Shirley Temple, a beloved child star, made 29 films by age 10, but her life was challenging. She worked long hours, faced death threats and inappropriate advances, and retired at 22 with only $40,000 despite earning millions. Shirley humorously noted she stopped believing in Santa Claus at six when he asked for her autograph.

Shirley Temple’s Early Life and Career
Starting dance lessons at 3, Shirley appeared in Baby Burlesks, short films she later criticized for exploiting children’s innocence. On set, misbehaving led to sitting on a block of ice in a locked booth, teaching her the value of time and money.

At 6, Shirley became famous for singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in Bright Eyes. Her son, Charles Black Jr., credited her films’ charm and family values for their popularity. Her mother, Gertrude, was very protective, restricting Shirley’s playmates to avoid illness and maintain social standards.

Studio parties for Shirley’s April 23 birthday were publicity stunts, with most gifts going to charity. After the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping, Shirley received death threats, leading her parents to enhance security and her father to carry a gun.

Challenges and Resilience
A frightening incident in 1939 involved a woman aiming a handgun at Shirley during a promotion for The Blue Bird, believing Shirley had stolen her daughter’s soul. Thankfully, the woman was subdued.

Despite her success, Shirley was let go by Fox Studios in 1941 due to declining ticket sales. MGM picked up her contract but exposed her to inappropriate behavior from producer Arthur Freed. Earning $10,000 a week at her peak, Shirley retired with only $40,000 due to her father’s poor investments. Shirley didn’t blame him, believing he was badly advised.

Shirley’s resilience shone through. Her second marriage to Charles Black was happy, and she had a successful second career as an American diplomat. Reflecting on her life, Shirley said, “I’ve led three lives: acting, wife and mother, and international relations. I’m proud of all three careers.”

Leave A Reply