Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Happy 85th Birthday, Shirley Temple Black!
Shirley Temple Black has crammed a lot of living into her 85 years: an actress, a singer, a dancer, a wife, a mother, AND a diplomat. Starting out in 1932 as the female lead in a series of extremely politically incorrect movie shorts called "Baby Burlesks," Shirley learned quickly how to steal a scene.
Her big breakthrough came in 1934 when she sang the hit song "Baby Take A Bow" in the otherwise forgettable Fox Film "Stand Up And Cheer." For a country weary from the Depression and on the brink of war, Shirley was a real shot in the arm.
It wasn't long before the talented tot was immortalized in the cement of Grauman's Chinese Theater's forecourt.
Her roles as a child star are still memorable, whether she was the goody-two-shoes counterpart to Jane Withers' brattiness...
or attempting to charm President Lincoln into pardoning her father...
or teaching a cripple how to walk...
Here she attempts to impress the judge and jury in a courtroom with her dance skills. Whatever it was, Shirley Temple put a smile on the face of this nation throughout the 1930's.
She began 1939 by handing out the Oscar(s) to Walt Disney for his achievement with "Snow White."
1939 also saw the release of her first all-Technicolor motion picture, "The Little Princess."
One year later, her super career faltered when "The Blue Bird" failed to register with the American public. Nobody wanted to see Shirley as a brat.
The 1940's saw a small resurgence in her career in a number of prestige pictures, such as "Since You Went Away" with Claudette Colbert and Jennifer Jones:
and "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.
Sadly though, her career ended before 1950 thanks to a number of duds that attempted to make money by using the marquee value of Shirley's name. "That Hagen Girl" with Ronald Reagan was one of the most laughable.
In the late 1950's, Shirley found new fame on television, presenting a series of classic fairy tales. She was a more than lovely hostess:
Some of the screenplays featured Shirley as well, including "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" with Boris Karloff:
One of my favorite (and oddest) photos of Shirley is this one of her from 1964 with The Beatles.
By the 1960's, Shirley gave up her acting career and became a politician, earning a newfound respect thanks to her commitment and hard work. She was also one of the first women to come forward and encourage others by sharing the story of her breast cancer experience. Besides her stints as a diplomat (in Ghana and Prague), Shirley still appeared in the public eye to share stories about her Hollywood days. Here she is in 1978 with Jane Withers:
In 1989 she made best-seller lists with the publication of her autobiography, "Child Star."
She has supposedly finished part two of her autobiography, detailing the rest of her life, but has yet to get it published. I can only imagine the stories she has tell about her days in Washington. Last photo for today shows Shirley with Liza Minnelli, Milton Berle, and Jack Haley, Jr. In the background on the right you can see Eva Marie Saint.
So raise your Shirley Temple in salute to Shirley Temple Black - Happy 85th to a true American Princess!
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