Saturday, April 23, 2011
Screen Gem Saturdays: Happy Birthday, Shirley Temple Black
Today is Shirley Temple Black's 82nd birthday. One of the crazier tales about her famous childhood as a film star is that her parents agreed to shave a year off her age to make her seem even more remarkably talented than she was. In 1934, at age 6 she was singing and dancing with the best of them; however, the public thought she was 5, which apparently made them love her even more for her precocious (and even somewhat saccharin) antics.
Here is a shot taken on what was actually Shirley's 12th birthday from April 23, 1940. However, in keeping with the age-changing antics of her parents and the studio, this was officially promoted as Shirley's 11th birthday. Behind Shirley with her hand on Shirley's shoulders is actress Charlotte Greenwood. Peering out from Greenwood's left shoulder is actress Arleen Whelan, who played the romantic lead in "Young People,” the film that was interupted from production for this festive occasion. Next to Whelan is Kathleen Howard, who played the villainess.
The snipe for this photos reads: “Interupting her work routine only long enough to share refereshments with her co-workers, Shirley Temple yesterday celebrated her eleventh birthday. Photo shows the group of friends and studio workers who helped Shirley with the cake and ice cream.”
In this detailed view, we can see actor George Montgomery (the other romantic lead) in the very back, and Shirley's mother in the foreground with the stylish hat on her head. Montgomery was married at one time to Dinah Shore.
Shirley's father was at the opposite end of the photo, and can be seen in this detailed shot, standing next to a different lady in a (somewhat) stylish hat.
It was April 1941 that Shirley would learn her true age, as she revealed in her autobiography, “Child Star”:
Mother took me aside. “You’re not really twelve,” she said, “you’re thirteen.”
“But yesterday I was eleven,” I rejoined. “What happened to twelve?”
She recounted the early Fox [the film studio] scheme to make me younger than I was, and revealed that my birth certificate had been altered. “I don’t want you entering your teens without knowing it,” she said.
Flash forward to 1963, and Shirley was doing a guest spot on the Red Skelton show.
Her 35th birthday was celebrated on the set with Skelton & his crew:
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