Jon Merrill's "Annie" Movie Trivia

How the Bridge scene was done

The abandoned railroad bridge that Annie and Rooster climbed still exists in East Newark, New Jersey. It is clearly visible from I-280 looking north as you are crossing the Stickel bridge. It is also similarly visible if you are on the train going to or from Hoboken. That was NOT Aileen climbing way up high; it was an extremely short stuntman named Bobby Porter who makes his living doing movie stunts for children. He put on the red dress and climbed all the way up (Rooster and Punjab were also played by stuntmen in the scene). Aileen still had to climb up herself for the first few feet, however. Note in the faraway shots of the Bridge climb in the movie; Annie's muscular thighs are definitely not the thighs of a 10-year-old girl! The closeup bridge scenes were done later with the real actors on a mock-up of the top of the Bridge on a set in California and spliced in with the faraway shots by the movie editors. Mrs. Quinn told us that the Bridge model in the Burbank studio was still several feet off the floor, and she had to watch as Aileen dangled during the closeup scenes. The scariest part of the Bridge scene for Aileen was the landing. The stuntmen did the scene with the helicopter, but the landing at the end obviously had to be done with the real actors. This was accomplished by a crane off camera, with a dangling Geoffrey Holder holding Aileen 10 or 12 feet above the ground, and then being lowered into the arms of Albert Finney and Ann Reinking. A picture of how this was done is in the book "Annie on Camera."

A short tour of the Warbucks Mansion

The Warbucks Mansion is the administration building on the campus of Monmouth College in West Long Branch, New Jersey. It was rented out to the movie company for about four months during filming, and many of the administrative people were relocated outside in temporary buildings. For the ones who remained inside, however, they had to stop typing and talking whenever the siren sounded, which signaled that a take was being done. Only the first floor of the building was used, along with a couple of rooms on the second floor. The room where Warbucks confronts the Mudges was on the first floor, but his office where Annie flies the toy airplane is on the second floor. There is a balcony outside that room where Punjab throws the bomb, and also where Warbucks sings the "Maybe" reprise as the Mudges drive off with Annie and Sandy. Annie's bedroom is on the second floor, not far from the pipe organ she plays. Both my co-editor on "Annie People," Tricia Trozzi, and I, Jon Merrill, made an exhaustive search of the Mansion for Grace's dressing room, to no avail. Tricia met Ann Reinking several years later at a Broadway show Ann was doing, and found out that the dressing room was a set in Burbank and was not in the Mansion at all. The pool was in the basement of the Mansion, and we saw it about 1984, but a couple of years later it was closed over and replaced with classrooms. All four sides of the outside of the Mansion were seen at some point in the movie. The Mansion can be visited anytime by "Annie" movie fans, but the catch is that it is open only on weekdays when college is in session. However, to see it up close is a real adventure for anyone interested in the "Annie" movie, if you live anywhere near it. If you plan on going, write first and ask us for "Annie People" #57, May 1992, which gives detailed information on how to find everything. (Back to the Aileen Quinn Home Page and then back to Jon Merrill's Home Page will give you the e-mail address.)

Other locations in "Annie"

The Radio City scenes and the New York Public Library scenes during the Orphans' run up 5th Avenue (Tessie: "I can't run anymore") were on location. Don't look for 987 Fifth Avenue, though; it doesn't exist. The only parts of "Annie" that were not filmed on location--other than Grace's dressing room--were the Orphanage scenes; that was a set in California. The New York street scene outside the Orphanage was built by Dale Hennesy for a million dollars and is a permanent set. It has been used in numerous movies and TV shows ever since "Annie," and sharp-eyed "Annie" fans have spotted it. Hennesy died during filming, and the street--for which he received a posthumous Academy Award nomination--was renamed The Dale Hennesy Street.

The "Missing Molly Mystery" solved!

