via Flickr, Gushi Soda

We kick off 2021 with optimism and a charming smile, but Shirley Temple Black was a lot more than just an adorable, emotional cheerleader through the Depression, that was only her first act.

Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California. She was the third, last, and the only daughter of George and Gertrude Temple.

Shirley’s brothers were 9 and 13 years older than she was which gave Mama Gertrude a lot of time to dote on Shirley. Look, we moms we all know that our kids are the most talented, most adorable, brightest kids on the planet–Gertrude just went with that and enrolled the tot into dance classes at barely three years old.

Shirley in 1933’s Glad Rags to Riches, one of her Baby Berlesk films.

Gertrude was right, it wasn’t long before Shirley was discovered and her film career began, which was great as the country was getting deep into the Great Depression and Americans needed the cheer and optimism the little girl provided, the happy endings of her movies, and the way those 56 curls bounced…simply put: Shirley Temple provided the right escapism by the right person at the right time.

Her first feature movie was Stand up and Cheer. In it, she sings and dances with James Dunn the song Baby Take a Bow. This is not that movie- so confusing, this is her fifth feature-length movie.


She signed her name at Grauman’s in 1935; her actual star and induction into Walk of Fame were given in 1960. Flickr, Troy David



Shirley leaves a meeting with President Roosevelt in 1938. Library of Congress


Beckett’s mom on the left, before she learned she wasn’t naturally a redhead!

But the years and years of superstardom didn’t inflate her ego to unsustainable proportions, they only set the foundation for the strong, determined, and seemingly eternally optimistic woman Shirley was going to grow into. So what if her first marriage was a flop except for the child it produced? Her second marriage in 1949 gave her two more well-loved children and a happily ever after.

1948, she’s was wrapping up her film career and her first marriage was on its last legs. via wikicommons


Shirley and baby Susan, 1948– Shirley is 20. Public Domain

Shirley herself divided her life into three acts: Child star, Mother and Wife, and Public Service. The third act had her traveling the world, serving as US Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslavakia, as the first female Chief of Protocol for the State Department, a trainer of future Ambassadors, surviving and speaking out about breast cancer, and doing impressive (and global) work for both the Multiple Sclerosis Society and environmental organizations.

Chief of Protocol (and President Ford) 1976 Public Domain


Shirley Temple Black, 1998 (at 70, dang, she did aging well!) Shutterstock

Shirley Temple Black died at age 85 on February 10, 2014, of COPD. She’s interred in the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alta California and lives on as an eternally tap-dancing, singing, joyful bundle of cute in the hearts of anyone who watches her movies.

Shirley did so much more with her life than appear in movies, but we’ll just go ahead and perpetuate that image watching videos like this one, seven-year-old Shirley (although her bio had her as six…we cover that and all her other Hollywood treatments in the podcast) dancing with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson as the first interracial dance pair on film:


Time Travel with The History Chicks


Good for looking at both Shirley and America during her film career.


The autobiography written in 1980s, she claimed part two was being written, her son had promised its publication in 2018, but it never was.



More in-depth biography but Shirley was still alive when it was published so it ends

The other biography, The Shirley Temple Story by ester David and Irene David is hard to find and doesn’t seem to be available online, if your library doesn’t have it you can try EBay, your Grandma’s bookshelf, or Etsy.


The Shirley Temple Pinterest board is the best place to go for links to even more intel on the moppet! We have a board for every episode, following is encouraged and appreciated!

Santa Monica History Museum has an annual Shirley Temple exhibit, when they are open, which they aren’t right now.

Want to brush up on your geography? This is Beckett’s favorite site to do that! SPORCLE

More details on the auction of her collection in 2015.

Dirty Shirley Cocktail

Susan likes her cocktails fancy

The PoshTots catalog appears to be no more, but you can find lots of elaborate playhouses at Lilliput Playhomes.

The Shirley Temple King on Instagram


Moving Pictures!

We aren’t going to link you up to all the Shirley Temple movies, you’ll have to do that yourself, but here’s a couple of clips for immediate enjoyment.

Will Farrell’s Pearl the Landlord is very inappropriate, you’ll have to look it up yourself, but it reminded Beckett of the Baby Berlesks, which you can watch on Amazon Video (although they are a buck apiece.) If you’re into more wholesome content, you can watch Shirley Temple’s Storybook on Prime Video (no extra charge.) Mod 60s Retelling of Classic Fairytales.

Here is Shirley when she was on her book tour in the late 80s, the part about her “encounter” in an MGM office is at the 12:20 mark.

Here’s some info on the Shirley Temple Peony (which, admit it, is a fun word to say) from

And for no other reasons than we mentioned it in this episode and it amuses Beckett so, we’ll end with this:


Just kidding, we’ll end with this (special thanks to Lindsey Marie from Twitter for reminding me! S.)

Break music: Little Blossom by John Marco Leon
End music: B-Movie, by The Spoons
Both used with permission