In honor of what would have been Shirly Temple’s 93rd birthday, we’re taking a look back at the Hollywood icon’s best moments. As one of the earliest child stars in Hollywood, Shirley Temple was known for her adorable acting, perfect pin curls, and lasting legacy on the film industry.
On April 23, 1928, a Santa Monica banker and a housewife welcomed a newborn baby girl named Shirley. She began her acting career at just three years old when she landed a contract with Educational Pictures and made her acting debut in a string of movies dubbed “Baby Burlesques.”
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Later, when she was six years old, she appeared in her first Hollywood feature film, Carolina. Afterward, Temple made an additional eight films, including Little Miss Marker. The rising star, with her golden corkscrew curls and infectious smile, was quickly on her way to becoming America’s most cherished child star.
Even a former president took a liking to Temple. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dubbed Temple “Little Miss Miracle” for raising the public’s morale during the Great Depression. He even added, “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.”
At just six years old, Temple won her first Academy Award for her iconic song-and-dance routine set to “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in Bright Eyes. In 1934, she won the award for “Outstanding Personality of 1934.” By the time she was 12 years old, she had starred in 43 films.
In addition to being remembered for her dimples and positive demeanor, one of her most beloved scenes was that with the iconic tap dancer of the era, Bojangles. After her success with Bright Eyes, she starred in the 1935 film The Little Colonel. In one of her most well-known singing and dancing performances, Temple and dance legend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson share a dance number that’s one for the ages. Even off-camera, the two were very close, with Temple often referring to him as Uncle Billy.
In 1935, she also gave us her cherished rendition of “Animal Crackers in My Soup” from the film Curly Top. This film was the first of four films that Shirley Temple and Arthur Treacher appeared in together. The others were 1936’s Stowaway, 1937’s Heidi, and 1939’s The Little Princess.
Shirley Temple’s Child Star Career Comes to a Close
After her successful run in the 1930s, she stopped landing as many roles. However, she appeared in The Blue Bird in 1940, which lacked commercial success at the box office. At age 19, she co-starred alongside Cary Grant in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer. Although the film received high marks from the critics, Americans struggled to see Shirley Temple visibly growing up.
Sadly, as Temple got older, she found it harder to land roles. During the 1950s and early ’60s, she booked a few appearances on the small screen, but her role on the silver screen appeared to be over. After a whirlwind of a career, Temple died on February 10, 2014, in San Francisco, California, at 85 years old. Her death certificate cited the cause of her death as pneumonia and COPD.
Following her death, Temple’s family issued a statement that read: “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 of 55 years.”