After Annie is in bed at the Mansion her first night there, a shot goes back to the Orphans back in the Orphanage room where they each sing a line of "Maybe." You may have noticed that for some strange reason Molly is not in the room. Where is Molly? Did she have to go "bafroom" during that scene? Was she in the paddle closet? Why isn't she seen? Here is what Toni Ann Gisondi told us in 1984 about that scene: That scene was originally part of the opening scene that was eventually scrapped by the editors. Annie climbs up in the window and sings "Maybe," as we all know. However, in the scene as originally filmed, Molly climbs up too and joins her in the window during the scene. The Orphans in bed each sing a line of the song too. The reason Molly isn't in the room is because she is off camera in the window with Annie! The editors decided they didn't like the beginning having Molly up there too and decided to redo it with just Annie by herself, to make sure the audience zeroed in right on Annie's character immediately. In November 1981 Carol Burnett and Annie and all six Orphans--including Lucie Stewart from England--were called back to California to reshoot the opening scene up until "It's The Hard-Knock Life" begins. But the part with all the Orphans singing a line of "Maybe" was so cute that they decided to hang onto it and throw it somewhere else in the film, which they did. And so, the kids in the film were actually at their oldest in the opening scene (this is why Toni Ann's teeth are completely grown in during this scene, whereas at the Mansion where she faints in Punjab's arms--which was filmed six months earlier--her teeth are only partially grown in. The other scene which was completely reshot after filming ended was "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile"; this is why Rosanne Sorrentino (Pepper) is wearing Miss Hannigan's smock in all the publicity shots for the scene but not in the movie as we see it.

Other trivia

The other two girls who made the final cut of 3 were Robin Ignico and Angela Lee. Robin, as we all know, was given the part of Duffy. Angela Lee had the misfortune of resembling Aileen too much, and they thought this would be confusing to the audience, so Angela was merely given an role as one of the extras. Near the beginning of the "Hard-Knock Life" sequence, a girl is sound asleep on her feet at the top of the stairs; that is Angela Lee.

There were 37 kids in the movie including the Orphan extras, and among them during filming, they lost 24 teeth. Several of the Orphan extras went on to star in movies of their own, such as Meredith Salenger, Shawnee Smith and Mandy Peterson. Some of the extras were brought in because of their gymnastics skills.

When Grace and Annie happily go out of Grace's dressing room singing "Let's Go to the Movies" and then down the stairs of the Mansion, they are traveling 3,000 miles and back in time several weeks! Remember, the dressing room was in California and the Mansion was in New Jersey, and the dressing room scene was filmed AFTER the Mansion scenes. Grace's underwear changes color at the split second between those two scenes; it is white in the dressing room and is black when she is coming down the stairs.

After Grace and Warbucks talk on the patio over breakfast about adopting Annie, Grace begins the song "We Got Annie." Look closely, and you'll see that she then has different shoes on. By the way, all that nice greenery and flowers was put there by the movie crews; you will not see it there if you visit today. Also, the song "We Got Annie" was NOT written especially for the movie; it had been part of the stage musical in its early pre-Broadway days and had been cut by the time the show opened on Broadway in 1977.

As we remember, Warbucks takes Annie to see "Camille" at Radio City Music Hall. That movie didn't come out until 1937, but this scene took place in June/July 1933! Oh, well....  “Camille” was picked by the producers for this scene because Margaret Booth was the supervising editor for both 1937’s “Camille” and 1982’s “Annie.”  Ms. Booth died in 2002 at age 104 and lived in three centuries.

The movie was the 9th biggest-grossing movie of 1982, making $57 million. However, for a $40 million production to break even, it would have had to do $100 million. However, "Annie" did much better overseas later in 1982 than it did here, so it did make back its original investment thanks to foreign business. Today "Annie" remains one of the biggest-selling videocassettes, and one of the most popular rentals as well. As a result of some initial bad reviews, this movie may not have been the huge blockbuster it was predicted to be (and of course "E.T." being out at the same time killed it), but it will be around for a long, long time. It will certainly endure longer than that dreadful, badly scripted, badly directed ABC-TV movie that Disney did in 1999, which came nowhere near the 1982 Columbia movie in quality.

And finally, if you can, watch "Annie" on DVD. On DVD--but not on videotape--the movie is "widescreen," that is, the shape of the screen is the way it was in the theaters (NOTE: The movie is in widescreen ONLY on the older DVD with the orange cover, not the more recent "Special Anniversary Edition" with the multi-color cover). All the stuff on the "sides" is lost in the videotape, and on the orange cover DVD you will see things in "Annie" you haven't seen since you saw it on the screen in 1982, like the Orphans doing back handsprings on the beds in "Hard-Knock Life," or Lara Berk (Tessie) working Toni Ann Gisondi's (Molly's) head like a ventriloquist's dummy in "Fully Dressed."