The place is run by Agatha Hannigan, a cruel alcoholic who forces the orphans to clean the building daily. She likes to create bathtub gin and engage in other illegal activities.

With half of locket as her only possession, she remains optimistic that her parents, who left her on the doorstep as a baby, will return for her.

Annie sneaks out with help from laundry man, Mr. Bundles, adopting a stray dog which she names Sandy, but she is escorted back to the orphanage.

To improve his public image, Grace Farrell, secretary to billionaire Oliver Warbucks, invites an orphan to live with him for a week.

Warbucks, at first dismissive of Annie, is charmed into letting her stay, and gradually begins to develop affection for her. Grace urges him to adopt Annie.

Warbucks reveals his plans to Annie, offering her new locket, but she declines. Warbucks then appears on Bert Healy’s radio show and offers $50,000 to find Annie’s parents. A mass hysteria follows, with many would-be parents wishing to claim the reward.

To escape the madness, Warbucks flies Annie to the White House, introducing her to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor. Roosevelt informs them of his plan to introduce a social welfare program to help America’s impoverished and asks Warbucks to head it.

Hannigan’s con artist brother Rooster and girlfriend Lily St. Regis plot to pose as Annie’s parents to gain the reward. Annie is kidnapped after leaving, but her friends tell Warbucks the truth; he informs the police, who begin city-wide search.

In the end, Rooster and Lily are arrested and Annie is adopted by Warbucks. At a party attended by the orphans, a redeemed Hannigan, and the Roosevelts, Warbucks gives Annie the new locket.

Sean Connery and Cary Grant (who had retired in 1966) were also considered for the role before Finney was cast.

Bette Midler was considered for the role of Hannigan before Burnett was chosen.

Aileen Quinn was chosen out of the 8,000 girls who auditioned for the lead part.