Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shirley Temple, 1928-2014

My favorite Shirley Temple movies is "Bright Eyes", the story of an orphaned girl embroiled in a custody battle between her godfather and the head of the family her mother worked for before being killed in a car accident. I haven't watched it in years but the plot of the movie is seered into my brain.

I don't think there is anyone out there who doesn't like Shirley Temple. Despite what you think about child stars, Shirley Temple became the epitome of child stardom. When a child wants to become a star, they want to become as big as Shirley Temple was. When you look at Temple's movies, she is a natural. She genuinely seems to enjoy performing and entertaining people. When you see her, your face lights up and you just want to be around her. Despite the times her movies appeared in, the Great Depression, Temple's movies were always optimistic, upbeat and hopeful. In 1937, British film critic Graham Greene called Temple a "complete totsy" and said she was too nubile for a 9-year-old. Temple and 20th Century Fox sued for libel and won. The money awarded was left in a trust for Temple and she opened a youth center in England when she turned 21 with it.

In 1940, Temple starred in two consecutive flops, The Blue Bird and Young People. Her parents then bought out her contract and sent her to a school in Los Angeles. At the studio, her bungalow was renovated, every instances of her were removed and it was turned into an office building. But Temple shortly signed with MGM who hoped to cast her alongside Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney but that never came to fruition and in 1941, Temple and MGM parted ways amicably. Temple tried again with United Artists in 1942 but then threw herself into school and other activities until 1944 when she appeared in two movies from David O. Selsnick, who told her she was now typecast and that she should move, gain maturity as an actress and even change her name. In 1950, Temple failed to win the role of Peter Pan on Broadway and officially announced her retirement December 16th.

After films and dipping her toe into television, Shirley Temple, now Shirley Temple Black after marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950, became actively in politics. She ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat in California but when then appointed by Richard Nixon to the UN General Assembly. She then was appointed as an ambassador to Ghana (1974-1976 under President Ford) and Czechoslovakia (1989-1992 under President Bush).

Shirley Temple Black died at her home in Woodside, California. She was 85.

Until next time, I remain...