Monday, June 1, 2015

Shirley Temple ~ more 20th Century Americana

This is another post in my series of stories about 20th Century Americana, which I use as story starters and for helping with oral histories.  Most of these subjects bring back great memories to the people who lived through the 20th century, maybe even YOU!

Shirley Temple (23 April 1928 - 10 February 2014) was more than just a child star.  She helped to lift the spirits of Americans during the Great Depression.  She starred in films starting at age 3 and retired at age 22.  She was the top box office draw from 1935 to 1938, at the height of the Depression.  After her retirement from acting she sat on boards several companies including Walt Disney, and was a diplomat for the United Nations and as an ambassador from the United States to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Shirley Temple's personal autograph book, signed by famous 1930s personalities
Franklin Roosevelt, Orson Wells, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, etc. 

Costumes from many Shirley Temple movies
including my personal favorites "Heidi" and "A Little Princess"

I took my mother to see the Shirley Temple exhibit at the Wenham Museum on Mother's Day.  We had a lot of fun, and my mother was not the only one reminiscing.  I remember watching many of Shirley's movies as a child in the 1960s and 1970s.  There were lots of multi-generation families at the exhibit having fun examining all the objects, including many small children who were discovering Shirley's movies, costumes and toys for the first time.

It was a lot of fun seeing this exhibit with Mom.  She was born during the depression, and she remembered all of Shirley Temple's movies.  I listened to Mom tell stories about her memories of seeing the movies, and the different dolls on exhibit (she never had a Shirley Temple doll, but she had a Sonja Henie doll!), the outfits, the autographs of the other movie stars and radio stars and about the era in general.  This is the kind of exhibit that draws a lot of oral history from the older generations!

Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson

This miniature automobile (with a real engine) was a gift to Shirley from
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.  He had co-starred in several of her movies.
Just look at the face of that envious little boy in the upper left corner! 

Shirley's mother saved and preserved all of the clothing, tap shoes, letters, dolls and things from Shirley's childhood.  According to the brochure distributed at this exhibit "...the private archives of the Shirley Temple childhood is an astounding and virtually unprecedented find in the world today in that a star, not just any star, but the biggest star of the 1930s, preserved so much from her most significant years in the public eye."

Shirley's personal autograph book signed by Disney staff members

Do you recognize this little dress?  Five year old Shirley Temple
wore this dress in "Stand up and Cheer".  Many Shirley dolls wore this dress.
Shirley's childhood hankies!  She always had a purse that carried
a hanky, a slingshot, and her police badge. 

A number of pieces from this private family archive are traveling the country on exhibit.  Over 500 costumes, dolls, toys, and memorabilia will be auctioned by the Shirley Temple Family on July 14th at the Little Theatre in Kansas City.

Shirley Temple's tap shoes, the plaque reads "To Shirley from Uncle Bill"
another gift from Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.
They were the first inter-racial couple to dance together on the silver screen. 

June 4 - 10, Santa Monica History Museum, Santa Monica, California
June 12 - 14, Stanford Theatre,  Palo Alto, California
June 20 - 27, Fort Worth Community Arts Center, Fort Worth, Texas
July 3 - 8, Frazier History Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
The Auction will be July 14th at the Little Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri

"Love, Shirley Temple"  Events and Auction

Wenham Museum, 132 Main Street, Wenham, Massachusetts   

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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