Shirley Temple
Answer to Name This Famous Person Game - April 2014
by Mike McLeod

“I class myself with Rin Tin Tin. People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog
and a little girl.”

Those who correctly identified Shirley Temple were: Pat Kimbrell of Old School Antique Mall in Sylva, N.C.; Sherry Blanton; Ted Carlton of Utah; Joe Campbell of Alexander City, Ala.; Jeanne Waters; Scott and Carolyn Brown of Memories Flea An’Tique Mall in Prattville, Ala.; Stan Autry of San Antonio, Texas; Dorothy Harpe of Augusta, Ga.; Sherron Lawson of Roswell, Ga.; and Melonie Wallace of Kennesaw, Ga.; and Sandy Camarda; Mark Yamashiro; Charles McDuffee of Montgomery, Ala.; and Joe Copeland of Oak Ridge, Tenn..

On February 10th of this year, Shirley Temple Black passed away at the age of 85. Child star, child legend, Shirley Temple is credited by many for keeping hope alive during the Great Depression. Even Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt said of her, “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.” 


On April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California, Shirley was born into the family of George and Gertrude Temple. She had two older brothers. Her mother is credited with beginning her daughter’s career by taking her to dancing, acting and singing lessons where she was spotted by a casting director. After a few minor roles, she was signed by Fox Films Corporation and acted in Stand Up and Cheer! in 1934, which launched her stellar career.

Her next movies were Little Miss Marker and Now and Forever while on loan to Paramount. Little Miss Marker ran for three weeks in New York City, and in that city alone, it grossed more than $100,0001, about $1.8 million today. After this, her salary was elevated to $1,250 per week2, which is equal to about $22,000 per week today. Not bad for a six year old.

Without a doubt, she was worth every penny of it. “By the end of 1934, aged six, she was the eighth biggest draw in America.”3 She also earned a miniature Academy Award that year for her performances.

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.”

In 1936, two of Shirley Temple’s movies, Dimples and Stowaway, made $1 million each ($16.8 million today) in the U.S. alone. On the strength of her talent, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer tried to get Shirley Temple for the role of “Dorothy” in The Wizard of Oz. Fox turned down the offer and instead cast her in Susannah of the Mounties, which was a successful movie for her. Yet, Judy Garland went on to have a successful movie career as an adult while Shirley Temple did not.

Shirley Temple in 1934.
(Photo: theredlist.com)

Shirley Temple in 1990.

1935 Ardath Tobacco card of Shirley Temple from Australia. (Photo: ebay seller wa.cards.)

“I'm not too proud of the movies I made as a grownup except for That Hagen Girl, which nobody remembers but which gave me a chance to act.”

Shirley Temple ended her acting career in her early twenties after the viewing public had difficulties in seeing the child star grow up. She did star in a few movies including The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer with Cary Grant and Fort Apache with John Wayne and her first husband John Agar. However, her film career ended in 1949. She transitioned to TV for a while with Shirley Temple’s Storybook, which aired 12 episodes from 1958 to 1961.

Shirley married John Agar when she was 17, and they had one child a few years later. They were divorced in 1949. In 1950, she married Charles Black who earned the Silver Star in the Navy during World War II and who served again during the Korean War. They had two children and remained married until his death in 2005.

Shirley Temple shifted to public service after her movie and TV careers, and she was appointed as a representative to the U.N. by Pres. Richard Nixon in 1967. Pres. Ford named her as an ambassador to Ghana, and Pres. George H.W. Bush chose her as an ambassador to Czechoslovakia. She also served as Chief of Protocol of the United States in 1976-1977.

While a mint, 15-inch Shirley Temple 1957 Ideal Doll with wrist tag, all original in the box, went for more than $1,500 at some time in the past, one sold more recently for $275 on ebay. Dolls of her are plentiful, and most sell from $35 to less than $200 in mint or near-mint condition. However, there are some stand-outs. A 16-inch 1935 Ideal Shirley Temple Baby Doll sold for $2,266 on ebay. An 18-inch 1937 Ideal in a Wee Willie Winkie outfit brought $1,287, and an 18-inch doll in The Littlest Rebel outfit sold for $872.

Since Shirley Temple was so popular, it could be said that she was over merchandised, as far as collectors are concerned. Photos, postcards, buttons, pitchers, mugs, fountain pens and so on can be found for a few dollars or less than $20. Even a 1935 Shirley Temple Ardath Tobacco card from Australia sold for only $3.

Shirley Temple made 43 movies and 14 short films during her career. More importantly, she made millions of people happy and hopeful during one of the greatest trials this nation has endured.

 ----------------------------

1 Tcm.com.
2 The Milwaukee Sentinel, “Shirley Temple’s Pay to be $1,250,” July 19, 1934. p.12.
3 Sonyradio.com.
Quotes are from Brainyquote.com and Hitfix.com.
 

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