Janet Waldo (born February 4, 1924) 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 theUniversity of Washington, where her performance in a student theatrical garnered her an award and brought her to the attention of Bing Crosby. A Paramount Pictures talent scout, who was with Crosby at the time, signed Waldo for a screen test, which led to a contract with the studio.
Radio, films and TV
Al Feldstein, later the editor of Mad
, was a writer-illustrator of the Meet Corliss Archer
comic book. Waldo was depicted on the front cover twice, as herself and as Corliss.
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.
In 1948 the Meet Corliss Archer comic book, using Waldo's likeness, published by Fox Feature Syndicate, appeared for a run of three issues from March to July 1948, using the original scripts. The same year, Waldo married playwright Robert Edwin Lee, the writing partner of Jerome Lawrence. The couple had two children, and remained married until his death in 1994.
Waldo made a rare on-screen television appearance when she appeared as Peggy, a teen smitten with Ricky Ricardo on a 1952 episode of I Love Lucy titled "The Young Fans" with Richard Crenna. Ten years later, Waldo again worked with Lucille Ball, this time playing Lucy Carmichael's sister, Marge, on The Lucy Show. That episode was titlted "Lucy's Sister Pays A Visit". 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-livedsitcom Valentine's Day (1964).
In television animation, she provided the voice of Judy Jetson in all versions of the Hanna-Barbera television cartoon The Jetsons, except in the movie version after she had recorded her part, it had been re-recorded by Tiffany. Most of the negative reviews surrounding the film were directed at Tiffany's acting and the replacement of Janet Waldo. Waldo is the last surviving main cast member of The Jetsons series.
Waldo also provided voices for Nancy in Shazzan, Granny Sweet in The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show, Josie in Josie and the Pussycats, Penelope Pitstop in both, Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and guest-starred in Thundarr the Barbarian as the witch, Circe in the episode, Island of The Body Snatchers. Further guest starring roles, include Beth Crane, a descendant of Ichabod Crane, in the episode The Headless Horseman of Halloween, from the The Scooby-Doo Show in 1976. In 1977, she provided the lead guest voice in the episode titled To Switch a Witch which paid a somewhat out of left field homage to the witches of Salem.
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 and Hogatha on The Smurfs.
She currently provides the voice for the character Joanne Allen in Focus on the Family's weekly Adventures in Odyssey, a radio drama series heard on more than 1,600 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. Recently, she was interviewed about her career for the documentary I Know That Voice.