Shirley Temple

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Shirley Temple (1928-2014) is arguably the most famous child actress in film history.

She was very popular during the desperate times of The Great Depression, but those viewing her films today are more likely to have a reaction of Tastes Like Diabetes due to Values Dissonance. The racism of The Littlest Rebel (Shirley's character is shown in blackface at one point) is also startling to a modern audience.

Temple's star guttered out as she entered her late teens and early twenties, and she finally left Hollywood. After marrying her second husband, Temple entered politics, serving terms as chief of protocol and the U.S. ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

For some reason, characters based off her tend to be Spoiled Brats. Careful not to confuse her with Darla Hood.


Shirley Temple provides examples of the following tropes:

Her admirers—middle-aged men and clergymen—respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.

    • Some of her earliest roles weren't quite as innocent -- the characters she played in the pre-Hays Code Baby Burlesks shorts like 1933's Polly Tix in Washington often left innocence far behind. In her autobiography Temple herself described her character in Polly Tix as "a strumpet on the payroll of the Nipple Trust and Anti-Castor Oil Lobby. Mine was the task of seducing a newly arrived bumpkin senator".
  • Pretty in Mink: She wore a white rabbit fur coat in one movie, and that's been the most common real fur choice for girls' coats since.
  • The Red Stapler: Set a lot of trends for girls, notably the hairstyle.
    • And the first name "Shirley", which was originally a boys' name (among others, the name is given to one of Anne of Green Gables' sons).
  • Regal Ringlets
  • She's All Grown Up: Her later films, like Since You Went Away, and The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. They weren't as successful as most people associate her with her childhood years rather than as a teenager.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Besides licensed products featuring Temple's likeness, her popularity had also spurred tons of unauthorised goods with her face on it, such as "an army of unlicensed dolls, clothing and oddities" and even cigars with her likeness printed on the bands. While she was in retrospect appalled by the "elusive commercial scoundrels" unfairly cashing in on her childhood fame, she concluded that it made no financial sense to go after all the counterfeiters considering the costs of litigation and the economy of the time. They did however go after a few high-profile cases, one of them being Ideal filing a $100,000 patent infringement suit against a certain Lenora Doll Company who manufactured Shirley-esque dolls without permission. Temple herself was named as a co-plaintiff befitting her celebrity status during the height of her popularity.
  1. Including Bright Eyes, the first movie written specifically with her in mind.