Janet Waldo (born February 4, 1924, though several sources state 1918, in Yakima, Washington, though several sources state Grandview) is an American actress and voice artist with a career encompassing radio, television, animation and live-action films. She is best known in animation for voicing Judy Jetson, Penelope Pitstop, and Josie McCoy in Josie and the Pussycats. She was equally famed for radio's Meet Corliss Archer, a title role with which she was so identified that she was drawn into the comic book adaptation.
Waldo's mother was a singer trained at the Boston Conservatory of Music, and her father was a descendent of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Her sister, Elisabeth Waldo, is a leading authority on pre-Columbian music and an award-winning composer-violinist who appeared in the film Song of Mexico (1945).
Growing up, Janet Waldo had a love of acting and the theatre from an early age and performed in plays at her church. She attended the University of Washington, where her performance in a student theatrical garnered her an award and brought her to the attention of UW alumnus Bing Crosby. A Paramount Pictures talent scout, who was with Crosby at the time, signed Waldo for a screen test, which lead to a contract with the studio.
Radio and films
Waldo appeared in several dozen films in uncredited bit parts and small roles, although she was the leading lady in three Westerns, two of them starring Tim Holt. Her big break came in radio with a part on Cecil B. DeMille's Lux Radio Theater. In her radio career, she lent her voice to many programs, including Edward G. Robinson's Big Town, The Eddie Bracken Show, Favorite Story, Four-Star Playhouse, The Gallant Heart, One Man's Family, Sears Radio Theater and Stars over Hollywood. She co-starred with Jimmy Lydon in the CBS situation comedy Young Love (1949–50), and she had recurring roles on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (as teenager Emmy Lou), The Red Skelton Show and People Are Funny.
However, it was her eight-year run starring as teenager Corliss Archer on CBS's Meet Corliss Archer that left a lasting impression, even though Shirley Temple starred in the film adaptations, Kiss and Tell and A Kiss for Corliss. The radio program was the CBS answer to NBC's popular A Date with Judy. Despite the long run of Meet Corliss Archer, less than 24 episodes are known to exist. Waldo later turned down the offer to portray Corliss in a television adaptation.
Radio listeners used their imagination to visualize Corliss, her friends and her town. However, those imaginations got a boost in 1948 when the Meet Corliss Archer comic book, published by Fox Feature Syndicate, appeared for a run of three issues from March to July 1948. Al Feldstein, later the editor of Mad, was a key writer and illustrator of the Meet Corliss Archer comic book. Film strips and radio microphones on the front cover indicated the tie-ins and media crossovers. Adapting directly from the radio scripts, Feldstein drew Waldo as the comic book character, as was done with Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and other celebrities adapted to comics. Waldo was depicted on the front cover twice, as both actress and character, since Feldstein also included a smaller drawing of Waldo performing before a microphone.
In animation, she is noted for providing the voice of Judy Jetson in all versions of the Hanna-Barbera television cartoon The Jetsons, except in the movie version where her voice track was wiped so that the role could be played by Tiffany. Waldo is the last surviving main cast member of The Jetsons series.
Waldo also provided voices for Nancy (Shazzan), Granny Sweet (The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show), Josie (Josie and the Pussycats), Penelope Pitstop (Wacky Races, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop) and a guest starring role in Thundarr the Barbarian as the witch, Sersi in the episode, Island of The Body Snatchers. She and Gary Owens are the only surviving cast members of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. She did the voices of Morticia Addams in the short-lived 1973 cartoon series adaptation of The Addams Family. She was also the voice of Princess in Battle of the Planets.
Waldo made a rare on-screen television appearance when she appeared on an episode of I Love Lucy in 1952 with Richard Crenna, as Peggy, a young girl smitten with Ricky Ricardo. She also appeared on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show as Amanda. In addition, Waldo reprised the role of Emmy Lou for some early TV episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Later, she was the female lead opposite Anthony Franciosa in the short-lived sitcom Valentine's Day (1964).
She currently provides the voice for the character Joanne Allen in Focus on the Family's weekly Adventures in Odyssey radio drama series heard on more than 1600 radio stations throughout North America. She can also be heard many times a day as Grandmother in the fourth scene of Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World.
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