I like to think everyone has the same experience of wonderful discovery upon their first introduction to Shirley Temple. It's as though you alone have stumbled across the very embodiment of happiness in the form of a little girl with curls. The experience stays with you always as a most magical moment.
For me it was Sunday's after church. I would hang over the front seat of our white Behemoth willing my father's foot to stay pressed down on the accelerator instead of his usual up and down movement that caused the car to lurch along the road. "Dad pleeeeaaassseee get me home by noon. I can't miss the Shirley Temple matinee on television!
It didn't matter that I was years older than the golden curled moppet, or live in a penthouse, or be expected to unite waring factions by the end of a second reel; it was that no matter the situation, this kid had moxie.
A "Can Do" attitude in the face of any hardship. This became a personality trait I wanted for myself, one I also saw everyday in my own mother who was a child of the Great Depression. "Don't Have/ Make Do", "Ask Not/ Want Not", "I'll Show'em, you bet I will!"
By chance a book sticking farther out from other nearby spines in my local library happened to be this most wonderful book I just had to share in the hopes others have just as strong memories of this same discovery. (Shirley Temple, A Pictorial History of the World's Greatest Film Star)
Imagine the lucky little girl who owned her own Shirley Temple doll with a trunk filled with clothes matching the ones seen in her movies.
I love that the Ideal Toy Company produced the Shirley doll in sizes for different budgets. She always came with an official Shirley Temple button that could be worn by the little girl herself.
Little girls begged their mother's to sew dresses for them just like their film idol. The Cinderella Dress Company began producing a line of Ready to Wear to meet every little girl's dream to be just like Shirley.
Moxie! That's what this little girl had to embody to maintain her composure under such attention and expectation. It seems Shirley had the grounding love of adoring parents and two much older brothers. She was not allowed to be a "Star" at home!
She would leave the film industry to raise her own family becoming Mrs. Shirley Temple Black, receding from the spotlight until her children were grown. She would re-enter national awareness as the first public person to share with others her winning battle with breast cancer. From the cover of Life magazine her moxie showed through, "If I can speak the C word out loud, so can you!"
I suppose Shirley Temple was a childhood hero for me. I know that I am a better person for having been influenced by her truly good heart. My husband would have the honor on several occasions to meet her in her role as Ambassador to Ghana during the Regan administration. He described his time with her just as I imagined it would be, "Her smile made you feel as though you had always known her."