. Ohio, Zanesville. July 7, 1940. p. 16. Retrieved July 13, 2016 via
  2. 1 2 Shipman, David (October 22, 2011). "Obituary: Anne Shirley". The Independent. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  3. "Information Desk". Modern Screen. July 1935. p. 10. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  4. Crowther, Bosley (1940-05-04). "THE SCREEN; John Garfield and Anne Shirley Seen at Strand in 'Saturday's Children'--'Star Dust' at Roxy". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. para. 4. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  5. "Anne Marries". News-Journal. Ohio, Mansfield. United Press. August 23, 1937. p. 10. Retrieved July 13, 2016 via
  6. "The Red and the Blacklist" by Norma Barzman.

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