Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Shirley Temple: A Tribute
We mourn today the loss of Shirley Temple, one of our all-time favorite actresses and dolls. I had the pleasure of meeting her in San Jose at a book signing for her autobiography, “Child Star”, at the historic Prune Yard Shopping Center in Campbell, California. It was Veterans Day 1988, and I waited two hours in the chilly autumn air, something I have not done since for anyone. She complimented me on my sweater, a Jennifer Moore brand from Macy’s, with a little Inuit girl in the center. I still have it. The place was packed, and she was truly the local girl who had done well. At the time, her own doll collection was on display ad the Stanford Children’s Hospital. It had been there since about 1970. I was little, but my mother brought the article about the launch party for the dolls’ exhibit to me. It was in Photoplay. I have photos of myself standing before the doll cases which I hope to post very soon. The dolls were there as late as 1991, and I visited them several times when I lived in The Bay Area. My favorite was the 5’ Geisha Ningyo, sent to her by the Children of Japan in a coffin! In her book, Ms. Temple said the dolls were an unwanted collection her studio encouraged because her rival Jane Withers was an avid collector. Later, however, Ms. Temple, who had her own playhouse and collected glass animals as a child, took the dolls home with her. I do remember reading irreverent remarks she made about asking the blue Shirley Temple mugs and pitchers and putting them through the dishwasher so her image would wash off and she would have a nice collection of blue glass! My mother and aunt loved Shirley Temple, as did I. I recently wrote about “The Little Princess” for a paper I gave at The Midwest Modern Language Association. My first mug was gift from a family friend when I was 8. My first old Shirley doll arrived when I was 9, though it took us a while to realize just who she was! Today, there are about 25 Shirley Temple dolls at The Museum, dating from the ‘30s to the contemporary Danbury Mint dolls. We have at least two sets of vintage and reproduction paper dolls, several articles, books, biographies, her auto biography, glassware, figurines, DVDs, and other licensed products. We applaud her diplomatic services and many accomplishments. At her signing, she was talking about the possibility of another diplomatic mission under the elder President Bush’s administration. She was an inspiration in many ways, and will live on a st the beautiful little “Curly Top” so many have come to love. May she sail away in peace on The Good Ship Lollipop.