SHIRLEY TEMPLE (13 April 1928 - 10 February 2014)
Who was the biggest box office draw of 1938? Not Clark Gable, who had been dubbed “The King of Hollywood”. Not Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the wildly popular dancing couple. It was Shirley Temple, the 10-year-old child star who beat them to first place. She was called “America’s Darling”, and for good reason. Shirley’s films, made during the Great Depression, were a way for America to forget about their troubles. This adorable little kid captured the imaginations of the country, and everyone from the man on the street corner to President Roosevelt loved her. The box office successes of Shirley Temple’s movies single-handedly saved 20th Century Fox Studios, and without her, none of their later successes, such as Star Wars, would have come into being. She stopped believing in Santa Claus at the age of six after she met him and he asked for her autograph, showing how widespread her impact in movies was. Shirley also was part of possibly the first interracial dance portrayed on-screen. After she outgrew films, She became a diplomat for the US, and managed to carve out another career for herself. Shirley battled breast cancer and was one of the first women to speak openly about the subject, thus encouraging other women to do the same. Her passing marks not just a sad event, but the end of an era, as she was undoubtedly the most beloved star of the 1930’s.
Rest in peace, Shirley. Thank you so much for making millions of people happy during the darkest times of the Depression, and thank you for all that you have done.