Shirley Temple


Actor
Shirley Temple

About

Also Known As
Shirley Jane Temple
Birth Place
Santa Monica, California, USA
Born
April 23, 1928
Died
February 10, 2014
Cause of Death
Copd

Biography

Shirley Temple emblazoned herself on the American cinema as something both otherworldly and accessible, a tiny angel sent to assuage the ills of mortal adults, as well as an archetype of the adorable, precocious moppet every parent wanted. Appearing in front of the camera at age four, she flashed her signature dimples or pout in more than 40 movies like "Curly Top" (1935) and "Rebecca of...

Photos & Videos

The Little Princess - Publicity Still
Bright Eyes - Title Lobby Card
Bright Eyes - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

John Agar
Husband
Actor. Married in 1945; divorced in 1949; born in 1920.
Charles Black
Husband
Businessman. Married in 1950; born in 1919.

Bibliography

"Child Star"
Shirley Temple Black (1988)

Notes

She, of course, had a non-alcoholic cocktail named for her, consisting of grenadine syrup and ginger ale.

The English author Graham Greene wrote a now famous article about Temple in which he alleged that she was really an adult impersonatimg a child after seeing her performance in "Wee Willie Winkie" in 1937.

Biography

Shirley Temple emblazoned herself on the American cinema as something both otherworldly and accessible, a tiny angel sent to assuage the ills of mortal adults, as well as an archetype of the adorable, precocious moppet every parent wanted. Appearing in front of the camera at age four, she flashed her signature dimples or pout in more than 40 movies like "Curly Top" (1935) and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1937) before she was a teenager. She tapped with legendary dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in four movies, made songs like "On the Good Ship Lollipop" and "Animal Crackers" pop cultural staples and was once credited by President Franklin Roosevelt for helping the United States through the bleak years of the Great Depression. She had mostly bowed out of show business by her adult years, but returned to the public eye under her married name of Shirley Temple Black in the late 1960s as a U.S. diplomat. However it would be her heyday years that would be best remembered, with Temple establishing a Hollywood idiom of the power of earnest innocence over cynicism, as well as making timeless the idea of a largely mythical "simpler America." Shirley Temple died at the age of 85 on February 10, 2014.

She was born Shirley Jane Temple on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, CA, to banker George Temple and his wife Gertrude. With Shirley the third child after two sons, Gertrude would quickly project her own ebbing theatrical dreams onto her daughter, whom she would famously urge to "sparkle" before nearly every performance. Gertrude claimed her daughter's first words were lyrics of a song by crooner Rudy Vallee and, when Shirley was only three years old, her mother enrolled her at the Meglin Dance Studio in Los Angeles. Her mother also took a heavy hand in defining her daughter's trademark appearance, including setting her hair in what would become her famous curls, and also added a year to her birthdate to pass Shirley off as even younger. It caught the attention of talent-spotters for Educational Studios, who cast the young Temple in their "Baby Burlesks" short films, a series of oddly ribald spoofs of feature films starring preschool-age actors playing adult characters. The work, however, came with an eerie twist on early Hollywood child labor; Temple, when she acted up, would be given a time-out in a solitary confinement box with only a block of ice to sit on, which, years later in her autobiography, she would write off as a "profound" lesson that "Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble."

Between Baby Burlesks and bit child roles in a studio films, Temple had racked up 20 credits in her first two years in the business when an exec from Fox Film Corp. spotted her and put her under contract. She made her major feature debut in "Stand Up and Cheer" (1934), an oddball ensemble film that featured her sparingly but tendered her first song-and-dance number with "Baby, Take a Bow." Her first bona fide starring role would come on a loan-out to Paramount for "Little Miss Marker" (1934), based on a Damon Runyon story, which featured her as a child, left at a racetrack as an IOU, charming her way into the hearts of hardboiled gamblers. She returned to Fox for "Baby Take a Bow" (1934), exploiting her previous breakout number, though plot-wise she remained subordinate to James Dunn (with whom she performed the title track in "Stand Up and Cheer") and Claire Trevor. But with her next outing, "Bright Eyes" (1934), Fox found a winning formula.

