During the bleak years of the Great Depression, the lovable Shirley Temple became a symbol of happiness and hope for audiences around the world. In 1934, 20th Century Fox film songwriter Jay Gorney was taken with the dimpled, flaxen-haired star of a short film that preceded the feature at a local Los Angeles theater. As he was leaving, Gorney was surprised to recognize Temple and her family at the same theater, and soon the young actress was signing her first contract with Fox. By the end of the year, Temple would be featured in seven films, and would become the top-grossing box office star in the world.
Meanwhile, the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company approached the Temple family with its Shirley Temple doll concept, and sculptor Bernard Lipfert was tasked to create its unique mold. After seeing more than 20 variations, both the Temple family and Ideal’s staff were satisfied, and the first composition Shirley Temple doll was created.
The earliest prototype was made from composition with three different wig options—red, blond, and brunette. A more generic version of the doll was also marketed without using Temple’s last name. In October of 1934, Ideal applied for a patent, and the Shirley Temple doll was officially announced in an issue of the retail industry magazine “Playthings.”
The updated design came in four sizes, with hazel eyes and curly, strawberry-blonde hair. The product’s only marking read “COP IDEAL N&T Co.” which was imprinted on the back of the doll’s head. Shirley Temple dolls came complete with a polka-dotted dress like the one she wore in “Stand Up and Cheer,” along with an official tag and celluloid button.
At $3.00 each, even the smallest Shirley Temple dolls weren’t cheap. Yet the toys were a hit, and soon Ideal commissioned designer Mollye Goldman to create a variety of outfits based on Temple’s film roles. Shirley Temple fans soon had an assortment of organdy dresses to choose from, many in cute sailor striped or polka-dotted styles.
These mini-versions of the child star quickly became Ideal’s best-selling product, and were made in nine different sizes. Other companies created knockoffs and found creative ways to skirt copyright law. Beginning with its “Little Colonel” doll, Madame Alexander purchased the rights to the books on which Temple’s films were based and marketed their dolls using these titles.
Over the years, Ideal modified its product, slimming the face mold, altering her coloration, and embossing the Shirley Temple name on both its body and head. Extensive lines of c...
After a nearly 20-year hiatus, the company released a slightly more grown-up Shirley Temple doll made from vinyl in 1957. Temple became closely involved with the production and promotion of Ideal’s new series, and two years later helped launch its first “Shirley Temple Playpal” doll, which was a full three feet in height.
In 1960, the first Shirley Temple Collectors Club was established. From the '60s through the '80s, new Shirley Temple dolls were regularly distributed by companies like Montgomery Ward and the Danbury Mint, aimed primarily at nostalgic adult collectors.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
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Recent News: Shirley Temple Dolls
Source: Google News
Nail-Reed Home featured on TourCleburne Times-Review, November 29th
New to her home this year is a doll collection inherited from Wilma's cousin, Janice. A total of 134 dolls were delivered to the Reed Home — collectibles of a wide variety, including Tonner, Madame Alexander, Shirley Temple, Barbie, Chatty Cathy to...Read more
Old-fashioned Christmas coming to Menomonie's Wilson Place MansionLeader-Telegram, November 28th
Two Shirley Temple porcelain dolls will also be on display. Advertisements from the 1920s and 30s will also be on display including some from Menomonie businesses. House history. Built in 1859 by Capt. William Wilson, the Wilson Place Mansion was ...Read more
It's a small world after allWDAZ, November 27th
Renslow's dolls are made from all different materials, styles and costumes. She said with each new addition comes a story. “The doll is a lot more special to me when there is a story behind it, it's just fun to share that with people and you have a...Read more
Theater Listings for Nov. 27-Dec. 3New York Times, November 27th
'China Doll' (in previews; opens on Dec. 4) Some dolls talk. David Mamet doesn't. After the early closure of “The Anarchist” and a couple of modest revivals, Mr. Mamet has returned to Broadway with a new play, starring Al Pacino and Christopher Denham...Read more
Seniors remember their favorite holidays pastCanton Daily Ledger, November 25th
While Johnson remembered getting a Shirley Temple doll ("That was a long time ago," she laughed), her biggest memory was having Bible devotions on Christmas morning. "That's really what it's all about," Johnson said, "instead of the commercialism the ...Read more
OTHER HILLS OUTINGSRapid City Journal, November 25th
The exhibit explores the history of dolls through the ages and will include dolls from the museum's permanent collection, as well as 20th century favorites such as Shirley Temple, Raggedy Ann, Barbie, G.I. Joe, Cabbage Patch and Rainbow Brite. The...Read more
Palace displays old toy collectionNew Bern Sun Journal, November 21st
Along with the porcelain doll there are a number of other dolls: some nicely mad 19th century dolls (and a 1760s painting of a little girl holding her doll), a Shirley Temple doll in serious need of a brush, and Cabbage Patch dolls, the 20th century's...Read more
Shirley Temple's memorabilia auction may rack up high dollars in KCKansas City Star, July 13th
She was looking at one of the many Shirley Temple dolls that the actress owned as a child. It made Cotter think of her mother and how ... “It's what I always wanted,” Cotter, 61, of Wichita, said of the Shirley Temple doll. “This is me pursuing a...Read more