Audrey Smith, best known as Little Audrey, is a fictional character appearing in Paramount Pictures's Famous Studios cartoons from 1947 to 1958. She is considered a variation of the better-known Little Lulu allegedly devised after Paramount decided not to renew their license on Marjorie Henderson Buell's comic strip character. Despite some superficial similarities between the two characters, the Famous animators took pains to design Audrey in contrast to Lulu, adopting an entirely different color scheme and employing the stylistic conventions common to Famous Studios's late 1940s repertoire, as opposed to Buell's uniquely rendered Little Lulu. Veteran animator Bill Tytla was the designer of Little Audrey, reportedly inspired by his daughter Tammy (who was also his inspiration for Famous's version of Little Lulu, which he also worked on and directed several shorts of).
The character, in fact, predates the cartoons by many years as the main subject in a very popular series of jokes, some quite dirty, that harken back as far as the First World War. Typically, the jokes would end with her "laughing and laughing" at some big disaster, usually of Little Audrey's own making. She was so popular that during World War II a tank was named after her, and hers was a common name of allied bombers.
When work began on Santa's Surprise in 1947, even before the Little Lulu license was lost, they decided to use a name that was already well-known albeit in the public domain. (Harvey was not able to secure a trademark for the character until 1961). Audrey's fits of laughter at the end of most shorts betray the connection between the two incarnations of the character.
- The original voice of Little Lulu was performed by actress Cecil Roy, who also provided the voice of Casper the Friendly Ghost. Little Audrey was however voiced by Mae Questel, the actress behind most of Paramount's other major female cartoon characters, including Betty Boop and Olive Oyl.
- Little Audrey makes a cameo in the Famous Studios Popeye short Olive Oyl for President.
- The first Little Audrey cartoon predated the last Little Lulu by almost two months.