Shirley Temple was a leading movie star of 1930s
She represented "the epitome of childhood goodness and sentiment," said one observer
Fame was gigantic -- there were countless Shirley Temple products
After movie career, she had successful adult life as diplomat
President Franklin D. Roosevelt called her “Little Miss Miracle.”
Such was the power of Shirley Temple during the Great Depression, a dark time when millions were out of work and struggling to survive. Into their midst came a little girl in curls, whose films – such as “Little Miss Marker,” “Curly Top,” “Bright Eyes” and “Captain January” – allowed them to forget, if just for a little while.
“Shirley could make people believe, if only for 90 minutes, that there were no problems in the world,” said a fellow child star, Dickie Moore.
There had been child stars before Shirley Temple – Jackie Cooper and Jackie Coogan, to name two – and there is certainly no shortage of them now, with reality TV and child-targeted cable networks minting a perky new imp every six months. But with her sparkling personality, song-and-dance talent and sheer box-office power, there has likely been no equal in history.
“(She) represented, for many, the epitome of childhood goodness and sentiment, a beacon of hope for the future of America and the physical embodiment of the perfect child,” wrote a British sociologist, Jane Catherine O’Connor, in “The Cultural Significance of the Child Star.”