The movie placed her front and center as a daughter of the maid to a snobby wealthy family, who make her their ward when her mother dies, and whose grizzled old patriarch she ends up charming. The move featured her first rendition of "On the Good Ship Lollipop" - which became a hit single - as well as an overwrought finale where adults realize her transformative influence, in this case via a custody battle. The next year's "The Little Colonel" (1935) would see her first team-up with Bill Robinson, the venerable African-American dancer consigned routinely to crude stereotypes (which frequented Temple's pictures). It featured what would become their famous dance down a staircase. Not long after, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded her a special "juvenile" Academy Award for her debut work in 1934. With that and the finalization of the merger of Fox and Twentieth Century Pictures, new production chief Daryl Zanuck made Temple the frontispiece of his efforts to build the new Twentieth Century Fox into a major player.

Zanuck marshaled some of the studio's top talent around Temple, even if it yielded by-the-numbers film templates. She played orphans in "Curly Top" (1935), "Captain January" (1936), "Stowaway" (1936), "Dimples" (1936), "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1937), "Heidi" (1937), "Little Miss Broadway" (1938), "Susannah of the Mounties" (1939) and "Young People" (1940), if not orphaned, typically she played the never-say-die child of a beleaguered single parent, usually galvanizing the cast with a treacly number. Her movies produced a succession of radio hits including "Animal Crackers in My Soup" and "When I Grow Up" from "Curly Top," "Swing Me an Old-Fashioned Song" from "Little Miss Broadway," and "Goodnight My Love" from "Stowaway." She worked again with Robinson on three more films, most eerily returning to a Southern setting with him in "The Littlest Rebel" (1935), in which she plays the daughter of a noble ex-Confederate, the latter wrongly imprisoned by invading Northerners until she and Bojangles appeal to an amenable President Lincoln for help. Marred additionally by unconscionable African-American stereotypes, and Temple herself performing in blackface, the whole venture added insult to injury when shots of Robinson and Temple simply holding hands were considered improper and cut from prints shown in the South.

During her peak years, Temple became a phenomenon. Shirley Temple dolls sold in the outfits she wore in her movies, and mothers bought Shirley Temple dresses and accessories for their daughters. Kids and teetotalers could order a sweet, non-alcoholic cocktail called the Shirley Temple. In 1936, Fox revamped her contract to give her a stunning $50,000 per film, and her proliferating fans showered her with 16,000 letters a month at one point. President Franklin Roosevelt even invited her to a barbecue at his home in Hyde Park, NY, though her stalwart Republican parents disliked FDR and his New Deal. Temple's own rightward leanings were catalyzed early when the top cop in the country, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, befriended her and prompted an aspiration of her becoming an FBI agent. While her movies accounted for more revenues at the box office than any other actor from 1935 to 1938, Fox execs and Gertrude Temple execs kept her insulated from the mania, cloistering her in her own bungalow to prevent her from getting a swelled head and growing up too fast, letting her raise rabbits that she would rent to the studio. While she did often use her coquettish wiles to charm her directors and producers, she later said it endeared veteran director John Ford to her when he dismissed such attempts and treated her as any other actor on the set of "Wee Willie Winkie" (1937).

