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

Tonight on PBS: Memorial Day Concert
On the eve of Memorial Day, PBS will broadcast a star-studded lineup for the annual Memorial Day concert and tribute to the military. For over 25 years, this multiple-award-winning television event has honored the military service and sacrifice ...

posted 12:00:37pm May. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Movies for Memorial Day
I've already written about great documentaries and feature films about the military to watch on Memorial Day.  These recent documentaries about our 21st century conflicts give the military a chance to tell their own story.  They are not ...

posted 8:00:08am May. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Batkid Begins
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JMUw4Ndpbdw?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0" frameborder="0"] The amazing Make-a-Wish story that captivated the world is now a movie, and I've been looking forward to it ...

posted 8:00:33am May. 23, 2015 | read full post »

A Clip from A.D. The Bible Continues -- Jesus Appears to Saul
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHhESz-i9wY[/youtube] Jesus appears to Saul to turn him towards righteousness in this clip from Episode 8 of "A.D. The Bible Continues," premiering Sunday, May 24, 2015, at 9/8c on NBC. ...

posted 10:52:40pm May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Tomorrowland's Inspirations
Brad Bird's gorgeously imagined "Tomorrowland" is not just inspired by an area in the original Disneyland, celebrating its 60th anniversary this week, it is a tribute to the sensationally imaginative work of the "imagineers" and artists who ...

posted 8:03:49am May. 22, 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.