On This Day: Shirley Temple Appears in First Feature-Length Film ‘Stand Up & Cheer’ in 1934

by Katie Maloney

You probably all know that Shirley Temple was an international icon. But do you know her first movie dance scene that launched her career?

The adorable dimple-faced, curly-haired Shirley Temple became an internationally popular child star in the 1930s. For much of the decade, Temple was one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office attractions. She was best known for sentimental musicals and sensational tap dance routines. But how did Shirley Temple get her start? Her career began at the young age of three when her mother signed her up for dance lessons. Soon after, Temple appeared in Baby Burlesks, a series of one-reel comedies in which children were cast in adult roles. But it wasn’t until 1934 that Temple’s career really took off. That was the year she landed a starring role in the feature film, Stand Up and Cheer!

Stand Up and Cheer! is about President Franklin Roosevelt and an action he takes for the country. During the movie, Roosevelt appoints a theatrical producer as the new Secretary of Amusement in order to cheer up America during the Depression. And guess who’s tasked with cheering up the public? If you guessed Shirley Temple, you’re right! Temple plays Shirley Dugan, a little girl who performs alongside her single father. Shirley soared to fame after singing and performing a tap dance routine for the song “Baby Take a Bow” in the movie.

And while watching this tap dance, it’s pretty easy to see how Shirley Temple quickly became an international sensation.

Shirley Temple in Stand Up and Cheer!

Shirley Temple Taught Her Onscreen Dad How To Dance For Stand Up And Cheer!

We all know Shirley Temple could sing and dance. But did you know she could also teach? According to IMDB, producers of Stand Up and Cheer! felt it would be easier for Temple to perform the same dance routine she learned for her audition during the “Baby, Take a Bow” scene. Instead of teaching Temple a new dance, her co-star James Dunn had to learn the dance Temple already knew. So, Temple spent her first day on the set giving Dunn dance lessons.

Additionally, producers wanted to make the set as comfortable as possible for Temple. After all, she was just a little kid despite her larger-than-life talents. So, the producers agreed to allow Temple to wear one of her own dresses during the “Baby, Take a Bow” number. Her mother picked out her white organza dress with red polka dots and a full skirt. Full skirt dresses soon became Shirley Temple’s signature look.