Toward the end of her Fox run, as she entered adolescence, her box office drawing power was directly proportional to her cuteness. When MGM began mulling its lavish production of "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), Temple was considered for the lead role of Dorothy, but an initial MGM test of her vocal skills found them wanting for the lavish musical production envisioned. The notion of a loan-out of Temple in exchange for an MGM loan to Fox of superstars Clark Gable and Jean Harlow went inert upon Harlow's tragic death in 1937. But Zanuck, seeing the big success of "Oz," attempted to field his own children's fantasy pic the next year, "The Blue Bird" (1940) with Temple as the star, but it would prove her first major flop and portend her end at Fox. When she sought a new studio in 1941, she had a curious meeting with MGM's Arthur Freed wherein, she later revealed, he exposed his genitals to her, to which she responded simply by laughing and leaving. Out of the studio system, she went to school with other students for the first time, returning intermittently to do films, such as the solemn homefront melodramas "Since You Went Away" (1944) and "I'll Be Seeing You" (1944) which curiously saw the onetime top box office draw billed fourth and third, respectively.

At age 17, she met one of her classmates' older brother, a young G.I. named John Agar, and in September 1945 they married amid a media frenzy, attended not only by movie moguls, California governor Earl Warren, and thousands of well-wishers. Temple envisaged a "normal" married life, but tabloids followed their every move and Agar soon became interested in acting. Meanwhile, Temple found top form as randy co-ed hot for a much older Cary Grant in the screwball comedy "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer" (1947), then did another complex turn in the dated soaper "That Hagen Girl" (1947) with Ronald Reagan. In 1948, she and Agar scored dual supporting roles in John Ford's "Fort Apache" (1948), with Temple playing the daughter of Henry Fonda's Custeresque cavalry officer, smitten with Agar as one of his officers. They would do one more film together, "Adventures in Baltimore" (1949), before the marriage imploded. Though Temple had found soon after their nuptials that Agar could be a surly drunk, he compounded it with philandering that became ever more brazen. When she went into labor with their daughter Susan, she drove to the hospital alone. She filed for divorce in late 1949 and retired from the cinema.

Only a few months later, on vacation in Hawaii, she met Charles Black, a maritime businessman and avid surfer, and fell in love at first sight, she claimed later. Black impressed her by knowing little of show business, familiar with neither her name nor her movies. After a whirlwind courtship, he proposed. She called J. Edgar Hoover to do a background check on him - Black turned up crime- and subversion-free - and she married him in December 1950, adding his last name. At this point she also discovered that her father had mismanaged the $3 million fortune she had made with Fox and supposedly safely stowed in a trust fund, with only $44,000 left. She would have one more dalliance with show business in the late '50s, hosting and occasionally taking a role in the anthology TV series "Shirley Temple's Storybook" (NBC/ABC, 1958-1962). During the same period, she helped co-found International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, a disease that had hit close to home by afflicting her brother George, Jr.

In 1967, upon the death of California congressman, she ran in the special election for the vacant seat, advocating an escalation of the Vietnam War. She lost, but with Richard Nixon's election the next year, he appointed her a U.S. delegate to the United Nations. Later, while working with the President's Council on Environmental Quality, she found a lump at on her left breast and was diagnosed with cancer, undergoing a mastectomy in 1972. She went public with the ailment, encouraging what would become a regular female health regiment of breast self-exams. Two years later, she was appointed U.S. ambassador to Ghana, and in 1976 became the State Department's first female Chief of Protocol, essentially the head instructor for newbies to the U.S. diplomatic corps. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed her ambassador to the Czech and Slovak Republic. Over the years, she built a dense résumé that included stints or affiliations with the Council on Foreign Relations, the Council of American Ambassadors, and the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University - not far from her Woodside, CA home. In 1998, she was a recipient of the esteemed Kennedy Center Honors. Charles Black died in 2005 of a bone marrow disease. The next year, the Screen Actors Guild presented her with the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award where she received a tremendous standing ovation. Shirley Temple died of natural causes at her home in Woodside, CA, on February 10, 2014.

