Shirley Temple was one of America’s, and the world’s, most loved actresses. A remarkable feat considering Shirley Temple had already made the bulk of her movies by the time she was 21. Shirley Temple was the definition of child star, born in 1928, she was dancing in low budget films when she was only 3 ½ years old. By 1940 she had made 43 films.
Shirley was the little girl with curly blonde hair that captured America’s heart in a time of immense struggle. The Great Depression had started in 1928 with the Wall Street stock market crash. Shirley was a symbol of hope with her youthful optimism and vibrancy. She became the personification of the dream of the public that times could and would improve.
Her films became instant favourites with the public and the appetite for all things Shirley Temple was insatiable. To have any Shirley Temple merchandise was a must, dolls, hats, dresses, mugs; anything with Shirley’s picture on it was a hit. Given the economic struggles at the time it showed just how popular she was.
Her films are now classic movies of the time and are just as popular today. Movies such as Heidi, Baby Take a Bow, Bright Eyes (which famously introduced the song ‘On The Good Ship Lollipop’), Dimples, Stowaway and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm are just a select few of her huge body of work.
Unfortunately, as Shirley grew older she became less popular with the movie going public, as she was not the little girl with dimples anymore. However Shirley did not let this stop her from becoming a force for change in the world. She turned her attention to community and helping others, especially the world’s youth. She worked with the United Nations, was ambassador to Ghana in the 1970’s, and ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the collapse of Communism in 1989.
Shirley Temple showed that she was never going to become a stereotypical child actor that cannot get past their childhood achievements. She forged a political and humanitarian career where she used her fame to help others, while at the same time maintaining a 55 year long marriage and a happy family.
Shirley Temple passed away on 10th February 2014 at age 85. She was a person that captivated so many with her films, her humanitarian work and her efforts to make a real difference in the world. Her work lives on in DVDs and in our memories.