‘White Christmas’ Actress Anne Whitfield Dead At 85

A poster the 1954 musical romantic comedy, 'White Christmas', directed by Michael Curtiz and starring (left to right) Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen.
Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

“White Christmas” actress Anne Whitfield died after a recent accident near her Washington state home, her family announced. She was 85.

Whitfield, who is probably best known for the role of Susan Waverly in the 1954 Christmas classic, died on Feb. 15 in Yakima after  “suffering an unexpected accident while on a walk in her neighborhood,” an obituary about the Hollywood actress in a local newspaper read.

The most precious part of Anne’s life were her 3 children and 7 grandchildren,” the obit read. “She was beloved by her family, who were always her first priority.”

The actress got her first big break at the age of 15 when she landed the role as the granddaughter of retired Maj. General Thomas F. Waverly in the star-studded “White Christmas,” where she worked alongside legendary stars such as Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

“Just this past December during the holidays, Anne was able to watch ‘White Christmas’ with her family on the movie’s 70th anniversary,” the obituary noted.

Born in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1938, Anne and her mother moved out to Los Angeles to start her acting career at the age of 4. During her time in Hollywood, Whitfield appeared on the big and small screen numerous times, including in such films like “Juvenile Jungle” (1958) and in TV shows like “Perry Mason,” “Bonanza,” and “Rawhide.”

However, despite finding work, Los Angeles “didn’t have enough trees” for her and Whitfield left Tinseltown in the 1970s and headed north to Washington state, the obit noted. She went back to college, got a Bachelor’s degree, and ended up working as a steward for Clean Water at the Department of Ecology for the State of Washington, the obit read.

She also liked to keep active, hiking the trails of Mount Rainier with her kids. And in retirement “Anne worked tirelessly as an activist and community organizer, working right up until the day she passed away,” the obit added. 

“To celebrate her 85th birthday, she and close friend Jo hiked together in the Dolomite Mountains of the Italian Alps, followed by a wonderful Croatian cruise,” the obit continued. “Anne wanted to visit as many countries as she could during her lifetime and hiked the mountains of many world destinations, including Nepal, Patagonia, Iceland…Switzerland. In North America, she explored the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia…and backpacked in the Alaska backcountry and the Sierra Nevadas of California.”

Her celebration of life will be held Friday, March 22 in Washington.

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