By Matthew Grimm

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Why Havel? (1991)
Herself
Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988)
Herself
Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949)
Ellen Baker
Adventure in Baltimore (1949)
Dinah Sheldon
The Story of Seabiscuit (1949)
Margaret O'Hara
A Kiss for Corliss (1949)
Corliss Archer
Fort Apache (1948)
Philadelphia Thursday
That Hagen Girl (1947)
Mary Hagen
Honeymoon (1947)
Barbara [Ohmstead]
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947)
Susan [Turner]
Kiss and Tell (1945)
Corliss Archer
I'll Be Seeing You (1944)
Barbara Marshall
Since You Went Away (1944)
Bridget "Brig" Hilton
Miss Annie Rooney (1942)
Annie Rooney
Kathleen (1942)
Kathleen Davis
The Blue Bird (1940)
Mytyl
Young People (1940)
Wendy
The Little Princess (1939)
Sara Crewe [The Little Princess]
Susannah of the Mounties (1939)
Susannah Sheldon
Just Around the Corner (1938)
Penny [Hale]
Little Miss Broadway (1938)
Betsy Brown [later known as Betsy Shea]
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938)
Rebecca Winstead
Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)
Herself
Heidi (1937)
Heidi
Wee Willie Winkie (1937)
Priscilla Williams [later known as Wee Willie Winkie]
Poor Little Rich Girl (1936)
Barbara Barry
Stowaway (1936)
Ching-Ching [Barbara Stewart, later known as Barbara Randall]
Dimples (1936)
Dimples Appleby
Captain January (1936)
Star
Our Little Girl (1935)
Molly Middleton
Curly Top (1935)
Elizabeth Blair
The Littlest Rebel (1935)
Virgie Cary
The Little Colonel (1935)
Lloyd Sherman
Change of Heart (1934)
Shirley
Now I'll Tell (1934)
Mary [Doran]
Stand Up and Cheer! (1934)
Shirley Dugan
Bright Eyes (1934)
Shirley Blake
Baby Take a Bow (1934)
Shirley [Ellison]
Now and Forever (1934)
Penelope Day
Little Miss Marker (1934)
Little Miss Marker [Martha Jane]
Carolina (1934)
Joan Connelly
Mandalay (1934)
Betty Shaw
George White's Scandals (1934)
Daughter of Scandal Girl
Out All Night (1933)
Child
To the Last Man (1933)
Mary Stanley
Red Haired Alibi (1932)
Gloria Shelton

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story (2001)
Source Material (From Novel)
Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story (2001)
Consultant
Why Havel? (1991)
Other
Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988)
Other

Cast (Special)

The AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars (1999)
Host
The Kennedy Center Honors (1998)
The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998)
Performer
Havel's Audience With History (1990)
CBS Tournament of Roses Parade (1989)
LIFE: Fifty Years (1986)
Shirley Temple's Storybook: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)
Katrina Van Tassel

Music (Special)

Shirley Temple's Storybook: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)
Theme Song Performer ("Dreams Are Made For Children")

Life Events

1931

Appeared in "Baby Burlesks" risque comedy series as well as shorts produced by Educational Films

1932

First feature, "Red Haired Alibi"

1934

Achieved star status with "Stand Up and Cheer"

1934

Signed by Fox Studios (soon to become 20th Century Fox)

1934

Landed lead in "Bright Eyes"; performed signature song "On the Good Ship Lollipop"

1935

Touted as Hollywood's No. 1 box office star four years in a row

1935

Danced with Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson in "The Littlest Rebel"

1937

Starred in "Heidi"

1938

Appeared in the remake of "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"

1939

Played title role in "The Littlest Princess"

1940

Left 20th Century-Fox

1941

Signed by MGM; appeared in "Kathleen"

1942

Made last MGM film "Miss Annie Rooney"

1944

Appeared with Claudette Colbert and Jennifer Jones in "Since You Went Away"

1947

Starred opposite Cary Grant in "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer"

1949

Last features, "The Story of Seabiscuit" and "A Kiss for Corliss"

1958

Hosted own TV series "Shirley Temple's Storybook"; later renamed "Shirley Temple Theatre" (NBC, ABC)

1967

Unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Congress

1969

Appointed by President Richard Nixon as U.S. representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly

1974

Served as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana; appointed by President Gerald R. Ford

1976

Appointed as first female Chief of Protocol of the U.S.

