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April 23, 2020

Legendary Child Movie Star: 30 Adorable Vintage Photos of Shirley Temple When She Was a Child in the 1930s

Shirley Temple Black is widely regarded as an American heroine who devoted her career first to films and then to public service. The United States ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 until 1992, she is still remembered by millions of fans for her success as a child movie star in the 1930s.


Shirley Temple was born in Santa Monica, California, on April 23, 1928. The youngest of three children, her father was a bank teller, who later worked as his daughter's manager and financial advisor when she became famous. As a child Shirley Temple began to take dance steps almost as soon as she began to walk. Her mother began taking her to dancing classes when she was about three and a half years old. She also took her daughter on endless rounds of visits to agents, hoping to secure a show business career. The hard work soon paid off—little Shirley obtained a contract at a small film studio, and one of the great careers in film history began.

Shirley Temple’s first contract was with Educational Pictures Inc., for whom she worked in 1932 and 1933. She appeared in a short movie entitled Baby Burlesks, followed by a two-reeler, Frolics of Youth, that would lead to her being contracted by the Fox Film Corporation at a salary of $150 per week. The first full-length feature that she appeared in for Fox was Carolina (1934). It was another Fox release of that year that made her a star: Stand Up and Cheer. She appeared in eight other full-length films that year, including Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes. The first of these is especially notable because it was her first starring role. In 1934 the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded her with a special miniature Oscar “in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year, 1934.”

Through the rest of the decade Shirley Temple’s star soared. It was not only her adorable dimples and fifty-six corkscrew curls that would keep her at the top of the box office listings. She was a spectacularly talented child, able to sing and dance with style and genuine feeling. Gifted with perfect pitch, she was a legendary quick study who learned her lines and dance routines much faster than her older and more experienced costars.

Unfortunately, little of the built-up popularity would be Temple’s to claim by the time she was an adult. As she reports in her autobiography (a person's own life story), her father’s questionable management of her funds, coupled with both of her parents’ spending, enabled her to enjoy only a fraction of the immense fortune she had earned. By 1940 she had appeared in forty-three feature films and shorts, and an entire industry had sprung up with products celebrating the glories of Shirley Temple: dolls, dresses, coloring books, and other merchandise.

Shirley Temple died in February 2014 at age 85 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The condition was aggravated by the fact that she had been a lifelong smoker, a fact she hid from the public, supposedly not wanting to set a bad example for fans.


































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