The last surviving original cast member of the hit cartoon series, Waldo passed away Sunday morning, her daughter, Lucy Lee, told ABC News. A cause of death was not revealed, but the actress was diagnosed with a benign but inoperable brain tumor in 2011, according to Lee. Janet Waldo, the original voice of Judy Jetson on The Jetsons, has died. She was 96.
A native of Washington, Waldo got her start in radio in 1941, appearing more than 30 programs, including her big break on CBS’ Meet Corliss Archer. She amassed more than 100 credits over her career, but her most well-known role was voicing Judy Jetson, the teenage daughter of George and Jane Jetson, on Hanna-Barbera’s futuristic answer to The Flintsones. The original series ran for one season from 1962 to 1963, but was heavily played in syndication. New episodes were produced from 1985 to 1987. Waldo also headlined the 1988 TV movie Rockin’ with Judy Jetson.
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Waldo had recorded all of Judy’s dialogue for 1990’s The Jetsons: The Movie, but was later unceremoniously dumped and replaced by pop star Tiffany, in an attempt to attract a younger audience. The ploy failed, with fans and critics bemoaning Tiffany’s acting, and Universal Studios executive Andrea Romano admitting it was a mistake and requesting that her name be removed from the credits.
”I was totally crushed,” Waldo told The Orlando Sentinel in 1990. ”I originated the character, and I feel very sentimental about Judy. If they had recast the whole show, there wouldn’t have been any problem at all. But the fact that my part was the only one that was changed just threw me. I felt it was very disloyal [of Hanna and Barbera].’
”I don’t like to bad-mouth Hanna-Barbera because they’ve been very good to me and I’ve been told that this is just a one-shot thing,” she continued, ”but this [Judy incident] just hurt my feelings.”
Waldo continued to act on Hanna-Barbera productions after the fact. Her other voice credits include Josie on Josie and the Pussycats, Nancy on Shazzan, Pearl Slaghoople on The Flintstones, Morticia Addams on The Addams Family, and Beth Crane, a descendant of Ichabod Craine, on an episode of The Scooby-Doo Show. Her on-screen appearances include guest spots on I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Waldo’s last credit was a voice role on a 1998 episode of King of the Hill.
Waldo had two children with her husband, playwright Robert Edwin Lee. They were married from 1948 until his death in 1994.