President Franklin Roosevelt allegedly said during the Depression in the US in the 1930’s that "As long as we have Shirley Temple, we’ll be all right." Shirley turned 80 years young yesterday which is an impossible age to contemplate Little Miss Marker attaining. She’ll be forever the age of Heidi or any of the little characters she used to play in the popular imagination.
For those of you too young to recall, Shirley was a delighful presence on the silver screen in the 1930’s, a dancing and singing little girl with curley hair who charmed her way as a little heroine through a series of adventures. She ranked at the top or near the top of the box office during those years. A child actress with a few adult roles (she was actually quite good in John Ford’s "Fort Apache"), she essentially retired from Hollywood by 1950 and went on to serve as a diplomat in a few US Adminsitrations. I recall watching her films generations later on our black and white t.v. with my sisters, and enjoying them (while of course demanding we next watch a cowboy movie).
Some might say her time was a time of innocence, but we know it most certainly was not. Bread lines, unemployment, segregation and the reality of war reigned. But it was a time that appreciated and promoted innocence. Some might say it was all mere escapism, give folks a couple hours away from their hard existence in a movie theater. I don’t agree, although there was an element of that. I think it also offered people some ideals, some hope and some entertainment which are not such bad things. So Happy Belated Birthday Shirley, and thanks.
(This post has nothing to do with the U.S. Primary elections. You’re welcome).