Little Orphan Annie was a daily American comic strip created by Harold Gray and syndicated by Tribune Media Services. It took its name from the 1885 poem "Little Orphant Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley, and debuted on August 5, 1924 in the New York Daily News.
The plot follows the adventures of Annie, her dog Sandy, and her benefactor Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks. Secondary characters include Punjab, the Asp and Mr. Am. The strip attracted adult readers with political commentary targeting (among other things) organized labor, the New Deal and communism.
Little Orphan Annie was adapted to a 15-minute radio show debuting on WGN Chicago in 1930 going national on NBC's Blue Network beginning April 6, 1931. One of the first comic strips adapted to radio, it attracted about 6 million fans leaving the air in 1942.
In 1931 radio had yet to establish coast-to-coast networks so two separate casts performed, one in San Francisco starring Floy Margaret Hughes and the other in Chicago starring Shirley Bell as Annie, Stanley Andrews as "Daddy", and Allan Baruck (and later Mel Tormé) as Joe Corntassel. When coast to coast networking was established in 1933, the Chicago cast became the permanent one. Bobbe Dean briefly played the character in 1934-35 during a contract dispute between the studio and Bell, and Janice Gilbert portrayed Annie from 1940 to 1942. Leonard Salvo was the show's organist.
The show was initially sponsored by Ovaltine, a flavored milk supplement, and its scripts were written by Ovaltine's Chicago ad agency staff. 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 ring or badge that decoded brief messages airing in the last moments of the show. 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. (Source: wikipedia.org)