Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Tribute: Shirley Temple

posted by Nell Minow

In the darkest days of the Depression, the biggest movie star in the world was a little girl with a dimple and hair in ringlets that bounced when she tap-danced.  We mourn the loss of Shirley Temple Black, a child star-turned ambassador, one of the all-time Hollywood greats and a public servant who served her country with grace and devotion.

Temple was only three when she began performing in short films, like the silly “Baby Burlesks,” with toddlers re-enacting adult dramas.  By the time she was six, Temple was a star.  Her breakthrough role was in Bright Eyes, where she sang what would be her signature tune, “On the Good Ship Lollypop.”

Advertisement

YouTube Preview Image

Shirley Temple was an astonishingly gifted performer. In her most memorable dance numbers she kept up with the best dancers of the time. Here she is with the legendary Bojangles, Bill Robinson, teaching her his famous stair dance.

YouTube Preview Image

Here she dances with Alice Faye and Jack Haley (the Tin Woodsman in “The Wizard of Oz”).

Advertisement

YouTube Preview Image

And in movies like “Captain January,” “Heidi,” and “The Little Princess” she showed that she was an actress of exceptional magnetism.

The studio did its best to get the most out of her childhood, keeping her on a relentless schedule of four films a year, shortening her skirts so she would look younger. She was more than a star. She was a phenomenon. More than a million Shirley Temple dolls were sold and her name and face were on dozens of products. She met Presidents and received a special Oscar. And she said she figured out that there was no Santa Claus when the one her mother took her to asked for her autograph.  The non-alcoholic drink named for her is still served everywhere today.  Girls all over the country had their hair put in rags to make ringlets and were sent to tap dance school to be like her.  If your grandmother or great-grandmother isn’t named Shirley, she has a friend named for Shirley Temple.

Advertisement

But she grew up. For a while, she stayed in movies. She was charming as a teenager who had a crush on Cary Grant in romantic comedy “The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer,” which won an Oscar for best screenplay.

YouTube Preview Image

And she was lovely in the western “Fort Apache” and the wartime drama “Since You Went Away.”

YouTube Preview Image

In the 1950’s, she produced and hosted an anthology series of fairy tales for television, starring in The Little Mermaid.

Advertisement

After a brief marriage to actor John Agar at age 17, who appeared with her in two films, she was happily married to Charles Black. She became involved in politics and ran unsuccessfully for Congress. She was appointed Representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon and was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana by President Gerald R. Ford. She was then appointed first female Chief of Protocol of the United States, and was in charge of arrangements for President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and inaugural ball. She served as the United States Ambassador to then-Czechoslovakia, appointed by President George H. W. Bush.  She bravely went public with her diagnosis of breast cancer, helping other women to come forward and to bring attention to the disease.

Advertisement

Here is her Screen Actors Guild Award tribute.

YouTube Preview Image

And her Kennedy Center Honor presentation.

YouTube Preview Image

May her memory be a blessing.

Previous Posts

Interview: Matt Mamula of Celebrity Impersonator Documentary "Just About Famous"
Matt Mamula co-directed "Just About Famous," the very entertaining new documentary about celebrity impersonators. He generously took time to talk to me about the unexpected opportunities that open up when someone looks like someone who becomes ...

posted 3:59:51pm Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Barak Goodman of "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies"
Director Barak Goodman talked to me about his superb series for PBS, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, now available on DVD. The series is produced ...

posted 3:55:04pm Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Creativity Conference 2015: Nancy Pelosi, Snoopy, and Drones with GoPros
I had so much fun at last year's Creativity Conference that I could not imagine how they could top it this year, but they succeeded. This is ...

posted 3:07:48pm Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: The Little Prince
The beloved book The Little Prince has been gorgeously animated, with voices including Jeff Bridges, James Franco, and Rachel McAdams.  I love this trailer. [iframe frameborder="0" width="480" height="270" ...

posted 8:00:24am Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Samuel L. Jackson is the President in "Big Game"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKThy0cipVA ...

posted 8:00:34am Apr. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.