Nationality: American. Born: Shirley Jane Temple in Santa Monica, California, 23 April 1928. Education: Attended Westlake School for Girls. Family: Married 1) the actor John Agar Jr., 1945 (divorced 1949), daughter: Linda Susan; 2) Charles Alden Black, 1950, son: Charles, daughter: Lori. Career: Child actress from age four in series of shorts for Educational Pictures; 1934—contract with Fox: series of popular films in the 1930s made her the most popular Hollywood star for the years 1935–38; 1940s—declining popularity; made films for various studios; 1958–60—host, and occasional actor, The Shirley Temple Storybook TV series; 1968—appointed U.S. Representative to the United Nations; 1974–76—U.S. Ambassador to Ghana; 1976–77—U.S. Chief of Protocol; 1989–92—U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia. Awards: Special Academy Award, "in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934"; Recipient of Kennedy Center Honors, 1998. Address: 115 Lakeview Drive, Woodside, CA 94062, U.S.A.
Films as Actress:
War Babies (Lamont—short) (as Charmaine); The Runt Page (La Verne—short) (as Lulu Parsnips); Pie Covered Wagon (Lamont—short) (as captive); Glad Rags to Riches (Lamont—short) (as La Belle Diaperina); The Red-Haired Alibi (Cabanne) (as Gloria)
Kid's Last Fight (Lamont—short) (as girlfriend); Kid 'n' Hollywood (Lamont—short) (as Morelegs Sweet Trick); Pooly-tix in Washington (Lamont—short) (as gold digger); Kid 'n' Africa (Lamont—short) (as Madame Cradlebait); Merrily Yours (Lamont—short) (as Mary Lou Rogers); Dora's Dunkin' Doughnuts (Edwards—short) (as pupil); To the Last Man (Hathaway) (as Mary Standing); Out All Night (Sam Taylor) (as child)
Pardon My Pups (Lamont—short) (as Mary Lou); Managed Money (Lamont—short) (as Mary Lou); New Deal Money (short); Carolina (The House of Connelly) (Henry King) (as girl); Mandalay (Curtiz) (as Betty Shaw); Stand Up and Cheer (McFadden) (as Shirley Dugan); Now I'll Tell (While New York Sleeps) (Burke) (as Mary Golden); Change of Heart (Blystone) (as Shirley, girl on airplane); Little Miss Marker (Hall) (title role); Baby, Take a Bow (Lachman) (as Shirley); Now and Forever (Hathaway) (as Penelope Day); Bright Eyes (David Butler) (as Shirley Blake)
The Little Colonel (David Butler) (as Lloyd Sherman, the Little Colonel); Our Little Girl (Robertson) (as Molly Middleton); Curly Top (Cummings) (as Betsy Blair); The Littlest Rebel (David Butler) (as Virginia Houston Cary)
Captain January (David Butler) (as Star); Poor Little Rich Girl (Cummings) (as Barbara Barry); Dimples (Seiter) (as Sylvia Dolores); Stowaway (Seiter) (as Ching-Ching)
Wee Willie Winkie (Ford) (as Priscilla Williams); Heidi (Dwan) (title role)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (Dwan) (title role); Little Miss Broadway (Cummings) (as Betsy Brown); Just around the Corner (Cummings) (as Penny Hale)
The Little Princess (Walter Lang) (as Sara Crewe); Susannah of the Mounties (Seiter) (title role)
The Blue Bird (Walter Lang) (as Mytyl); Young People (Dwan) (as Wendy)
Kathleen (Bucquet) (title role)
Miss Annie Rooney (Marin) (title role)
Since You Went Away (Cromwell) (as Bridget Hilton); I'll Be Seeing You (Dieterle) (as Barbara Marshall)
Kiss and Tell (Wallace) (as Corliss Archer)
Honeymoon (Two Men and a Girl) (Keighley) (as Barbara Olmstead); The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (Bachelor Knight) (Reis) (as Susan); That Hagen Girl (Godfrey) (title role)
Fort Apache (Ford) (as Philadelphia Thursday)
Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (Nugent) (as Ellen Baker); Adventure in Baltimore (Bachelor Bait) (Wallace) (as Dinah Sheldon); The Story of Seabiscuit (David Butler) (as Margaret O'Hara); A Kiss for Corliss (Wallace) (as Corliss Archer)
That's Dancing! (Haley Jr.) (as herself)
Going Hollywood: The War Years (doc—archival)
By TEMPLE: books—
My Young Life, with the editors of Look, Garden City, New York, 1945. Child Star, New York, 1988.
