Facts About Shirley Temple We Just Learned That Made Us Say 'Really?'
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.
- Photo: United Artists / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain11,193 VOTES
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."
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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.
- Photo: War Babies / Educational Film Exchanges3945 VOTES
She Had To Sit On An Ice Block When She Misbehaved Early In Her Career
For her earliest role in the satirical Baby Burlesks series, Temple was cast as a young girl portraying adult roles, wearing skimpy outfits for her age. In her autobiography, Temple recalls the film series as "a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence."
If any of the two dozen children in the Baby Burlesks misbehaved, they were locked in a windowless sound booth dubbed the “punishment box,” where they’d be forced to sit on a block of ice. Temple was sent to the box several times, but "far as I can tell, the black box did no lasting damage to my psyche," she wrote. "Its lesson of life, however, was profound and unforgettable. Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble."
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Someone Made An Attempt On Her Life
Temple experienced fawning fans, large paychecks, and what seems like unlimited options, but living in the public eye had its dark side, too.
Temple recalled that when she was 10 years old doing a live radio appearance, a woman "pulled out a rather big gun and started to point it" at her. Police captured and disarmed the woman quickly, however, so no harm came to the young star.
- Photo: Fox Film Corp / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain5939 VOTES
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.
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She Was The Youngest-Ever Oscar Recipient - Kind Of
Temple was a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood even at age 6. By then, she had starred in 10 movies in one year and was in serious contention for an Academy Award. No one so young had ever been nominated before. But instead of winning the real deal, she received an honorary Academy Juvenile Award on Oscar night. Her award was even pint-sized, much like the young actor, custom-made to be about half the size of the original. Many believe the Academy decided to create the new juvenile category because they weren't sure youngsters could - or should - compete with adults.
Similar awards were then given to about a dozen other actors under the age of 18 over the next 25 years, until the program stopped when 16-year-old Patty Duke won the award for real. To date, the youngest person to win a real Oscar is Tatum O'Neal, at age 10.