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Shirley Temple: The Biggest Child Movie Star

At a time when Americans were weathering the tail-end of the Great Depression, child actress Shirley Temple Black was an unparalleled sensation. People not only flocked to her movies and bought Shirley Temple dolls, they also dressed their daughters in dresses and coats modeled after those she wore in the movie Dimples. “Every girl 3 to 14 will want them,” proclaimed a 1936 newspaper advertisement for a line of official “Inspired by Shirley Temple” outfits.

Remembering Shirley TempleThe film credits of Shirley Temple, who passed away on Feb. 10 at age 85  in Woodside, Calif., included Bright Eyes (1934), The Littlest Rebel (1935) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938). According to the New York Times, Black was bigger at the box-office than Clark Gable and got more mail than Greta Garbo. Black resonated in popular culture so thoroughly that surrealist Salvador Dali once did a painting of her, and she appears three times in the crowd on the cover of the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. For decades, it was a measure of promise for budding child actresss – from Hayley Mills to Dakota Fanning – if Hollywood columnists referred to them as “the next Shirley Temple.” None turned out to be.

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Here are some things to remember about this Hollywood icon.



Here’s a video clip of Black receiving an award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2006. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDHgg1GUNlo


Photo: AF Archive/Alamy


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