Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Farewell, Shirley Temple

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.

Shirley Temple (1928-2014)


  1. This is an adorable photo. It looks completely natural.

    This has been a sad few days...

  2. I discovered her in my teenage years and from the lofty maturity of fifteen her juvenile films always seemed too childish and twee. I've since developed a greater appreciation for her early talents but never quite to the point of loving her or her child work. My loss, I suppose.

    But I love the heck out of her late Forties work! She goes toe-to-toe with the heavyweights in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and is wonderful in Since You Went Away. I've also seen her do delightful work in a piece of postwar comic nonsense called Honeymoon; she really had the chops to make it as an actress in light comedy. It's too bad she didn't manage to keep working past the late Forties, and you have to wonder if her childhood success didn't have something to do with that. Could it be that audiences who were used to her "Awwww... cuteness had a hard time adjusting to her more adult appeal? I mean, the ick-factor of finding little Curly Top sexually attractive? Yeah, that.

    I should add, though, that it's also probably good for her memory that Pete McCloskey beat her for the 11th Congressional District in 1967.

    She ran to his right - she was a pretty conservative Republican for the middle Sixties (not that she'd be considered "conservative" today, mind you) and so we remember the child star, the promising young actress, and the gracious apolitical hostess and not a more divisive conservative Congresswoman in the Nixon (and possibly the Reagan) Era.

    My favorite story about her?

    Anne Edwards' biography says that when she was invited to the White House in 1935 she shot Eleanor Roosevelt in the ass: "Temple and her parents traveled to Washington, D.C., late in 1935 to meet President Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor. The presidential couple invited the Temple family to a cook-out at their home in Hyde Park, New York, where Eleanor, bending over an outdoor grill, was hit smartly in the rear with a pebble from the slingshot Temple carried everywhere in her little lace purse." (Edwards, p. 81)

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comments, FDChief. I've heard the speculation about why Temple's career didn't take off as an adult and I agree with you that it has nothing to do with her looks, acting, or diminished charm. She's sweet and lively in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and utterly holds her own.

      Like you, I haven't developed a huge love for her early films (more because I haven't seen most of them, I think Heidi is the only one I have clear memories of). But I love how she was able to take all that overwhelming attention and adoration, shake it all off, and build a new life for herself. Child actors and pop stars should all be given a copy of her biography with the reminder, "This isn't all there is. You can do more. You can move past this. You have choices. This girl was more famous than you can ever dream of being and she did it."