By TEMPLE: articles—
"Tomorrow I'll Be Thirty," in Good Housekeeping, November 1957.
"Shirley Temple Black," an interview with Michael Buckley, in Films in Review (New York), May-June 1993.
On TEMPLE: books—
Beatty, Jerome, Shirley Temple, Akron, Ohio, 1935.
Eby, Lois, Shirley Temple: The Amazing Story of the Child Actress Who Grew Up to Be America's Fairy Princess, Derby, Connecti-cut, 1962.
Kennedy-Minott, Rodney, The Sinking of the Lollipop; Shirley Temple vs. Pete McCloskey, San Francisco, 1968.
Rosen, Marjorie, Popcorn Venus, New York, 1973.
Basinger, Jeanine, Shirley Temple, New York, 1975.
Burdick, Loraine, The Shirley Temple Scrapbook, Middle Village, New York, 1975.
Bowers, Ronald, The Selznick Players, South Brunswick, New Jer-sey, 1976.
Windeler, Robert, The Films of Shirley Temple, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1978.
David, Lester, and Irene David, The Shirley Temple Story, New York, 1983.
Moore, Dick, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, New York, 1984.
Edwards, Anne, Shirley Temple: American Princess, New York, 1988.
Sinclair, Marianne, Hollywood Lolita: The Nymphet Syndrome in the Movies, London, 1988.
On TEMPLE: articles—
Temple, Gertrude, "Bringing Up Shirley," in American, Febru-ary 1935.
Current Biography 1970, New York, 1970.
Eckert, C., "Shirley Temple and the House of Rockefeller," in Jump Cut (Chicago), July/August 1974.
Cassa, A., "Shirley Temple Black: America's Foremost Childstar, Who Almost Was Dorothy!," in Hollywood Studio, no. 3, 1984.
Quinlan, D., "The Way They Were," in Photoplay, March 1987.
Bishop, K., "Shirley Temple: Celebrity or Generic Term?," in New York Times, 29 October 1988.
Ward, G. C., "America's Baby," in American Heritage, March 1989.
Yorkshire, H., "Shirley Temple Black Sets the Record Straight," in McCall's, March 1989.
"A Salute to Shirley Temple!," in Hollywood Studio, no. 3, 1989.
Ryan, Michael, "As Ambassador to Prague, Shirley Temple Black Watches a Rebirth of Freedom," in People Weekly (New York), 8 January 1990.
Cadden, V., "Return to Prague," in McCall's, April 1990.
Bassan, R., "Nostalgie," in Revue du Cinéma, December 1990.
Early, G. L., "Black Like . . . Shirley Temple?," in Harper's (New York), February 1992.
Wood, B., "Lolita Syndrome," in Sight & Sound (London), June 1994.
Galvan, Sylvia G., "Whatever Happened to Shirley Temple and Fans?" in Classic Images (Muscatine), September 1994.
Orr Vered, Karen, "White and Black in Black and White: Management of Race and Sexuality in the Coupling of Child Star Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson," in Velvet Light Trap (Austin), Spring 1997.
* * *
Shirley Temple was the darling of the Great Depression. She was the biggest box-office attraction during one of the bleakest periods of American history. As she sang and danced her way into the hearts of millions of Americans, Temple became an institution. There were Shirley Temple dolls, toys, and clothes (including a line of bathing suits), and her curly hair (which evoked the celebrated curls of America's first "Little Sweetheart"—Mary Pickford) was imitated eagerly by countless little girls. Why was Shirley Temple so beloved? Although her films were formulaic and generally dismissed by critics, she redeemed them with her overwhelming charisma and spirited performances. Indeed, there has been no other child star before or since who has been as popular or who demonstrated her extraordinary talents as a singer, dancer, or actress.
Shirley played bit parts in several short films during the early 1930s, but her star soared with Stand Up and Cheer in which she sang "Baby, Take a Bow." Although she played a minor role, she stole the show with her cute, dimpled face and irresistible charm, and the film proved to be a smash hit. Temple's success continued in movies such as Little Miss Marker, Baby, Take a Bow, and Bright Eyes—in which she delivered her memorable song-and-dance rendition of "On the Good Ship Lollipop." Despite their youth and innocence, it seemed there was no challenge too large for Temple's characters. During the mid-1930s, Temple played an orphan at least nine times, a matchmaker at least twice, and she reunited her own broken family at least four times. Her screen characters had even loftier goals as well: she brings peace to India in Wee Willie Winkie and personally asks President Lincoln to pardon her imprisoned Confederate father in The Littlest Rebel. Also compelling is that Temple's characters display no overt racial or class biases (although the same cannot be said about her films in general). On several occasions, she performs with black characters; and when her characters were wealthy, they typically cavorted with less fortunate characters. Indeed, one of her most engaging performances occurs in The Little Colonel when she dances with the legendary Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Accordingly, it seems, wrapped up in this little girl were many of the ideals that Americans cherished but rarely practiced.
