This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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Janet Waldo Dies at Age 96: Was ''Corliss Archer'' On Radio
by Jack French © 2016
(From Radio Recall, August, 2016)
On June 12, 2016, Janet Waldo died at her home in Encino, CA. She was born February 4, 1920 in Yakima, WA and newspapers correctly reported her long concealed age as 96.
After a brief time in college, Waldo got bit parts in Hollywood movies and then became successful in radio. She was on Ozzie & Harriet, A Date with Judy, One Man's Family, etc. and reached stardom as the lead in Meet Corliss Archer, a teen-ager she would play into her 30s.
Following the demise of dramatic radio, she had an even more successful career in voicing TV characters, including Judy in The Jetsons, the lead in Josie and the Pussycats, and Fred's mother-in-law on The Flintstones.
I met her at the SPERDVAC convention in 2004 after my book Private Eyelashes: Radio's Lady Detectives had just been published. My book discussed her lead role in Lady of the Press: Sandra Martin so I was eager to meet her, not knowing her true age was a state secret.
When I located her, she was with her adult daughter, Lucy, and I gave them a complimentary copy of my book. With her daughter's help, she quickly found the Sandra Martin entry and her face changed to one of fury and disgust. "I wasn't born in 1920; I'm not that old" she snapped at me.
Her daughter quickly added "How can you print such lies?" Both women knew they were lying to me but only their obvious distress prevented this from being a farcical situation. I stammered an apology but they cut me off and strode away. "People like
you should not be permitted to write books" was Waldo's parting shot. That was my first, and last, contact with Waldo.
In her defense, Waldo was still doing some voice-overs when women of her era usually tried to cover up their real age. Lucille Bliss, a West Coast radio actor and voice-over artist, was about the same age as Waldo. When I interviewed Bliss in 2003 regarding her role on Candy Matson YU 2-8209, I asked her if she would tell me her date and place of birth.
"Oh, I can't, Jack" she answered "I'm still doing voice-overs but my agent told me if my true age were known, I'd never work again."