Virginia Weidler

Virginia Anna Adeleid Weidler (March 21, 1927[1] – July 1, 1968) was an American child actress, popular in Hollywood films during the 1930s and 1940s.[2]

Virginia Weidler
Weidler holding the dog ("Terry") that is Toto in the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz
Virginia Anna Adeleid Weidler

(1927-03-21)March 21, 1927
DiedJuly 1, 1968(1968-07-01) (aged 41)
Years active19311943
Lionel Krisel (m. 19471968)
(her death)

Early life and career

Virginia was the sixth and final child born to Alfred Weidler, an architect, and Margaret Weidler (born Margarete Therese Louise Radon; 1890–1987), a former opera singer.[3] She was the second Weidler child born in the United States after the family emigrated from Germany in 1923.[4]

She made her first film appearance in 1931. Her first credited role was as Europena in Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934) a role she won at age seven after having been seen in the play Autumn Crocus.[5] Virginia made a big impression on audiences as the little girl who would "hold my breath 'til I am black in the face" to get her way.[6]

For the next several years, she would appear in many memorable films from George Stevens' Laddie (1935) to a pivotal supporting role in Souls at Sea (1938) starring Gary Cooper and George Raft.[7] Despite being under contract to Paramount, just as many of her roles of the period took place while on loan to RKO-Radio Pictures.

When Paramount did not extend her contract, she was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1938. Her first film for MGM was with their leading male star Mickey Rooney in Love Is a Headache (1938). The film was a success and Weidler was later cast in larger roles. She was one of the all-female cast of the 1939 film The Women, as the daughter of Norma Shearer's character.[8]

Her next major success was The Philadelphia Story (1940) in which she played Dinah Lord, the witty younger sister of Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn). Her film career ended with the 1943 film Best Foot Forward.[8]

At her retirement from the screen at age 16, she had appeared in more than forty films, and had acted with some of the biggest stars of the day, including Clark Gable and Myrna Loy in Too Hot to Handle, Bette Davis in All This and Heaven Too, and Judy Garland in Babes on Broadway.[8]


In addition to her parents, Virginia had three brothers and two sisters. Her brothers Warner (born Werner), Walter (born Wolfgang), and George were successful musicians after some child acting work, eventually owning their own recording studio.[9] Her brother George was married to singer-actress Doris Day from 1946–49 (his first marriage, her second). Her sisters, Sylvia (born Waltraud) and Renee (born Verena), also were involved in show business prior to their marriages.[10]

Her father turned his architectural skills into a career building miniature sets for 20th Century Fox.[11]


On March 27, 1947, aged 20, Weidler married Lionel Krisel. They had two sons, Ron and Gary.[12]


After her retirement, Weidler gave no interviews for the remainder of her life. She was married to Krisel until her death at age 41 in Los Angeles on July 1, 1968. Weidler suffered from a heart ailment for many years and died of a heart attack.


While not the box office draw of Fox's Shirley Temple or Jane Withers, Virginia Weidler still has a loyal following to this day. In 2012, the Virginia Weidler Remembrance Society was created to honor her life and career.[13]

In late 2016, the Los Angeles City Council honored Weidler by proclaiming March 21, 2017, which would have been her 90th birthday, as A Celebration of Virginia Weidler.[14]

Partial filmography

Radio appearances

1939The Gulf Screen Guild TheaterNever In This World with Leslie Howard and Kay Francis, Episode 012
1941The Chase and Sanborn Program with Bergen and McCarthyGuest Star with Abbott and Costello, Ray Noble and his Orchestra [15]
1942The Kraft Music Hall with Bing CrosbyGuest Star with Carole Landis [16]
1942Victory TheaterThe Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Lt. James Stewart and Ruth Hussey [17]
1943Screen Guild TheaterThe Youngest Profession with Edward Arnold and Jean Porter [18]
1944Dupont's Cavalcade of AmericaJunior Nurse with Jane Darwell [19]
1945Dupont's Cavalcade of AmericaWeapon 4-H with Skip Homeier [19]
1946Reader's Digest-Radio EditionDo You Remember?[20]


  1. Archived October 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Class Act Featured Actress: Virginia Weidler". Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  3. Salt Lake Tribune, page six, December 16, 1934; accessed February 20, 2017.
  4. Artists in California, 1786-1940, 1st edition, Edan Milton Hughes, San Francisco: Hughes Pub. Co. (1986) OCLC 13323489
  5. Detroit Free Press, October 15, 1939. Accessed on February 20, 2017.
  6. "Virginia Weidler Biography". Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  7. Variety, December 31, 1936. Accessed on February 20, 2017.
  8. Virginia Weidler on IMDb
  9. "The Wilder Brothers's Biography". Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  10. "Virginia Weidler Remembrance Society: The Weidler family ad in the Standard Casting book..." Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  11. "(photo caption)". Life. August 12, 1946. p. 78. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  12. Who's Who in Advertising, First edition, 1990-1991, Wilmette, Illinois: Marquis Who's Who, 1989 OCLC 21990384
  13. "Virginia Weidler Remembrance Society: The Virginia Weidler Remembrance Society!". January 25, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  14. Carroll County Times, January 22, 2017. Accessed on February 17, 2017.
  15. "Encore - [Chase and Sanborn program. 1941-09-28] [sound recording]". Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  16. "Copyright 2016, J. David Goldin".
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-18. Retrieved 2017-02-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. Classic Images Magazine 2003
  19. American University, John R. Hickman Collection
  20. "Virginia Weidler Stars In "Radio Digest" Play Thurs. 10 P.M., WHP". Harrisburg Telegraph. December 7, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved September 12, 2015 via


  • Best, Marc. Those Endearing Young Charms: Child Performers of the Screen. South Brunswick and New York: Barnes & Co., 1971, pp. 260–264.
  • Parish, James Robert. Great Child Stars. New York: Ace Books, 1976.
  • Willson, Dixie. Little Hollywood Stars. Akron, OH, e New York: Saalfield Pub. Co., 1935.
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