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PASSINGS: Sybil Jason

Sybil Jason dies at 83; former child star

August 31, 2011
  • Sybil Jason was signed by Warner Brothers Studios in an attempt to rival Twentieth Century Fox's Shirley Temple.
Sybil Jason was signed by Warner Brothers Studios in an attempt to rival… (Warner Brothers Studio )

Sybil Jason, 83, a former child actress signed by the Warner Brothers Studio to rival Twentieth Century Fox star Shirley Temple, died Aug. 23 at her home in Northridge, her family announced. She had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on Nov. 23, 1927, Jason began singing and dancing as a toddler. Her uncle Harry Jacobson, a pianist who accompanied stage performers in London, found her parts in British vaudeville productions, where she was discovered by studio head Jack Warner.

Accompanied by her older sister Anita, Jason arrived in Hollywood in 1935. Over the next three years, she appeared in a string of Warner Brothers movies, including "Little Big Shot," "The Singing Kid" (starring Al Jolson), "The Great O'Malley" (with Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart) and the Busby Berkeley production "Comet Over Broadway."

Warner Brothers was unable to turn their young actress into Temple's match, and in 1939 Jason signed with Twentieth Century Fox. There she was cast in supporting roles to Temple in "The Little Princess" (1939) and "The Blue Bird" (1940), her final screen appearance.

Jason wrote three books about her time as a child star in Hollywood and described warm memories of working with Temple.

In 1947 Jason married writer Anthony Drake, and they had a daughter, Toni. Drake died a few years ago.

Times staff and wire reports

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