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updated: 4/30/2013 1:45 PM

Lombard bank donates 'Annie' collection to historical society

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  • Mark Bennecke, bank manager of BMO Harris Bank in downtown Lombard, donates a collection of Little Orphan Annie items to Jeanne Schultz Angel, executive director of the Lombard Historical Society. The historical society will display the memorabilia honoring the creation of Lombard cartoonist Harold Gray in a new exhibit to be designed with a $45,000 state grant.

       Mark Bennecke, bank manager of BMO Harris Bank in downtown Lombard, donates a collection of Little Orphan Annie items to Jeanne Schultz Angel, executive director of the Lombard Historical Society. The historical society will display the memorabilia honoring the creation of Lombard cartoonist Harold Gray in a new exhibit to be designed with a $45,000 state grant.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Cartoons, dolls, coffee mugs and toys are among the Little Orphan Annie items the downtown Lombard branch of BMO Harris Bank donated to the Lombard Historical Society. The character was created by cartoonist Harold Gray while he was living in Lombard and working for the Chicago Tribune.

       Cartoons, dolls, coffee mugs and toys are among the Little Orphan Annie items the downtown Lombard branch of BMO Harris Bank donated to the Lombard Historical Society. The character was created by cartoonist Harold Gray while he was living in Lombard and working for the Chicago Tribune.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

It was a "hard-knock life" for the creation of one Lombard resident in the 1920s.

Cartoonist Harold Gray penned the character Little Orphan Annie when he was living in a town now better known for its collection of lilac bushes than rough-and-tumble streets.

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From her quaint suburban roots, Annie became a daily syndicated comic strip, a radio show, films and a Broadway musical, building a fan base far and wide.

"Annie is such an important part of Lombard history," said Jeanne Schultz Angel, executive director of the Lombard Historical Society. "Not enough people know that Harold Gray lived here in Lombard and he created the character of Little Orphan Annie in Lombard."

Annie's Lombard heritage is a fun little-known fact celebrated recently as the branch of BMO Harris Bank in the village's downtown donated a collection of Annie memorabilia to the historical society.

Bank manager Mark Bennecke donated items that span 70 years and include comics, mugs, badges, toys, lunchboxes and a bracelet.

"The collection was displayed in our branch for a while and it's time to share it with the community," Bennecke said. "I am excited that everyone will be able to enjoy the memorabilia at the Lombard Historical Society."

Schultz Angel said the donated items won't go on display right away, but they will play nicely with a collection of Annie-themed Christmas cards Gray sent back to friends in Lombard after leaving the Lilac Village in the early 1930s.

The newly donated Annie memorabilia could be shown in a month or two as part of other exhibits, but Schultz Angel said its main display will occur in about a year and a half. That's when the society will spend a $45,000 state grant on exhibit design and production, incorporating the new Annie collection into the plan.

"Annie has such a tremendous following worldwide," Schultz Angel said. "We're happy that it's going to be here."

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