I grew up watching old Shirley Temple movies on TV, and so did my girls. When my oldest daughter was in first grade, she was given a Thanksgiving assignment to write a story about a Turkey using a real or fictional character. Of course she chose Shirley Temple Turkey, and made the story about her travails getting ready for the big Turkey Show at Thanksgiving. It was the cutest thing, ever.
A couple of years ago, I had an argument with a friend about Shirley Temple. I was talking about how she had been such an extraordinary talent – and there would never be another child star like her. She had it all: looks, talent, personality. She could sing, she could dance – but most of all she had enough charm and charisma to be the nation’s top star from 1935 to 1939. She was bigger than Clark Gable and Greta Garbo combined. She was the “it girl.”
She went on to star in a few more movies as a young adult, but eventually quit showbiz and became active in Republican politics (another reason to love her.) She represented the country well as the Ambassador to Ghana, and later Czechoslovakia.
But I was talking about her life in the past tense – sad that she was no longer with us…
“But she’s still alive,” my friend said.
“No, she isn’t, I replied. “She died years ago. I remember – it made me sad…”
“No, I’m pretty sure she’s still alive,” he insisted, whipping out his iPhone to look it up.
Damn if he wasn’t right. And I was glad he was right. It was nice to know that the world still had Shirley Temple in it.
Alas, news came out today, that the great Hollywood icon breathed her last Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85.
Rest in peace, dear Shirley. Truly, there will never be another one like you.
Here she is singing and dancing in one of her earliest flicks, 1934’s “Baby Take a Bow.” She would have been just 5 or 6, here.