Friday, October 24, 2014

Shirley Temple: How She Impacted My Life as a Young Child

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

I know that I'm dating myself here, but folks of my era grew up watching -- and loving -- Shirley Temple, the bubbly child actress famously known for her signature baby-doll curls. You can still find a rerun or two of movies in which she starred from time to time, and in them you can plainly see why she was considered a national treasure.

Watching Shirley Temple movies got me through a difficult stage of my childhood. I was skinny beyond belief, had bad skin, and wore braces. Yep, the struggle was real. Lol. I felt awkward around my peers and lacked self-confidence. When I watched one of her movies though I let my imagination take me back to a different time period and would lose myself in her singing and dance routines. I could see and hear myself singing "On a Good Ship Lollipop" and everything would be alright.

I loved Shirley Temple so much that for many years I insisted that my Mother style my hair just like hers for each Sunday service and especially on Easter.

For the few of you who might not have been as enmeshed in television movies as I was, Shirley Temple was born in 1928 and was the most famous and highest paid child star of her time with multiple movie credits on her resume. She reached the height of her acting career during the Great Depression and she was frequently used as an icon for positivity and hope during the challenges of that period.

Temple won an Academy award for her rendition of the aforementioned "On a Good Ship Lollipop" in the 1930s.

The young actress took on additional acting roles as a young adult, none of which were as popular as the roles which she played as a child.

Unlike many child stars, Temple went on to live a full and productive life. She later married and became known as Shirley Temple Black.

In an unforeseen twist, the actress entered politics later in her adulthood and was appointed a United States diplomat to the United Nations. Her career in public service stretched across a significant span of her life.

Temple was a natural dancer as a child and most of her movies showcased her singing and dancing abilities.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt nicknamed her "Little Miss Miracle," unofficially dubbing her as the country's primary morale booster during the Great Depression, even going so far as to say that as long as we had Shirley Temple that we would be all right.

Black died of natural causes on February 10, 2014 at the ripe old age of 85. She left an impressive legacy of achievements in both her personal and professional life to carry on her name.

For as long as I live I'll always remember how second only to reading her movies were the vehicle through which my imagination grew as I pretended that I was living the life of the many characters that she played.


*Photo: Michael L. Kaufmann via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/08/2014 (no longer published there).]