Born June 28, 1971, Aileen was introduced to show business by her mother Helenann who was doing theater when Aileen was growing up. Aileen begged to audition too, and she began to get parts near her home of Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Aileen's first movie part was one line in _Paternity_ (cv), starring Burt Reynolds. At the time Aileen was picked for the movie, she was on Broadway with Allison Smith playing the Swing Orphan in ‘Annie’. 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. Or, if the Orphan acting as Annie's understudy had to go on as Annie, Aileen went on as the understudy to the understudy.
She was chosen to be Annie in the film version from 8,000 girls. The announcement was made in January 1981 by director ‘John Huston’ (cv), who introduced Aileen as his Annie to the world on nationwide TV. _Annie 1982_ (cv) was filmed from April to September 1981. Aileen starred in one more movie after Annie, - _The Frog Prince_ (cv) - when she was about 14, but it was never released in theaters, only on video. Meanwhile, she continued to do theater. A family member was running the theater at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on the Army base there, so Aileen was invited to star in several productions there. In 1985 she was Dorothy in ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, and in 1986 she was Annie once again, except this time it was the stage musical. Opposite her as Daddy Warbucks was Harve Presnell, who had played the role for years on Broadway and in one of the National Tours. When Aileen was a senior in high school, she starred in ‘A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The Ukraine’ in Bristol, Pennsylvania.
Aileen graduated in the spring of 1989 and did one year at Pitzer College in southern California before transferring to Drew University nearer home in New Jersey. (B.A. with honors in Spanish from Drew University) Like numerous child stars before her, Aileen chose not to study show biz in college; instead she took a few years away from it and studied languages, especially Japanese and Spanish. She spent six months with a family in Chile as part of an exchange program in college and considered it one of her life's most rewarding experiences.
After graduation from Drew, Aileen once again took to the stage and in 1994 she played Bette in ‘Oliver!’ at the famous Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. And at the end of 1995 she went out on tour in ‘Fiddler On The Roof’. In 1997 Aileen was in two off-Broadway shows, ‘Dreamstuff’ and ‘Yiddle With a Fiddle’. In 1998 she was on Broadway in ‘Peter Pan’, but in early 1999, Aileen left the show and moved to Los Angeles for a couple of years.
In addition to the "Annie" movie soundtrack album--which went platinum in the summer of 1982--Aileen recorded an album of her own. This album is extremely rare; there are probably fewer than a dozen copies of the LP in existence in the hands of Orphan Annie collectors, and even fewer cassettes.