It’s a well known fact that in the hey day of the studio system the studios usually signed similar actors to “back up” their main stars.
It seemed like an insurance policy. If the star became temperamental he or she could be replaced by the second stringer. And sometimes the second stringer would become a valuable asset on his or her own.
Recognize today’s second stringer, a backup to the enormously popular child star Shirley Temple? Why, she’s Jane Withers, and she definitely had a style all her own.
Withers was a sort of second banana at 20th Century Fox. (She is outstanding as that nasty brat — nearly upstaging Temple — in 1934’s Bright Eyes.)
Talk about being a child performer. She began on radio at age three, often featuring impersonations of such big stars as W.C. Fields and Charlie Chaplin. During the 1930’s, she established herself with such titles as Pepper and Angel’s Holiday, finishing the decade with a punch by being named No. 6 on a list of top 10 box office favorites. She was just 11 years old at the time.
Withers went on to a career lasting nearly 70 years (remember, she started very young) and covering some 71 credits. Withers was also an accomplished singer, and tv personality — best known for her “Josephine the Plumber” character in those 1970’s cleanser commercials.
Perky, vivacious and pretty curvy too. One of our favorite “second stringers.”