Ann Gillis left her mark on everything from 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld all the way to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey, retiring after that film. Sadly, the Arkansan actress whose career stretched from child star to doting sci-fi mother died Wednesday at age 90, her son Gordon confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
From the age of 7, Gillis was pushed by Warner Bros. as an actress in the vein of Shirley Temple, starring in Little Orphan Annie and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1938. She then voiced Bambi’s love interest, Fantine, in Disney’s 1941 Bambi before stepping back from film and TV work in 1947.
However, Gillis briefly returned to the business for two episodes of the Roger Moore-starring spy thriller The Saint and her final role, Frank Poole’s mother in 2001.
Astronaut Poole received a video message from his parents shooting the breeze and wishing him a happy birthday.
They represented a metered, ‘50s-style normalcy that feels as alien in 2001 as it must have felt in Kubrick’s time of 1968. Gillis retained that Golden Age Hollywood spark even in her small role. She signed off on a long career with a "Happy birthday" and a “See you next Wednesday.”