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Facts About Shirley Temple We Just Learned That Made Us Say 'Really?'

March 4, 2021 2.8k votes 406 voters 26.9k views12 items

List RulesVote up the most interesting facts about Shirley Temple.

Her curly hair, precious smile, and bubbly personality made it very easy for fans to be fascinated by the young actor Shirley Temple. From her singing and dancing to her acting, it's almost difficult to believe she was a child at the height of her career. She paved the way for many child stars to come after her, and faced some troubled times doing so. But all in all, her life was interesting and full of both magic and tragedy, and Shirley Temple, who passed at age 85 in 2014, learned how to take it on the chin.

Vote up the facts about Shirley Temple you think are most interesting and shed a new light on the star who blossomed during the Great Depression.

  • 1

    The Vatican Sent An Emissary To Determine If Temple Was In Fact A Child

    As Temple's popularity in Hollywood soared, it's unsurprising that people began to wonder what made her so irresistible - and started rumors to try to bring her down. One of the more outlandish rumors was that she was an adult dwarf pretending to be a child.

    Some people claimed she was so talented it was unbelievable she could be younger than 10, but also that she never seemed to lose her baby teeth. It's since been revealed that this appearance was on purpose because Temple wore caps over her teeth at the request of studio executives who didn't want gaps in her well-known smile showing.

    What makes this story even wilder is that the official Vatican newspaper sent over an emissary, the Rev. Silvio Massante (considered a neutral observer), to rule whether or not there was any truth to the rumor. Massante went back to Italy sharing the knowledge that Temple was indeed a little girl.

    Fascinating fact?
  • Photo: United Artists / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Her Father Lost All Of Her Fortune By The Time She Was 22

    Temple's first role in Baby Burlesks garnered her a meager $50 a week, but by the end of that two-year contract, her pay grew to $1,000 a week, and an additional amount at the end of every movie she made. In 1936, Temple commanded $50,000 a film during a time when the average family in America was struggling to put food on the table. 

    But even though her father was a banker, her parents squandered her earnings. When Temple retired from Hollywood at the ripe age of 22, she wanted access to her trust, but was shocked to learn that less than $50,000 remained, not the $3.2 million the actor estimated she had earned.

    Temple said of the moment: "I felt neither disappointment nor anger," and "my attitude has always been get it over with and get on with life."

    Fascinating fact?
  • Photo: National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Temple was actively involved in diplomacy after her successful on-screen career. President Gerald Ford appointed her ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and years later, President George H.W. Bush named Temple the first female ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

    Many people greatly appreciated the positive impact she had in the role of ambassador abroad.

    Fascinating fact?
  • 4

    She Always Had Exactly 56 Curls

    Temple's mom, Gertrude, was the budding actor's hairdresser. Gertrude is also responsible for Temple's iconic curls, and she always put the same number of curls in her hair: 56

    The reason for this precise number is not known, but the bouncy hairstyle has become synonymous with the child star's name, so whatever the reason, it served her well.

    Fascinating fact?