When you think of Annie, what do you think of? Do you think of the musical that so many love? Do you think of the movie-adapted versions of said musical? Do you think of the comic strip that was created in 1924? 

All answers are correct because people have gotten to know Annie for almost a century. Whether you remember her for her indomitable spirit, moral compass, or fiery red curls, Little Orphan Annie remains an important icon in American culture 100 years after the character’s debut in the namesake comic strip. “Little Orphan Annie” is turning 100 years old. Leapin Lizards! A Hundred Years of Little Orphan Annie is a captivating exhibit at the Lombard Historical Society inviting you to delve into the world of one of the most iconic comic strips of all time. This exhibit celebrates the centennial anniversary of Little Orphan Annie and her creator, Harold Gray (a resident of Lombard, Illinois). Witness this tribute to the enduring power of storytelling, the magic of comic art, and the nostalgia of a bygone era.

Harold Grey in Lombard with his wife at the Stewart House
Credit: Lombard Historical Society

The comic strip first appeared in syndication in The New York Daily News on August 5, 1924. Of the more than 40 comic strips running at the time, Little Orphan Annie became the fourth to feature a female in a prominent role. Defying gender stereotypes, Annie quickly became a beloved and unexpected heroine, known for her many adventures solving crimes alongside her dog Sandy — often persevering through dangerous situations. By the 1930s, Little Orphan Annie was one of the most popular strips in syndication. 

Gray was masterful at using Annie to embed his own political viewpoints, making Little Orphan Annie the first nationally syndicated comic with a political perspective. 1930 brought about another first when Little Orphan Annie became the first comic strip to be adapted for radio and first to be aired coast to coast. Written for children and drawing in six million young listeners, Little Orphan Annie became the biggest and most profitable children’s program of its time.

So, what is the significance of the little girl with the curly red hair? Little Orphan Annie teaches people about hope, joy and positivity amid adversity, and resilience. Set in the Great Depression, she teaches people about empathy and understanding across social classes. Her impact is everlasting and continues to capture the hearts of generations to come. Annie always reminds you that no matter what, the sun will come out tomorrow.

"Annie" Themed Events

Leapin' Lizards: 100 Years of Little Orphan Annie
April 27-December 23, 2024
Lombard Historical Society

Little Orphan Annie House Walk
June 22, 2024
Step into the pages of history and embark on a fascinating journey through the very neighborhoods and homes that once sheltered the brilliant mind behind the iconic comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie.”

Little Orphan Annie Pub Crawl
July 18, 2024
Don your red curls or dust off your vintage overalls and come along for a night filled with nostalgia.

"Annie"-Versary Birthday Party Celebration
July 30-August 3, 2024
Join the Lombard Historical Society for a week-long celebration for the anniversary of the beloved comic book character Little Orphan Annie.