Shirley Temple was only four years old when she made her first short picture for Universal Studios in 1932. She was featured in several shorts between 1932 and ’34 with a group of other child actors. One of her more popular shorts was entitled “Kid in Hollywood,” in which Temple plays aspiring young actress Morelegs Sweettrick whose career is a failure: “it went flippity flop.”
Luckily for us, Temple’s real acting career didn’t go flippity flop until many many years later, after she’d made some 60 films. She would embark on a new career in politics and international diplomacy throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, serving as Ambassador to Ghana (1974-76) and Czechoslovakia (1989-92).
In the early 1970s Shirley Temple Black became one of the first to speak openly about her struggle with breast cancer, having undergone a radical mastectomy. She lived a full and rich life before passing away of natural causes early this week at her home in California. She was 85 years old. Black is survived by her three children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Obituary
Performances to cherish
For a great list of 10 Classic Films Starring Shirley Temple, check out Jennifer Garlen‘s Examiner article. Here are my personal favorite Temple flicks. Please stick around and tell me about your family’s favorite Shirley Temple movies in the comment section below. I’d love to hear your stories about how you came to know and love Hollywood’s precious curly top!
NEW DEAL RHYTHM (1933)
An itsy bitsy Shirley Temple gives her two bits about spinach in a brief performance in this musical number celebrating President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration in 1933. Marjorie Main also makes an appearance as the representative from Arizona (the only female representative present).
BRIGHT EYES (1934)
Temple sings her classic number “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in this emotional film about a little orphan girl who is looked after by her late father’s aviator friends at the airfield. America was fascinated by the world of aviation in the 1930s, and the intrigue of this new technology inspired by famous flyers Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and Howard Hughes, was reflected in a lot of Hollywood films of the era, including this adorable Temple movie.
THE LITTLE COLONEL (1935)
My best neighborhood friend growing up had this movie and I always insisted on watching it when we had a slumber party. Temple is her most candidly adorable in this movie about a young girl committed to melting the heart of her crusty old grandfather. She succeeded in melting the heart of every theatre-goer in America, myself included. After seeing this dance number, it was years before I ever walked up stairs like a normal person again!
I consider “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri one of the best children stories of all time, and this film is a great version of the classic tale. Heidi’s trials and joys touch the heart, and who better to portray the young Swiss miss than the curly headed blonde sweetheart. This movie is a real pleasure to share with the family at any time of the year. Also a good sick-day movie for grownups who don’t want to face another slushy February rush hour! 😉
THE LITTLE PRINCESS (1939)
Despite its extreme variation from the beloved children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this version of the classic tale is told with such charm, and with such a wonderful cast, including Arthur Treacher, Anita Louise, Mary Nash, and even Cesar Romero, it’s hard to fault it. For a more in-depth analysis, check out The Battle of the Little Princesses: Novel vs. Film.
As Shirley Temple was trying to navigate the awkward shift from child star to adult, she made this movie as Susan, the younger sister of Judge Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy). Cary Grant is as charming and handsome as always as the devil-may-care artist who is always is and out of Judge Turner’s court. When Susan falls in love with him during his lecture at her school, the family must band together to straighten things out. Reasons I love this movie: A.) Cary Grant. B.) Myrna Loy plays a successful professional woman. A judge, no less! C.) Myrna Loy’s character is Margaret and that’s my name and that’s awesome. D.) Shirley Temple is convincing as the lovestruck teenager who is desperate to be taken seriously by her family and friends. E. F. and G.) Cary Grant.