Shirley Temple (April 23, 1928 — February 10, 2014) is arguably the most famous child actress in film history. She was the top box office draw for four straight years, 1935-38, a record no other child star has come close to.
She was very popular during the desperate times of The Great Depression
, but those viewing her films today are more likely to have a reaction of Tastes Like Diabetes
due to most of her films being sugary goop, and Values Dissonance
, due to her blackface scene in The Littlest Rebel
, though the many times she was paired with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson can be considered one of the few times that a black man and a white girl could be seen on film together during the days of The Hays Code
, which didn't allow interracial pairings (especially if they were sexual and/or romantic; this one got a free pass since it was obviously platonic)
Temple's career tailed off as she approached adulthood, partly because she wasn't getting many good roles and possibly in part because audiences weren't comfortable with cute little Shirley Temple growing into a very pretty young woman. She retired from show business at age 21. After leaving the stage, Temple entered politics, serving terms as chief of protocol and the U.S. Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
Temple died at the age of 85 in February 2014.
For some reason, characters based off her tend to be Spoiled Brats
, despite Shirley never really doing that in her films or real life.note
Be careful not to confuse her with Darla Hood
Shirley Temple films listed on this wiki include:
This actress provides examples of:
- Blackface: At one point in The Littlest Rebel, Shirley's character dons blackface to disguise herself as a slave.
- Cheerful Child: Ms. Temple's usual role.
- Shirley's mother wanted her to be able to play sassy little brats, maybe even Enfants Terribles, and Shirley herself wanted to play more Action Girl type roles, but the studio (20th Century Fox) wouldn't allow either one.
- Cute but Cacophonic: A mild example: she couldnít carry a tune and her singing voice was rather mediocre, but she didnít sound much worse than your average child, and it just made her come off as adorable.
- The Danza: In four of her early films.note
- If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: In Poor Little Rich Girl, Temple's character, Barbara, is forced to eat spinach, and says something along the lines of this. Barbara even performs a song on the radio based around this.
- Heartwarming Orphan: She often (but not always) played these in her films.
- Hole in Flag: Her ambassadorship to Czechoslovakia coincided with the Velvet Revolution, when the country peacefully transitioned from communism to democracy. In fact, she was the second-to-last U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia before it split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Didn't know that, did you?
- Pretty in Mink: She wore a white rabbit fur coat in one movie, and that's been the most common real fur choice for girls' coats since.
- The Red Stapler: Temple set a lot of trends for girls, notably the hairstyle.
- And the first name "Shirley", which was originally a boys' name (among others, the name is given to one of Anne's sons in Anne of Green Gables). To this day, Shirley is a time capsule name dated to the peak of Temple's popularity that makes it very difficult for a woman to lie about her age.
- Regal Ringlets
- She Is All Grown Up: Her later films, like Since You Went Away and The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer. Audiences of the time didn't take it well.
- What Could Have Been: She was considered for the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz before the part was given to Judy Garland. Temple was age-appropriate, while Garland was a good six years older than the Dorothy of Baum's novel.
- The reason Garland was chosen over Temple was due to the fact that, back in those days, creative talent had to sign long-term contracts with specific film studios that usually forbade them from taking work from elsewhere (penalties for moonlighting were harsh). Oz was an MGM film, but Temple was signed to 20th Century Fox, who refused to release her. Also, there was the little issue of Oz being a musical and Shirley's poor singing ability.