America’s Favorite Little Darling: The Story of Shirley Temple

| | January 15, 2024

Shirley Jane Temple is who people called America’s favorite little darling. It was for good reason too. Shirley Temple was an outstanding little girl while growing up and dealing with family, co-workers, and directors.

She was born on April 23, 1928 and died recently on February 10, 2014 at the ripe, old age of 85. The actress’s early life was full of adventure and success, and it started at a very early age of four in Santa Monte, California.

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Shirley Temple’s parents were George and Gertrude Temple. Gertrude was a big help and supporter of her daughter. Every single film that Shirley partook in, her mother would do her daughter’s hair, and each time, Shirley had exactly 56 curls in her hair.

Photography helped to spread the word of Shirley Temple, the picture above is a professional one taken for fame purposes (“Beautiful Women” 3). She won an Oscar at the young age of 6 years in 1937. As a child, her idol was Bill Robinson, which she got a chance to perform with when she was older.

John Agar was Shirley’s first husband at 17 years old. Her first daughter was Linda Susan Agar. Five years after their marriage, John Agar and Shirley Temple divorced. After almost a decade, Shirley remarried to Charles Black.

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Shirley’s next two children with Charles were Lori Black and Charles Alden Black Jr., but all three children were siblings just the same. Later on, Charles Black Sr. died after the birth of his children due to bone marrow failure. Shirley Temple grew up to become a standard, everyday American from the little girl star to the below picture at 17 years old (“Five Kid Stars who Ended up Totally Normal” 2).

As an adult, one of Shirley Temple’s later jobs was to be ambassador of Ghana and Czechoslovakia. In December 1998, Temple’s lifetime accomplishments were celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors, held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in year of 2005. Later on, she lost her curls and became a mother and grandmother as shown in the picture below (“Shirley Temple, iconic child star, died at 85” 1).

The little girl participated in 44 films before the she was 12 years old. Throughout her lifetime, she performed in 57 films altogether. Two particular films included Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Beauty and the Beast. Shirley Temple was able to sing, dance, and act all at the early age of three years old.

In the film industry, Shirley got to audition for many roles. One specific occurrence in which she auditioned for a role she didn’t get was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Coming to a decision that her voice range was limited for the role of Dorothy, the directors decided to go with Judy Garland, their original first choice.

On another occasion, Shirley Temple auditioned for Our Gang, but sadly the director and Shirley’s mother disagreed on letting the new star receive a star billing, a contract/agreement with the star to decide the price of her role to send the bill, so she did not get in.

Temple preferred to do her own stunts, arguing that the hard work made her feel like “one of the gang.” Like many young stars, Temple learned early to rely on herself. In her first films, she was banished to a black box if she behaved childishly at only four years old.

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Rather than becoming petulant and rebellious, Temple later wrote that this “lesson of life was profound and unforgettable.” Encouraged to be wise beyond her years, mouthing adult lines and thrust into grown-up situations, Shirley Temple cherished being a child and never stopped growing younger than she really was.

Some of Shirley’s most famous quotes were; “I wanted to be in the FBI. I also wanted to be a pie salesman. It was so intense that the studio got the prop department to make a little pie wagon, and they filled it with tarts. I wheeled it around the set and sold them to the crew. I was about eight years old, I always sold out and I didn’t have to pay for them. It was a great deal!” also; “When I was 14, I was the oldest I ever was. I’ve been getting younger ever since,” and; “Make-believe colors the past with innocent distortion, and it swirls ahead of us in a thousand ways: in science, in politics, in every bold intention.” These quotes tell just how quickly the little girl grew up and how she went about her day in the acting business.

Shirley temple was a witty and funny character from the start. She was a sly and cunning little girl. Many instances took place where she used this sense of cleverness. “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”

Other instances came to light when she got older. “Dr. Kissinger was a former child. Jerry Ford was a former child. Even F.D.R. was a former child. I retired from the movies in 1949, and I’m still a former child.”

She kept children singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” for generations. Carina, Avery Gleason, Sophia Lucia, and June Winters have all performed it on YouTube in the last ten years (“Lollipop Dance” 5). Since the acting, Shirley self-taught herself to cry on cue;” I guess I was an early method actress.

I would go to a quiet part of the sound stage with my mother. I wouldn’t think of anything sad, I would just make my mind a blank. In a minute I could cry.

I didn’t like to cry after lunch, because I was too content.” Crying did come in handy at age 21: “Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu in a red convertible, she was stopped for speeding. She turned on the tears, and the officers ended up escorting her home. She retired from acting at age 21 and went on to a diplomatic career.”

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The legacy of Shirley Temple is one to always be remembered. She was a positive and cheerful little girl. Being kind and helpful to almost everyone she met was a repeated attribute told by relatives and close co-actors. She even had a cocktail drink, the Shirley Temple, named in her honor. As a result of her great success, Shirley Temple will always be remembered as America’s favorite little darling.

Dayna Bergman

Works Cited

“Shirley Temple Biography.” IMDb. IMDb, Web.

“Shirley Temple Movies.” Angelfire. Angelfire, Inc. Web.

“Shirley Temple.” Xplore Inc, 2014. 8 December 2014.

“Ten Fun Facts about Shirley Temple.”Entertainment News. Epoch Times, Inc. Web.

Churchill, Bonnie. “Biography.” Shirley Temple Biography. People Magazine. Web.

“Shirley Temple’s 10 Most Memorable Quotes.”Rediff Movies. Rediff, Inc. Web.

“Five Kid Stars Who Ended up Totally Normal.” All Chic. All Chic, Inc. Web.

“Shirley Temple, Iconic Child Star, Dies at 85.”WDRB. Web.

“Photography.” White Pride World Wide. Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Web.

“On the Good Ship Lollipop.” YouTube. YouTube. Web.

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