Little Annie Rooney is a comic strip about a young orphaned girl who traveled about with her dog, Zero. King Features Syndicate launched the strip on January 10, 1927, not long after it was apparent that the Chicago Tribune Syndicate had scored a huge hit with Little Orphan Annie. The name comes from the 1889 popular song of the same name, still familiar to many at the time.
Although the King Features strip was an obvious knock-off with several similar parallels, the approach was quite different, and Little Annie Rooney had a successful run from 1927 to 1966. The strip’s creators over the years included Ed Verdier (1927–28), Ben Batsford (1930), Sunday strips by Nicholas Afonsky (1934–43), writer Brandon Walsh (1931–53) and Darrell McClure (1930–66). McClure’s assistants were Bob Dunn and Fran Matera.
The name was popularized in a 19th-century song by Michael Nolan. After Nolan sang “Little Annie Rooney” in English music halls in 1890, Annie Hart (aka “The Bowery Girl”) brought it to the United States. When she performed at New York’s London Theatre, the song became a hit, but the absence of any international copyright laws kept Nolan from collecting royalties.
There is also a Scottish saying: “She is having an Annie Rooney,” which means that someone is displaying rage and anger. Annie Rooney’s pet expression was “Gloriosky!” That unique G-rated expletive and Little Orphan Annie’s “Leapin’ lizards!” both found their way into the Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim song, “Gee, Officer Krupke!”, from West Side Story.
Harvey Kurtzman had both Annies in mind when he created his satirical Little Annie Fanny for Playboy, though the ribald parody owed far more to the original Harold Gray strip.
James Joyce referred to Little Annie Rooney early in the first chapter of Finnegans Wake: “Arrah, sure, we all love little Anny Ruiny, or, we mean to say, lovelittle Anna Rayiny, when unda her brella, mid piddle med puddle, she ninnygoes nannygoes nancing by.”
130 strips 1940
43 strips 1941
11 strips 1942
49 strips 1943
9 strips various