If you were born anytime between the early 1930s and the early 1970s, chances are your first crush was on Shirley Temple. Unlike any child star before or since, Shirley became a phenomenon and her wholesomeness was felt throughout a Hollywood very much tinged with scandal and vice.
The public embraced her as if she were their own little girl. Like many child stars, Shirley had a natural acting ability but unlike most others, hers was genuinely skillful!
Parents put rings in their little girls' hair and bought Shirley Temple dolls by the millions. At one point, Shirley was one of the highest paid performers in movies!
Nearly every studio auditioned children by the thousands looking for another Shirley and every child star who did come along was unfairly compared to the curly-topped Princess of the Pictures.
Shirley herself seemed to take all the fuss in stride but inevitably she started to grow up and, again in that way child stars have, as she became too conscious of the fact that she was acting, she wasn't able to do it as well.
Teenage Shirley was still cute and wholesome, even after an early and somewhat controversial marriage to returning soldier and future actor John Agar. But her spark was gone.
Her delivery just wasn't there and her attempts to move into more adult roles were met with indifference.
She tried television with a memorable show for kids and all of her old movies were re-released into the new medium to be rerun forevermore.
With little Shirley out there for whole new generations to keep discovering, grown-up Shirley, who had herself grown up in a bubble in a fantasy world, set her sights on the real world and entered into a life of politics and privacy.
Shirley Temple was, without the slightest question, the greatest child star and the best child actress of all time.
Rest in Peace.