Despite that she provided an antidote of sorts to Mae West's scandalously aggressive screen sexuality, the Temple persona evokes an unmistakable sexual quality that was visible in both her screen characterizations and her publicity photographs. Indeed, even in her earliest screen roles she played the leads in a series of one-reel films titled "Baby Burlesks," that lampooned popular movies and movie stars, including the sultry Marlene Dietrich. And, in her subsequent leading roles, she was invariably paired with attentive older men with whom she expressed a distinct and rather demonstrative affection.
Between 1934 and 1939 Temple was enormously popular, but in her early teens her popularity started to decline. Her audience was accustomed to seeing her play enchanting little girls, and was apparently unwilling to accept her on-screen maturity. As a result, in the early 1940s she played mostly supporting roles as a teenager, though she did enjoy a brief comeback that started with her appearance in the wartime epic Since You Went Away, and continued with I'll Be Seeing You, and Kiss and Tell. Soon however, her star started to sink once again, and when she was only 21, Temple retired from movies. Then, after her experience in two short-lived television shows in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Temple permanently left acting behind. In the late 1960s, she tried her hand at politics, and she has been successful in this realm ever since. Her résumé includes her service as a United Nations representative, the U.S. Chief of Protocol, and as ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
—Maryann Oshana, updated by Cynthia Felando
Temple, Shirley (b. 1928)
Temple, Shirley (b. 1928)
In the annals of movie history, no actor or actress represents the phenomenon of child stardom better than Shirley Temple. "Discovered" by Hollywood at the age of six, Temple achieved extraordinary fame during the 1930s and became, for a decade, the world's most celebrated child. When Temple became a teenager, however, her career declined and by her sixteenth birthday she had fallen out of public favor. Her phenomenal rise and sudden fall, amply documented in the magazines and tabloids of the period, illustrated to Americans both the joys and perils of childhood stardom.
Born in 1928 in Santa Monica, California, Temple began her movie career as a toddler, when she appeared in a series of low budget films called "Baby Burlesks." Trained in singing and tap dancing, in 1933 Temple was hired by Hollywood's Fox studio to appear in the musical Stand Up and Cheer, and her performance instantly catapulted her to stardom. Between 1934 and 1940, Temple appeared in over a dozen films for Fox and became not only the studio's biggest asset but, between 1935 and 1938, the most popular film star in America, surpassing such screen giants as Clark Gable and Mae West.
To moviegoers in the 1930s, Temple's appeal was obvious. Perky, talented, and cute–her trademarks were her dimples and ringlets of golden hair–Temple conveyed a message of hope and optimism to Depression-era America. Her on-screen tap dances and renditions of such popular tunes as "The Good Ship Lollipop" won the affections of millions of fans worldwide, who purchased thousands of Shirley Temple dolls, tore at her clothes during her personal appearances, and on her eighth birthday, showered her with over one hundred thousand gifts. Perhaps her most famous admirer was President Franklin Roosevelt, who credited "Little Miss Miracle" with raising the nation's spirits during the economic crisis.
For nearly a decade, Temple enchanted audiences with her appearances in such childhood classics as Poor Little Rich Girl (1935), Wee Willie Winkie (1937), Rebecca of SunnybrookFarm (1938), and The Little Princess (1939). In the early 1940s, Temple left Fox and signed on with producer David Selznick, who cast her in a series of more mature roles, including a part as an adolescent daughter in Since You WentAway (1944) and a high school girl with a crush on an older man in the Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer (1947). By then, the teenage Temple could no longer attract audiences, and after a role in Fort Apache (1948), in which she starred with her husband, John Agar, she retired from the screen.
Unlike many fallen child stars, however, Temple made a comeback. After a decade hosting television programs, during the 1960s she began a second career, in politics. After an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1967, she was appointed by President Richard Nixon as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In 1974, she became U.S. ambassador to Ghana, and in 1976, Chief of Protocol during the Ford administration. Her autobiography, Child Star, was published in 1988.
See also: Media, Childhood and the; Movies.
Black, Shirley Temple. 1988. Child Star. New York: McGraw-Hill.