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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.

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    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. 

    Fascinating fact?
  • Photo: War Babies / Educational Film Exchanges

    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." 

    Fascinating fact?
  • Photo: 20th Century Fox / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Temple achieved international stardom with the release of Bright Eyes in 1934. From 1935 to 1938, she was the world’s top box office star, leaving Clark Gable in second place. By 1940, however, her best films with 20th Century Fox were behind her. After box office flops, Fox dropped her contract.

    That same year, at the tender age of 12, she signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At the time, MGM reportedly ran child stars into the ground by forcing them to shoot film after film so the studio could capitalize on their youthful talent. Tragically, this wasn't the only way MGM exploited the young star. 

    Temple wrote in her autobiography that on her first visit to MGM, she met one of the studio’s producers, Arthur Freed. During a private meeting, she wrote, Freed unzipped his trousers and exposed himself to her, saying, “I have something made for just you.” She responded by giggling nervously, and he threw her out of his office. Freed went on to produce such films as Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Singin' in the Rain (1952). 

    Fascinating fact?
  • 8

    She Disliked The Popular Drink Named After Her

    The classic Shirley Temple drink - a nonalcoholic mix of ginger ale, grenadine, and lemon or lime juice, topped with a maraschino cherry - can be ordered at nearly any bar or restaurant in America. The drink might have started out popular because of the hold its namesake had on the world, but the Shirley Temple has endured because it allows kids to order what looks like an adult beverage but is actually sweet and zesty. 

    Temple herself, however, wasn't a fan of the drink, and although she never tried to get the original removed from menus, she did stop companies from putting her name and face on bottled varieties of the famed mocktail.

    Fascinating fact?