Shirley Temple reported dead

Shirley Temple reported dead

Shirley Temple defined the term “child star”.

She did it not by separating the two concepts, but by integrating them.

There is no question that the singing/dancing/acting Shirley Temple was a star. At the height of her popularity, there was Shirley Temple merchandise galore. In the 1930s, she headlined popular movies, including Curly Top, The Little Colonel, and Heidi.

In all of these, her appeal included how much the quintessential child she was. She smiled, she cried, she questioned…movie audiences didn’t love her because she was a kid who could do things beyond her years, as we often see now. She was acting her age, albeit in a remarkably talented way.

Although she already had twenty movie credits by that time, I associate her earliest work with Stand Up and Cheer. It’s arguably speculative fiction, with the President creating a “Secretary of Amusement” position to get the country back into a good mood after the depression (for economic reasons, in part). Shirley is one of the successes of the fictional program: adorable entertainment as economic engine.

As an adult, she would again be involved with politics. She ran for Congress against Pete McCloskey, one of my sibling’s godparents. She did  ambassadorial  work, including as the ambassador to Ghana.

Shirley Temple had a few geek-friendly roles, but missed out on one of the biggest: studio politics kept her out of starring in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie.

Geek-friendly credits include:

  • The Blue Bird, which was a big-budget fantasy the year after The Wizard of Oz
  • Shirley Temple’s Storybook, a TV series which she hosted and in several episodes, appeared…including playing Ozma in a Land of Oz adaptation, and the Little Mermaid

Good-bye, Shirley Temple…the world is less lovably child-like without you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

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