Jane Withers, the Golden Age actress who appeared opposite Shirley Temple and James Dean, died Saturday in Burbank, Calif. She was 95.

"My mother was such a special lady," Withers' daughter Kendall Errair said in a statement. "She lit up a room with her laughter, but she especially radiated joy and thankfulness when talking about the career she so loved and how lucky she was."

Withers was born April 12, 1926, in Atlanta to a mother who craved fame for her only daughter. Withers told PEOPLE in 1974 that her mother enrolled her in tap lessons and began taking her to the movies at 2 or 3 so she could learn the craft.

In fact, her mother named her Jane so "even with a long last name like Withers, it would fit on a marquee."

Withers won a local contest that landed her a spot on the Saturday morning radio show Aunt Sally's Kiddie Revue, on which she danced, sang, and did impersonations. The natural mimic interviewed celebrities passing through Atlanta on her own radio show, Dixie's Dainty Dewdrop, when she was just 3 and a half.

Withers and her mother Lavinia moved to Hollywood in 1932, and two years later the 8-year-old appeared opposite Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes. She then signed a seven-year film contract with the Fox Film Corporation, which led to her appearing in as many as five films a year. Among those was her starring role in 1935's Ginger, in which she played an orphan taken in by a rich family.

Jane Withers objects to Shirley Temple's(right) dog "Rags," but Shirley steadfastly defends the up in a scene from "Bright Eyes"
(L-R) Jane Withers and Shirley Temple
| Credit: Bettmann/Getty

In contrast with the sunny, ringleted Temple, the dark-haired Withers was often cast as tomboys and holy terrors. But as she moved out of childhood, Withers craved more mature roles. She used the pseudonym Jerrie Walters to write the story that would become the teen flick Small Town Deb, which she starred in. As payment for the script, Withers asked the studio to provide $1,500 music and acting scholarships for 15 children, plus two upright pianos for her Sunday school.

By the time she was 21, Withers had appeared in 38 films. She took a break from acting to marry and raise a family, but she eventually enrolled in the University of Southern California's film school and returned to the big screen in 1956 alongside James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson in Giant.

Withers was also a well-known commercial actress, appearing in white overalls and a cap to portray Josephine the Plumber in ads for Comet from 1963 to 1974.

Withers received a Living Legacy Award from the nonprofit Women's International Center in 2003.

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