Jane Withers, whose eight-decade career saw her go toe-to-toe with Shirley Temple and voice a gargoyle in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, has died at the age of 95.

Her daughter Kendall Errair confirmed the news in a statement to Deadline. “My mother was such a special lady,” Errair said. “She lit up a room with her laughter, but she especially radiated joy and thankfulness when talking about the career she so loved and how lucky she was.” No cause of death has been given.

Born April 12th, 1926, Withers’ mother groomed her for show business from the day she was born. The name Jane was chosen, according to Errair, so that “even with a long last name like Withers, it would fit on a marquee.” By the age of two she was taking tap dance lessons, and at 3 she won a local contest, the Dixie’s Dainty Dewdrop. She’d be working off and on for the next 70 years.

After a stint on Aunt Sally’s Kiddie Revue, she moved to Hollywood and caught her big break starring opposite Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes (1934). As the obnoxiously spoiled Joy Smythe, she provided a foil to the cherubic Temple, displaying early comedic chops that would make her a fixture on film sets through the end of the century.


In 1935, Withers landed her first leading role in Ginger and acted alongside Henry Fonda in his feature debut, The Farmer Takes a Wife. She’d go on to play in a minimum of three films a year until her seven-year contract came up in 1942. In 1947, at the age of 21, she briefly retired from acting to focus on raising her family. Withers had five children and married twice.

In 1956 she returned to the silver screen in Giant, which starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean. Withers was rewarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, the same year she was cast as Josephine the Plumber in TV commercials for the cleaning product Comet.

This opened up new frontiers for Withers, and she embarked on a television career that included multiple episodes of The Munsters and Murder, She Wrote, as well as appearances on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Love BoatAmazing Grace, and more. She also trod the boards of theatrical productions like Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and No, No, Nanette.


In 1995, Withers was brought on to finish the role of gargoyle Laverne in The Hunchback of Notre Dame after the original actress, Mary Wickes, died during production. Withers would go on to play the role in the The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 and a pair of video games. She also became a mainstay of Disney variety shows, lending her voice to the 1999 series Mickey Mouse Works and 2001’s House of Mouse.

Check out a selection of some of her performances below.