Shirley Temple begins her 1988 autobiography with these words:
In 1931, when I was barely three years old, Mother led me up the path from a quiet street in Santa Monica, Calfornia, to the doorway of Mrs. Meglin’s Dance Studio. It was the first small step to several disparate careers: movies, television, twice a housewife, thrice a mother, politician and diplomat.
What Temple modestly left out was the fact that she became the most famous child star in Hollywood history. So, how much do you know about this curly-haired moppet who turned out to be perhaps the film colony’s biggest audience morale booster during the dreadful Great Depression of the 1930’s?
Let’s check the answers to yesterday’s Monday Quiz and find out. As usual, to review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: Temple, born in 1928, began appearing in movies at c) age three. Her overall career, including tv appearances, lasted more than 30 years. She died in 2014.
2) Answer: a) Darryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, was deeply involved in Temple’s movie career if only because she was the studio’s biggest star and financial mainstay.
3) Answer: c) John Ford, who hated child actors. He was assigned by Zanuck to direct Temple in 1937’s Wee Willie Winkle. He and she got along about as well as could be expected — which was better than most thought possible. We just went out and made the picture, recalled Ford.
4) Answer: While in a studio conference with novelist John Steinbeck about preparations for the movie version of The Grapes of Wrath, Zanuck was called to the phone and told the bad news: b) Temple’s front tooth had fallen out. Panic in the executive ranks ensued.
5) Answer: a) True. Rumors floated about Europe for a time that Temple wasn’t a child but an adult midget. British novelist Graham Greene stoked the rumors in 1937 with a review of Wee Willie Winkle, writing: …Infancy with her is a disguise, her appeal is more secret and more adult.
6) Answer: d) 56 curls.
7) Answer: c) Cary Grant, who does not come off especially well in Temple’s autobiography.
8) Answer: b) and d) Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
9) Answer: a) True. By 1950, when Temple was 22 and well past her Hollywood prime, she turned down many of the tv and movie offers she was still getting. Her hardnosed MCA agent called her in and fired her. He bluntly told her she was “washed up.”
10) Answer: b) False. Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson were lifelong friends. Shortly before he died in 1949 at age 71, she and “my cherished dance partner” got together and recalled former times. Said Robinson: “Both of us come a long way since that first staircase dance way back in 1934. Still plenty to laugh about.”