Shirley Temple: Like The Beatles, She Hit At Just The Right Time

Author: Bill Dudley

Although Shirley Temple movies were made some 30 years before my time, I still feel a strong personal connection to her. In a remarkable career that included singing, dancing and acting, the curly haired tyke from Santa Monica started making films when she was 3, and retired at 21. Shirley Temple had the good timing of ‘The Beatles.’ Both arrived on the scene after or during a great American tragedy. The Beatles helped heal the country after the Kennedy assassination, Shirley guided our ancestors thru The Great Depression.

I have a wonderful memory of meeting (the adult) Shirley Temple in the mid 1960’s. I grew up in the SF Bay area, where Shirley Temple also lived and thanks to local television, was still very popular, over 30 years after her original success. I attended a private school in Palo Alto. The buzz was that Shirley Temple’s son Charles Black, Jr. was rumored to start attending, and Shirley just may drop him off on the first day of school. The rumors were true. Several of us crazy kids awaited her arrival at the gate, and I personally gave Shirley a tour of the campus. I saw her several other times over the next few years, but we never spoke again. That was my big day.

Shirley was becoming active in politics at the time, and eventually became a well known diplomat, as Ambassador to Ghana, and Czechoslovakia. She lost a Congressional race, primarily because she favored the Vietnam War. Shirley was the first child star to become a millionaire. Her 56 curls netted her $4 million by the time she was 12, which was when her career peaked. Shirley was so popular in the 1930’s that she was given a special miniature Oscar, made just for her. Cocktail bars also concocted a non-alcoholic ‘Shirley Temple’ beverage for kids, that  is still served today. I may have one of those this afternoon, with a twist of lemon, and maybe a shot of Vodka to honor her. Shirley does have a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame, but unfortunately it is currently in storage, due to development. True Shirley Temple fans can visit her footprints at The Chinese Theater to pay their  respects.

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