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Shirley Temple and Girls in the 1930s: Enjoy the Show!

I am very sorry at Shirley Temple’s passing.

She was an integral part of my childhood.  Beaming to New Jersey, the minor New York stations would show “old movies” (in black and white!) on the weekends.  Many a time I saw Shirley singing, dancing, and cheering people up — during the Great Depression and in my own time too.

This is one of my favorite songs from Curly Top (1935). It’s called “Animal Crackers in My Soup.”

Here she is breaking down racial barriers with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in 1935.  Be sure to read about his life-what an amazing man!

Like Shirley, I had curly hair–though mine was dark.  And I couldn’t tap dance.

She sure could!  She here with Bill Robinson again in 1938 in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

And my singing voice is none too true (just ask my kids!). But she had a super voice.  Listen in to her in Bright Eyes from 1934.

But I did identify with her since I have a pretty sunny disposition.

Here’s a lovely film from 1935.  You can watch the entire movie:  Our Little Girl from 1935.

What a talent she was!  And then to grow up and become a diplomat –to remake herself as it were– deserves our respect and admiration just as she showed respect to performers like the amazing Bill Bojangles Robinson here in The Little Colonel (1935).  National Tap Dance Day is named for him!

She was important to girls in the 1930s–and to everyone!  Joan mentions her in her writings–though not as you might expect.  One joy in rediscovering my mother’s diaries was seeing how she was simply a girl.  You don’t often encounter your own mother as a girl, but I had the privilege to.

Shirley shows up in some pages of her diary.  But not where Joan emotes about crushes, or complains about her parents, or wonders at the universe.  Shirley shows up when Joan is playing hangman, that venerable custom for old and young.  Joan wrote this Monday October 10, 1938 when she was 15.

Hangman:  Shirley Temple, Tyrone Power, and Mickey Rooney.

Hangman: Shirley Temple, Tyrone Power, and Mickey Rooney.  You can read about another hangman game here.

It shows how important movie stars were to kids, just like pop stars are today (please don’t ask me about One Direction–I hear them plenty in my house!).  Tyrone Power, dark and dreamy, and Mickey Rooney, the safe kid one who love as a pal, also show up on this page.

And should you ever need cheering up, just see this whole movie below: The Little Princess.  This 1939 film, starring Shirley Temple, was based on the beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The original cover of the 1905 novel.

The original cover of the 1905 novel.

Thank you, Shirley, for all the joy you’ve given us.  The best way to show our respects to her is to see her films.  So enjoy–and don’t forget the popcorn!

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