Sally Jane Bruce

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Sally Jane Bruce (born 2 December 1948 in Los Angeles, California) is an American former child performer, best known for playing little Pearl Harper in Charles Laughton's 1955 film noir The Night of the Hunter.

She is the daughter of Jewell K. Edwards, who worked with Spade Cooley and his Orchestra. [1] [2]


The Night of the Hunter

Before Charles Laughton cast five-year-old Sally Jane for the role of little Pearl Harper in his film noir classic The Night of the Hunter, she was already considered a veteran of TV, radio, and such films as Kids Will Be Kids (1954, also known as Mischief Makers or Best Dog Wins, the working title of this 16-minute short film by Jules White).

According to an United Artists Press release, mentioned in Preston Neal Jones' documentary book on the shooting of The Night of the Hunter, "... she got her big break by singing with a full orchestra for a contest sponsored by a Los Angeles newspaper. Winning that competition led to her first role in a Joan Davis comedy, and ultimately to the attention of (producer) Paul Gregory."

Laughton later told Davis Grubb, the original author of the story, that he found little Sally Jane to be a repulsive, little insensitive pie-faced “teacher’s pet” — and yet, this was precisely why he cast her as Pearl.[2]

The Pretty Fly

The Pretty Fly song was in fact sung live and a cappella by Sally Jane while shooting the scene on the river-stage, but because of her too fragile voice, in addition of tending to speed up on the phrases and the racket the river water was making, it was later dubbed in a sound-studio by an actress named Betty Benson.[3][2]

The Lullaby

The Lullaby song (accompanying the barn scene) was sung by jazz vocalist Kitty White, who was personally discovered by composer Walter Schumann (1913–1958),[4] who wrote both songs, while she was performing in a little night club.[2]

After the The Night of the Hunter, there are no further acting roles of Sally Jane Bruce recorded to date.

Private life

Sally Jane Bruce divorced Peter Woelper in 1991, and now lives in Arroyo Grande, California.

She is currently working as a grade school teacher and faculty advisor for her school's Garden Club in Santa Maria, California and enthusiastically involved in teaching young children gardening and the meaning of the environment.

"We want to tie the importance of our agricultural heritage here in the Santa Maria Valley ... and it's exciting for kids to grow things and harvest them. It teaches them patience."[5]


  1. Jewell K. Edwards and Spade Cooley - on,com [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Literatur - Heaven & Hell To Play With: The Filming of The Night of the Hunter, Limelight Editions, New York, 2002 - page s92-93]
  3. The Night of the Hunter (1955) notes. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on 29 October 2013.
  4. The Night of the Hunter (1955) notes. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on 29 October 2013.
  5. Environmental tour makes stop in S(anta) M(aria) - by Natalie Ragus/Staff Writer - Santa Maria Times Online, March 14, 2008 [2]