Shirley Temple’s movies have always been a part of my life. Whether it was watching them on the weekends when I was in junior high or renting them on Netflix years later…Shirley has always had a special place in my heart. As a matter of fact, just the other day I was checking to see how old she was just so I could figure out how many years she might have left to live. When I heard about her death yesterday, my first reaction was “No! Not her!” I had to look at a few websites before I was fully convinced that she had died.
The amazing thing about Shirley is that no matter how old you are you can’t help but thoroughly enjoy her movies. Honestly speaking, my day has always been a little bit brighter after I would watch one of her movies. As a matter of fact, I was watching some YouTube videos of her yesterday, and even though I was sad I was also really comforted by her smile, dimples, and ringlets. Maybe that’s just the magic of this sweet person who was in quite a few memorable movies. Heidi is one of my personal favorites, by the way.
It would take me all day to list my favorite movie moments of hers, but I have to give special mention to her “On the good ship lollipop” scene in the film Bright Eyes. She was so charming in that scene, and it’s amazing to think she was only six.
Let’s take a look at some some moments in the early life of this child star who was a bright ray of sunshine for many people during the Great Depression, shall we? Well, Shirley’s mom, Gertrude, already had two sons before she was born, but there was a nagging feeling at the back of Gertrude’s mind that if she only had a daughter she could make her a movie star. Guess who came into her life after that? Why, it was none other than Shirley, who graced the world with her presence on April 23, 1928.
From her earliest days, Shirley was taught to sway to music, sing, and mimic voices, and in 1934 things really started taking off for her. She not only appeared in three features, including Bright Eyes, but she was also on 14 magazine covers and was the subject of countless articles. By the end of that year, there were Shirley Temple dolls, clothes, books, etc… flying of the shelves. As you can imagine, she had a hard time going out in public at that point due to a fear of being mobbed by people.
Shirley was so young, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have to put in a lot of work. She worked six days a week, and when she wasn’t doing something for a movie she had lots of costume fittings and photo shoots. Her mom was a big part of life; she not only helped her memorize her lines but she would sit next to the director on the set, calling out “Sparkle, Shirley, sparkle!” when filming would start. The studio did their part to accommodate Shirley’s long days; they built her a bungalow with furniture scaled to her size.
Hollywood was so proud of Shirley, and they gave her the first Juvenile Academy Award in 1935. Her films followed some sort of formula: goodness (in the form of her character) always triumphed over evil, and in the end all was right with the world.
Anne Edwards, a biographer said, “Her success [was] the combination of her own charm, Gertrude’s ambition, the world’s condition, good exposure and film stories that had accidentally placed the child in a position of being ‘Little Miss Fix-It’ in the lives of adults.”
In 1937, Shirley was among the highest paid actors that year at a whopping $307,000; she made 15 times that amount in endorsements and licensing that year. In 1938, her movies started to not do as well and her career faltered in 1939. You might not know this but she lost the lead in The Wizard Of Oz to Judy Garland after Fox refused to loan her to MGM. Shirley appeared in the film, The Blue Bird, instead which flopped.
Well, there you have a look at some moments in Shirley’s early life. When she passed away on Monday she was surrounded by her family members and caregivers.
The family said in a statement, “We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.” The family hasn’t disclosed the cause of death.
I always love learning interesting facts about people, so before I go I’ll leave you with the reason she stopped believing in Santa Claus when she was six. It was because when her mom took her to a department store to meet Santa Claus he had asked for her autograph.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how the Shirley Temple drink came to be, it’s believed that she “was at a restaurant with her parents and needed something nonalcoholic to drink. She was allegedly whining about her parents drinking ‘old-fashioneds,’ a sort of whiskey cocktail, and the wait staff made a version of it for her.”
Do you have a favorite Shirley Temple movie, hot zoners?