A Biography of Shirley Temple

Topics: Shirley Temple, Charles Alden Black, Ambassadors of the United States Pages: 6 (1748 words) Published: May 20, 2013


NAME: Shirley Temple
OCCUPATION: Film Actress (1932-1950); TV actress/entertainer (1958–1965); Public servant and Diplomat (1969–1992); BIRTH DATE: April 23, 1928 (Age: 85)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Santa Monica, California
EDUCATION: Tutors; Westlake School for Girls
ResidenceWoodside, California
AKA: Shirley Jane Temple; Shirley Temple Black
Nickname: Little Miss Miracle
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States of America


Shirley Jane Temple was born on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California. She is the daughter of Gertrude Amelia Temple (née Krieger), a homemaker and George Francis Temple, a bank employee. The family was of English, German and Dutch ancestry. She had two brothers, George Francis, Jr. and John Stanley. Mrs. Temple once had show business aspirations and frequently played the phonograph and attended dance recitals while she was pregnant. Eight months after she was born, young Shirley was regularly swaying to music in her crib and Mrs. Temple encouraged her infant daughter's singing, dancing and acting talents. In September 1931 she enrolled her in Meglin's Dance School in Los Angeles, California. She was discovered a few months later, when executives from a low-budget film company came by the dance studio. When Shirley was 3 years old, her father signed a contract on her behalf with Educational Pictures. Shirley began appearing in Baby Burlesques, short films which spoofed popular movies by remaking them with children. In her earliest films, Shirley performed remarkable impressions of such stars as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. While the cameras rolled, Shirley Temple's mother would be on the sidelines, encouraging her to "Sparkle!" To underwrite production costs at Educational Pictures, Shirley and her child co-stars modeled for breakfast cereals and other products. She was lent to Tower Productions for a small role in her first feature film Red-Haired Alibi in 1932 and in 1933, to Universal, Paramount and Warner Brothers for various bit parts. Her family was protective and her father became her agent and financial adviser.

The exposure from Baby Burlesques led her to a contract with the Fox Film Corporation. At age 5, in April 1934, she attained fame with a featured role in Stand Up and Cheer, starring Warner Baxter. This became Shirley's breakthrough film. Her charm was evident to Fox heads and she was promoted well before the film's release. Within months, she became the symbol of wholesome American family entertainment. Her salary was raised to $1,250 a week, and her mother's to $150 as coach and hairdresser. Shirley starred in several more films the same year, including Little Miss Marker and Baby Take A Bow. On December 28, 1934, Bright Eyes was released. It was the first feature film crafted specifically for Shirley's talents and the first in which her name appeared above the title. Her signature song "On the Good Ship Lollipop" was introduced in the film and sold 500,000 sheet music copies. The film demonstrated Shirley's ability to portray a multi-dimensional character and established a formula for her future roles as a lovable, parentless waif whose charm and sweetness mellow gruff older men. The next year, she broke racial barriers (at the time) by tap-dancing with the original Mr. Bojangles, Bill Robinson, in The Little Colonel. The young actress, singer and dancer with the 56 bouncing golden corkscrew curls and infectious optimism proved an overnight sensation and a top earner for the studio.

In February 1935, Shirley Temple became the first child star to be honored with a special Academy Award and miniature Juvenile Oscar for "Outstanding Personality of 1934” She added her foot and hand prints to the forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in February that year. Shirley Temple was the most famous...
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