1981

Joined the U.S. delegation on African Refugee Problems, Geneva

1987

Made first honorary U.S. Foreign Service Representative for the State Department

1988

Published her memoir <i>Child Star</i>

1989

Named U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia by President Ronald Reagan

1989

Named Grand Marshal of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade

1998

Was one of the honorees at The Kennedy Center Honors

2001

Served as consultant for "Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story" the ABC movie adaptation of her autobiography

2006

Given Lifetime Achievement Award at 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Photo Collections

The Little Princess - Publicity Still
The Little Princess - Publicity Still
Bright Eyes - Title Lobby Card
Bright Eyes - Title Lobby Card
Bright Eyes - Movie Poster
Bright Eyes - Movie Poster
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few Behind-the-Scenes photos taken during production of The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947).
Since You Went Away - Movie Poster
Here is an "advance" One-sheet movie poster for Since You Went Away (1944). The poster copy touts the previous successes of producer David O. Selznick.
Fort Apache - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Fort Apache (1948). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Fort Apache - Publicity Stills
Here are a number of publicity stills from Fort Apache (1948). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Kathleen - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Kathleen (1942), starring Shirley Temple. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Story of Seabiscuit - Movie Poster
Here is an original release American movie poster for The Story of Seabiscuit (1949), starring Shirley Temple and Barry Fitzgerald. This is a Half-sheet poster measuring 22" x 28".
The Story of Seabiscuit - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from The Story of Seabiscuit (1949), starring Shirley Temple and Barry Fitzgerald. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Little Colonel, The (1935) - I Ought To Kill You After a mild opening scene establishing Kentucky “in the 70’s,” just about the whole premise, Elizabeth (Evelyn Venable) aided by Hattie McDaniel wants to elope with yankee Jack (John Lodge) who seems decent but her grandfather the colonel (Lionel Barrymore) doesn’t care, in Shirley Temple’s first film with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, The Little Colonel, 1935.
Little Colonel, The (1935) - You've Captured An Entire Regiment After the marriage of her yankee father (John Lodge) and rebel mom in the 1870’s we leap forward to introduce the star, (Shirley Temple as young Lloyd Sherman, in the year she turned 7) at a U.S. Army outpost where Robert Warwick oversees her honorary investiture, in Fox Films’ The Little Colonel, 1935.
Little Colonel, The (1935) - My Dream Of Life (a.k.a Love's Young Dream) Shirley Temple as young Lloyd has conspired with servants Hattie McDaniel and Bill Robinson to assume a dress and bonnet that belonged to her mother, and advances her scheme to soften up her grouchy ex-Confederate grandfather the colonel (Lionel Barrymore), in The Little Colonel, 1935.
Little Colonel, The (1935) - My Old Kentucky Home Widely remarked upon especially decades later, the first inter-racial dancing couple in a Hollywood film, and Shirley Temple’s first number with her great friend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, featuring the stair-dancing for which he nearly won a legal patent, The Little Colonel, 1935.
Blue Bird, The (1940) - It's Against The Law! Opening in black & white from a Maurice Maeterlinck fantasy (thus seen as similar to the previous year’s The Wizard Of Oz), Shirley Temple and little bro Johnny Russell are woodcutters’ kids seeking a precious bird, Sybil Jason their bothersome friend, in 20th Century-Fox’s The Blue Bird, 1940.
Blue Bird, The (1940) - I Always Knew You Were A Fool! Just now transformed from the family cat and dog, Gale Sondergaard and Eddie Collins don’t agree on whether to aid the children (Shirley Temple as Mytyl, Johnny Russell as Tyltyl), guided by the spirit “Light” (Helen Ericson), in their search, in The Blue Bird, 1940, from a Maurice Maeterlinck story.
Blue Bird, The (1940) - Lay-Dee-O Now in a dream in Technicolor having found their deceased grandparents (Cecilia Loftus, Al Shean) in their search for a certain bird of happiness, Shirley Temple as Mytyl (Johnny Russell as littler Tyltyl) offers her only song in the picture, a traditional, in 20th Century-Fox’s The Blue Bird, 1940.
Adventure In Baltimore (1949) - My Anatomy Is Terrible Opening with 20-year-old Shirley Temple, now a young married mom, loaned out with her husband John Agar by David Selznick to RKO, with a narrated gag and encounters with Regina Wallace her teacher and Robert Young her minister father, in Adventure In Baltimore, 1949.
Adventure In Baltimore (1949) - The Little People Home early in 1905, expelled from boarding school for her liberal views about art, Shirley Temple as aspiring painter Dinah with her brother (Johnny Sands), the family maid (Tillie Born) and her mother (Josephine Hutchinson), in Adventure In Baltimore, 1949, from a story Lesser Samuels and Christopher Isherwood, also starring Temple’s husband John Agar.
Adventure In Baltimore (1949) - Making Flutter Eyes In the church where her father is pastor and her mother (Josephine Hutchinson) directs the choir, aspiring artist Dinah (Shirley Temple), expelled from boarding school for her progressive views, observes her childhood sweetheart Tom (John Agar, Temple’s husband) with his new gal (Carol Brannan), in Adventure In Baltimore, 1949.
Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) - Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers The big closing number, Shirley Temple with her frequent partner Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, an adaptation of the German standard by Leon Jessel, with a new lyric by Ballard MacDonald, cheered on by Paul Harvey, Jack Haley, Phyllis Brooks, Helen Westley, Slim Summerville, Gloria Stuart and Randolph Scott, in Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm, 1938.
Little Miss Broadway (1938) - Be Optimistic Opening with Shirley Temple replacing the youngest of the Brian Sisters trio, with a tune by Harold Spina and Walter Bullock, then Jane Darwell confirming her usual status as an orphan, in this case just being adopted, in Little Miss Broadway, 1938, featuring George Murphy and Jimmy Durante.

