Aileen was introduced to show business by her mother, Helenann, who was doing theatre when Aileen was growing up. Aileen begged to audition too, and she began to get parts near her home of Yardley, Pennsylvania. Her first show being, ironically “Annie Get Your Gun.”
Aileen’s first movie part was one line in Paternity (1981), starring Burt Reynolds. At the time Aileen was picked for the movie, she was in the Broadway show, “Annie” as the “swing orphan.” The Swing essentially understudied various Orphan roles in the show and knew all their parts and had to go on stage at a moment’s notice if one of the actors was sick and couldn’t perform, averaging 2 or 3 times a week.
A year later, she was chosen to be Annie in the film version from over 8,000 girls throughout the world. The announcement was made in January 1981 by director John Huston, who introduced Aileen as his Annie to the world on nationwide TV. Annie (1982) was filmed from April to September 1981. Aileen was under contract for 6 years to make “Annie 2,” and possibly “Annie 3,” but those projects never materialized. When the contract expired, Aileen was then approached to star in a new film version of – The Frog Prince (1988) – which they aired on The Disney Channel often. While Aileen was under contract, she continued to perform and went back to her theatre roots. She starred in a variety of productions in Fort Bragg, North Carolina including Dorothy in ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, Kim in “Bye Bye Birdie,” Jenny in “Shenandoah,” and Annie in “Annie,” opposite Harve Presnell as Daddy Warbucks. She also starred in “A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The Ukraine” in Bristol, Pennsylvania as Harpo Marx.
Aileen decided to take a break from show business and attended Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. She received a B.A. with honors in Spanish and minored in Political Science. She spent 6 months living with a family in Chile as part of an exchange program at La Universidad Católica with all of her classes in Spanish. She considers it one of her life’s most rewarding experiences.
After graduation from Drew, Aileen once again took to the stage playing Bette in “Oliver!” at the famous Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. She then begin a 5 year stint doing Broadway National Tours including “Fiddler On The Roof,” “Peter Pan,” and “Saturday Night Fever.” In between touring, Aileen starred in two off-Broadway shows, “Dreamstuff,” and “Yiddle With a Fiddle.”
Starting in 2007, Aileen returned to film getting roles in various projects, including independent and studio backed. So, she decided to leave her East Coast roots, and moved to Los Angeles in the Fall of 2011, where she resides, but keeps a home in New York. The following year she formed a Rockabilly, Swing, Blues Band appropriately named “Aileen Quinn and the Leapin’ Lizards.” The band released their debut album in 2015, “Spin Me,” which includes 10 tracks of all original material. Aileen has gone back into the recording studio as she did when she was 9 years old, recording the double platinum “Annie” soundtrack as well as her solo album, “Bobby’s Girl,” and is enjoying it as much now, as she did then. Her current band performs all over California in hopes to tour throughout the US and the world.
In addition to performing, Aileen teaches Master Classes all over the US in drama and musical theatre, and has directed and co-directed various children’s theatre productions.
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