Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Temple Tuesday: The Rarest Role of All

If you’ve seen enough of Shirley Temple’s childhood films, you’ll note that there’s a very distinctive trend: get rid of Mama! Disney wasn’t the only one in the 1930’s that left their heroine motherless. This allowed Shirley to play matchmaker and fix her father up with somebody else. If she was an orphan and both parents were gone, Shirley could then find great wealth by being adopted into a rich family. This provided the dream situation for money-challenged Depression audiences. Overall, if you were an actress in the 1930’s and wanted a lot of screen time, you DID NOT want to be cast as Shirley’s birth mother! Today’s post will go movie by movie and spell out Shirley’s maternal situation. WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS!!

Little Miss Marker: Mama is already gone

Baby Take a Bow: She’s ALIVE and played by Claire Trevor.

Now and Forever:
Dead on arrival!

Bright Eyes: Played by Lois Wilson, she is run over by a car 30 minutes into the movie.


The Little Colonel: She’s ALIVE and played by Evelyn Venable.

Our Little Girl:
She’s ALIVE and played by Rosemary Ames.

Curly Top: Dead on arrival!

The Littlest Rebel: Dies about three-quarters of the way through the movie.

1936: The WORST year to be a Shirley birth mother: zero for zero!

Captain January, Poor Little Rich Girl, Dimples, and Stowaway: Dead on arrival!


Wee Willie Winkie: She’s ALIVE and played by June Lang.

Heidi: Dead on arrival!

1938: Another year of zero for zero, Shirley is busy playing matchmaker!

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner: Dead on arrival!

1939: You guessed it: zero for zero!

The Little Princess and Susannah of the Mounties: Dead on arrival!


The Blue Bird: After 3 years, Shirley finally gets a mother: Spring Byington!

Young People: Orphaned but quickly adopted!

Moving into the teen years, Shirley is found motherless again.


Kathleen: Dead on arrival!


Miss Annie Rooney:
Dead on arrival!

What's the final tally? 5 out of 23 Shirley movies listed here allowed the birth mother to live through the entire movie. Yikes! Claire Trevor, Evelyn Venable, Rosemary Ames, June Lang, and Spring Byington are the lucky five. Today, Oscar winner Claire Trevor is probably the only one that audiences would remember, with Oscar nominee Spring Byington a distant second.

Enjoy the New Year’s Eve festivities, but please play safely! See you in 2020!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Disney on Display

The featured gallery exhibit during my recent visit to the Brandywine River Museum was titled “Cinderella & Co.—Three Fairy Tales Reimagined.” Exclusive to the Brandywine River Museum, it is an examination of illustrations for three fairy tales: Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and The Three Little Pigs. It was one of those serendipitous occasions where I found an unexpected Disney connection!

Three pieces of art from Disney’s 1933 classic “Three Little Pigs” were on display, including this original cel:

a graphite study on paper:

and a cel with the watercolor background:

Storyboard art from Disney’s “Cinderella,” 1950:

Two pieces of Mary Blair concept art for “Cinderella”:

Most of the modern interpretations of the classic fairy tales were not to my taste; however, this 2013 illustration by Steven Guarnaccia was definitely an exception!

Also on display were an original Beatrix Potter illustration for Cinderella:

and a 1938 interpretation by Leonard Weisgard:

Better hurry if you want to catch it; this fantastic exhibit closes Sunday, January 5!

See more Brandywine River Museum photos at my main website.

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Pioneer Hotel at Disneyland!

While it was not photographed as much as the nearby El Dorado hotel, Disneyland’s Pioneer hotel was a formidable contender for visitors to Rainbow Ridge! The sign says “Nice Beds,” but are the sheets free? Or do they charge like the El Dorado? Inquiring minds need to know! Right next door you can eat at the Horse Shoe Cafe.

Another shot from my collection from June 1960; this one gives an overhead of view of this stretch of Rainbow Ridge and the El Dorado.

This section of buildings would disappear to make way for Big Thunder Mountain. In fact, they are in the approximate location of where the actual mountain was built.

What? Can it be? THREE hotels in Rainbow Ridge? Looks like it! The Rainbow Ridge hotel really got the shaft when it came to location. Tucked away in a back corner. They probably didn't even have sheets.

This previously posted shot of Rainbow Ridge and the Pioneer Hotel is from the 1950s:

Through the miracle of Photoshop, I stitched the previous shot in that batch of slides and got a semi-decent panorama view of the area, Matterhorn and all:

And in case you haven’t had enough Rainbow Ridge…here’s one of the Pioneer Hotel under re-construction when Nature’s Wonderland got a major renovation in 1960. Could they define “reasonable”?

