Shirley Jane Temple Black, the most popular child star in movie entertainment history, once classed herself with the Hollywood dog “Rin Tin Tin. At the end of the Depression, people were perhaps looking for something to cheer themselves up.”
“They fell in love with a dog and a little girl,” Black stated. “It won't happen again." While millions mourn her death this week, her family issued this statement to the Associated Press:
“We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.”
Shirley Temple was so overcome when her husband died in August 2005 from a bone marrow disease called myelodysplastic syndrome that she kept his voice on her answering machine for years to hear his voice.
“I don’t ever want to erase it,” she smiled.
Here are other little known facts about Shirley Temple:
- During the peak of her career in the mid-1930’s, one woman walked into Shirley’s father’s bank to make unusual offer to George Temple. The proposition was a “stud fee" to father "another Shirley" with her.
- George bought his daughter’s contract out from Educational Films for just $25 after they filed for bankruptcy. The company had only been paying her $10 for a two-year contract of 26 short films. Shirley endured two weeks of hard rehearsals without pay.
- For punishment of any misbehaving during the making of the Educational Films, Shirley was subjected several times to sitting on a box containing a large block off ice to “cool off.” Later, Shirley would describe some of these first films as "a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence”that” occasionally were racist or sexist."
- Shirley was born in Santa Monica, California on April 23, 1928, the third child of George and Gertrude Temple. Mrs. Temple, at one time wanted to be a ballerina, but was too tall according to local standards.
- By 1935 she was the world's top money-making star at number and remained number one at the box-office (beating out Clark Cable) for three more years. Hairstylists for these movies made certain there were 56 ringlets in her hair.
- Shirley lost to Judy Garland the role of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz in 1939 because Fox would not release her to MGM. Her movie career never fully recovered. The role she took for Fox was “The Blue Bird,” filmed in Technicolor. It was so bad it was taken off screens within two weeks of its opening.
- Shirley was first married at the age of 17 to a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps named John Agar. Agar, who later became an actor was a chronic drinker and womanizer. Court records indicate that on at least one occasion, Shirley ran from their house in terror because of his temper.
- Shirley became one of the first public figures to talk about her battle and survival of breast cancer. After discovering a lump in her left breast in 1972, she underwent mastectomy and later said she “reached up to feel the void.”
- “It was an amputation, and I faced it” she told the world and soon over 50,000 letters of encouragement and support were delivered to her from across the globe.