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.”

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”).

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.

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.

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.

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

Movies' Greatest Mirror Scenes
Anne Billson has a great piece in The Telegraph on mirror scenes in movies, from the Marx brothers clowning in "Duck Soup" and the shootout in "The Lady from Shanghai" to Elizabeth Taylor scrawling on the mirror with lipstick in "Butterfield 8." [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKTT-sy0aLg

posted 8:00:51am Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »

How Do Movies Show Time Passing?
Someone once said that movies are "pieces of time." A few take place in "real time." Alfred Hitchcock's experiment, "Rope," unfolds in just the time it takes us to watch it, all in what appears to be one seamless shot. But others take place over days, weeks, years, even generations. Slavko Vorkap

posted 8:00:40am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Boring TV Makes You Fat
A new study finds that boring television leads to mindless snacking and that leads to putting on pounds. So, watch programs that excite and engage you. Or, if the show is boring, turn off the television.

posted 8:00:05am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Switched at Birth and the End of Life
I'm a big fan of ABC Family's Switched at Birth and have appreciated its complicated characters, honest and heartfelt relationships, and compelling storylines, as well as its unprecedented, in-depth portrayal of the deaf community. Last week's episode may have been the all-time best (SPOILER ALERT)

posted 3:59:49pm Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014
It's here!  San Diego Comic-Con begins Wednesday night in San Diego and I'll be there.  This is my favorite event of the year, a chance to find out what everyone will be watching, listening to, playing, and otherwise enjoying over the next few years.  As I always say, this is the Iowa caucuses of

posted 8:00:20am Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

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

All reported content is logged for investigation.