AKA "Dawn O'Day"
There is a very warm and thorough biographical sketch of Anne Shirley on IMDb, which I recommend to you, in lieu of my having to gratuitously paraphrase it here.
Anne Shirley was one of those quiet, excellent child actors who played the younger version of whichever Hollywood actress was actually starring in a picture, or as that star's daughter. If you happen to catch her in anything before 1934 — and there were 31 pictures to choose from — she'd be credited as "Dawn O'Day," one of several stage names she was given as a toddler model. What was wrong with her given name, Dawn Paris, I don't know.
Shirley became a reliable bit player in feature films from the age of four, getting more and more notice as she grew into a beautiful teenager. Although she only appears briefly in the pre-Code Barbara Stanwyck vehicle, The Purchase Price (1932), her performance as a terrified farm girl is arresting. That same year, she played the young Ann Dvorak in Three On a Match, and manages to convey the discontent and fragility that overtake the adult character in her few short scenes.
The actress took the name "Anne Shirley" from the film that made her a star, Anne of Green Gables, changing it legally and professionally when she turned 16. And like good contract players, she made three to six pictures a year, most of them excellent, but in spite of critically successful performances, Anne Shirley never quite reached the level of stardom one would have hoped. Growing tired of the Hollywood grind and with one failed marriage behind her (to handsome John Payne) and one on the rocks (to soon-to-be-blacklisted producer and screenwriter, Adrian Scott) she retired from movies in 1944 at the age of 26.
She did go out with a bang, as it were; her last picture was the film noir classic, Murder, My Sweet, a hell of a high note.
Anne Shirley's third marriage to screenwriter Charles Lederer in 1949 was a happy one that lasted until his death in 1976. She lived the rest of her days in Hollywood as a painter and socialite. She died July 4, 1993 from lung cancer at the age of 75.
Her birthday is this Saturday, so why not screen something like So Big! or any of these others to celebrate?