Little Miss Marker (1934)
I never was a fan of Shirley Temple, far from it. I do recall seeing most of her movies years ago. Back in the Sixties Channel 11, in St. Louis, used to have a Shirley Temple Theater on weekend afternoons. My sister Judy, for some reason, had to watch those Shirley Temple films. So I can recall seeing Bright Eyes, the Little Colonel, Heidi, Little Miss Marker and what have you.
To say I was not impressed would be a major understatement. Even as a young kid I realized there was a strict formula to Shirley’s movies, namely her sunny disposition and optimistic outlook would win over cranky old adults and straighten out bratty little kids, who were usually the villains, in her films, and that was about all.
I do recognize and respect Shirley Temple’s place in film history. She was the biggest star
From the age of six to ten Shirley Temple was once one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. While the rest of the nation was mired in the Great Depression Shirley Temple sang and danced her way through it in films such as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Marker, Heidi and The Little Princess.
Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California, the third and youngest child (and only girl) of George Francis Temple, a bank teller, and Gertrude Krieger, a supremely willful stage mother (Temple dedicated her autobiography to her). Her parents noticed an innate sense of rhythm and extroverted presence as early as eight months in Shirley. She was put in acting classes by the age of three and was starring in a series of cloying shorts in 1932 and ’33, as well as assaying bit parts in larger films.
It was her performance of “Baby Takes a Bow” in 1934’s Stand Up and Cheer, a film that debuted in May, that thrust her into prominence. She was obviously a natural in front of the camera with a wide range of talent. She could sing. She could dance. She could act. Fox signed her on and, by the end of the same year, which also held the hits Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes (where she famously sang “On the Good Ship Lollipop”) and several other roles, Shirley Temple was a star. A mere nine months after Stand Up and Cheer hit screens, in February of 1935, she received a special “Juvenile Award” at the Oscars “in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934.”
For the next few years the public couldn’t get enough of her. Exhibitors named her the top box-office attraction of 1935 (when she sang “Animal Crackers” in Curly Top) - 1938. A non-alcoholic drink was named after her (a mixture of ginger ale and grenadine) and a cottage industry sprang up around her likeness including dolls, coloring books, and dress lines. She tapped alongside Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, in The Littlest Rebel, starred in John Ford’s Wee Willie Winkie and several Allan Dwan films, Heidi and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Graham Greene’s review of Winkie, where he accused Temple of being an adult impersonating a child, and where he impugned the motives for older men’s attraction to her, caused such an uproar that Night and Day, the magazine in which the review was published, shortly thereafter was bankrupted and folded.)
Temple was the natural pick to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz but Fox wouldn’t loan its star out so Judy Garland got the role. It was a turning point in both their careers.
As she matured, Hollywood and the audience, now veterans of World War II, and seemingly unable to reconcile the fact that the cherubic star had become a comely young woman, looked elsewhere. Temple was no longer the compliant child but a willful ingénue. After two flops she canceled her contract with Fox and moved over to MGM but fared no better there.
At 17 she wed fellow actor John Agar but the marriage fell apart five years later. Temple, now divorced with a child, lost her interest in movie-making. The audience too moved on. She became a cautionary tale in many circles, an example of the loose morals and bad ends destined for Hollywood types. Her talent agency, MCA, unceremoniously dropped her and Temple’s meteoric career was over. She wasn’t yet 21.
Later life included several quickly-canceled variety shows but she attained a second act as a public figure and politician, even running for office in the vacant Republican seat in her congressional district. In 1968 President Richard Nixon appointed her as the US representative at the United Nations and she became an ambassador to Ghana from 1974-1976. She later also held the post of US Chief of protocol and ambassador to Czechoslovakia (appointed by President George H.W. Bush).
Shortly after her divorce from Agar Shirley Temple met and married Charles Black, a TV executive. They were married for 55 years, until his death, and had two children together.
Temple's career exploded at the sage old age of 5, when she appeared in a string of massively successful hits for 20th Century Fox in 1934, including Little Miss Marker, Baby Take a Bow, and Bright Eyes. So fast and so complete was her success, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created a brand new award that year just so that she could receive it, the non-competitive Special Oscar for best juvenile performance. She appeared in a shocking number of films throughout the 1930s, dominating the box office and generally making everybody much less depressed that there was a Depression on. Her career continued strongly until 1949, with the actress still appearing in classics like The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and John Ford
Even during some of the roughest financial times this country has ever seen, little Shirley Temple was able to put smiles on moviegoers’ faces with her trademark head of of 56 curls and those silver-bullet dimples.
Even during some of the roughest financial times this country has ever seen, little Shirley Temple was able to put smiles on moviegoers faces. Before every big scene, her mother would tell her,
A statement from her family provided to news organizations said she died at home in Woodside, Calif., of natural causes. “She was surrounded by her family and caregivers,” the BBC quoted the statement as saying. “We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and… our beloved mother, grandmother [and] great-grandmother.”
A string of non-stop hits starting with “Little Miss Marker” in 1934 and continuing with such films as “Captain January,” “Poor Little Rich Girl” and “Wee Willie Winkie” captured Depression-era America’s heart, keeping the troubled 20th Century Fox solvent.
The dimpled, blonde, curly-headed Temple was the nation’s top box office attraction from 1935-38 and one of the nation’s top wage earners. Reflecting the extent of her popularity, she
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