See more vintage Disneyland Nature's Wonderland photos at my main website.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Back Side of the Castle

Most people post shots of the front of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

This image is from June 1962 and shows the courtyard at the back of the castle. A few things to note; see the entrance to the Sleeping Beauty Diorama on the right? Probably not, as the sign above the door is completely blank.

Compare to this January 1961 image. Maybe it was in the process of being re-painted.

Here’s the same setting circa 2011:

You’ll note the addition of the small Sleeping Beauty and Prince statue, which was not there back in 1962.

The shop in the Castle was called Sleeping Beauty Arts and Crafts.

See more Disneyland Sleeping Beauty photos at my main website.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Brandywine Christmas

My grandmother introduced the family to the Brandywine River museum, which holds a large collection of art by the Wyeth family, from N.C. to Jamie. It was love at first sight. The museum was one of my first experiences with adaptive reuse; built as a gristmill in 1864, it had been creatively adapted into a gallery space.

One of the highlights of my childhood was the annual visit to the museum to see their Christmas displays, including the Christmas trees in the lobby and an entire room of model trains.

This year marked my first visit at the holidays in eight years; it was good to be back!

The trees in the lobby area aren’t your plain run-of-the-mill (intentional pun) Christmas trees. All of the ornaments are made of natural materials.

Each tree this year had a theme, and I marveled over the creative ornaments that hung on each bough.

“How about an apple, dearie?”

The model train layout gets better every year; I could spend days looking at the individual tableaus and watching the trains go by. One of these days I'll get my model train set going again! Note the smoke coming out of the smoke stacks!

N.C. Wyeth lives again:

A carnival:

It looks like aliens have invaded the layout!

The projection of Santa and his reindeer was a favorite part; they were able to use the art of N.C. in the portrait of Santa.

For all those that celebrate, I hope you have a very merry Christmas!

See more Brandywine River Museum photos at my main website.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Temple Tuesday: Shirley’s Narrow Escape!

Eighty years ago, Shirley Temple narrowly escaped an attempt on her life when she appeared on radio for the very first time. December 24, 1939, Nelson Eddy was the host and narrator for the Screen Guild presentation of “The Blue Bird.” As Shirley recalled the incident in her autobiography “Child Star”:

“In a rare exception to Mother’s policy, I was permitted to appear on a Christmas Eve benefit radio broadcast of the Screen Guild Theatre, featuring me in a half-hour dramatic except from the film and a ‘Silent Night’ due with Nelson Eddy. An untimely sore throat worried me a little, but I knew Eddy could carry me if my voice weakened. My upstairs theatre dressing room faced directly onto a parking lot. Standing at the window I looked out while Mother fussed around with the back of my hair, and I saw a scruffily dressed woman carrying a large handbag come along below, peering up into each window as if searching. When she saw me, her face lit up with recognition. Scowling, she raised her fist and shouted something unintelligible. “What is she doing?” I asked Mother, who simply dropped the venetian blind, and urged me to concentrate on my lines. As a general precaution, however, she reported the odd event to a theatre official. Jumpy about possible public disturbance, he in turn passed the word to local police, who upgraded the incident to a possible kidnapping and involved the local FBI.”

Midway through Shirley’s performance of “Someday You'll Find Your Bluebird,” she looked into the audience and saw the same woman, seated in the front row.

“Slowly the woman rose, like one transfixed, raising her gun until it pointed directly at me. [Two security men] had spotted the woman, and both came crowding and stumbling past the extended legs of seated patrons...I just shrank down behind my microphone, my voice locked on another ‘oo-oo-oo.’ Why the woman did not pull the trigger before being roughly seized by the two men is hers to answer and mine to bless. Disarmed and lifted bodily, she made no sound audible over the orchestra music, nor did the orchestra leader, his back to the disturbance, miss a beat...Next day an FBI agent called. The woman’s gun had been loaded and she had indeed intended to kill me, for stealing her daughter’s soul. Several hours before my birth, she had borne a girl, and at the very hour of my birth, her baby had died. My soul was in fact her daughter’s, she claimed. To avenge the theft, she had set out to kill my body. Although the tale seemed understandable to me, Mother would have known its crucial fallacy. My birthday the woman was using was 1929, the one fabricated long before by Winfield Sheehan [of Fox studio]. In truth it was by one year, so somebody else had stolen the soul.”

At the end of the show, Nelson and Shirley sang a duet of “Silent Night.” Smiling for the cameras, they hugged each other, masking the very serious incident that had occurred just moments before. Shirley’s parting words to the radio audience held more meaning than any of the listeners that night could have been aware of: “This has been a very exciting Christmas Eve for me!”

As the saying goes, the show must go on!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.