Trailer

Promo

Family

George Francis Temple
Father
Born in 1888; died in 1980.
Gerturde Amelia Temple
Mother
Born in 1893; died in 1977.
John Stanley Temple
Brother
Born in 1915.
George Francis Temple Jr
Brother
Born in 1919.
Linda Susan Agar
Daughter
Born in 1948.
Charles Alden Black Jr
Son
Born in 1952.
Lori Alden Black
Daughter
Born in 1954.
Theresa Falaschi
Granddaughter
Born in 1980.

Companions

John Agar
Husband
Actor. Married in 1945; divorced in 1949; born in 1920.
Charles Black
Husband
Businessman. Married in 1950; born in 1919.

Bibliography

"Child Star"
Shirley Temple Black (1988)

Notes

She, of course, had a non-alcoholic cocktail named for her, consisting of grenadine syrup and ginger ale.

The English author Graham Greene wrote a now famous article about Temple in which he alleged that she was really an adult impersonatimg a child after seeing her performance in "Wee Willie Winkie" in 1937.

"You've heard of chess champions at eight and violin virtuosos at ten. Well, she is an Ethel Barrymore at six." --Adolphe Menjou, facing the unenviable task of co-starring opposite Temple during the production of "Little Miss Marker" (1934)

"i'm very proud of what I did and I loved my career and have good, funny memories and all the good things that come with 19 years of working as an actress. And then I've had 25 years of fascinating work in diplomatic service, so it's certainly two different career tracks, both completely different but both very rewarding, personally." --Shirley Temple Black to New York Post, April 23, 1996.

Made special assistant to chairman of the President's Council on the Environment from 1970-72.