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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Lorettas Shirley Temple Dolls

Lorettas Shirley Temple Dolls

Loretta McKenzie's tribute to the charming, singing, dancing, curly haired Shirley Temple. Click 'My Dolls' on the … [read review or visit site]

Dollreference.com

Dollreference.com

This densely packed index of antique and vintage dolls claims to offer over 10,000 images of dolls from the 1800s … [read review or visit site]

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

If you're a Steve McQueen fan, this site can't be beat. Roger Harris has put together a definitive collection of Mc… [read review or visit site]

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

If you're the type who likes watching the titles and credits at the beginning of movies, you'll love this site. Ste… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Rhonda Wilson's collection of 1950s dolls, organized by name (Ginny and friends, Littlest Angel and friends, etc.) … [read review or visit site]

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylee's extensive collection of vintage dolls from the 1930s to 90s. Click the balloons to browse. Though Kaylee s… [read review or visit site]

Cinema Treasures

Cinema Treasures

This user-contributed database of classic movie theaters currently lists over 17,000 theaters worldwide. Browse by … [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Dave Mackey's filmography and title card gallery for 35 years of Warner Bros. cartoons. Browsable by year or alphab… [read review or visit site]

Steves Disney Collection

Steves Disney Collection

Steve Lee’s large collection of original Disney art: pencil drawings from animated features produced during W… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage 18" Shirley Temple Composition Doll Ideal & Tea Set + AdVintage 1930's Genuine Shirley Temple Composition Doll 18" TallAntique Shirley Temple 16" Doll Composition Original Dress Sock Wig + OutfitsVintage 1930's Ideal Original Dress Shirley Temple Jointed Composition 16" Doll Vintage 18" Ideal Shirley Temple Composition DollSweet Lolita Emily Temple Cute Shirley Temple Lot Kawaii Dress Skirt HarajukuLtd Doll Stamp & 1950's Ideal 19" Vinyl Shirley Temple Doll W/flirty EyesDress & Hat For-19" Patsy Ann And 18" Shirley Temple Doll, New 30" Composition Doll Cloth Body Eyes Close Wig -shirley Temple Tlc Restoration1958 Shirley Temple Doll Factory Dress Blue Floral W/ LaceShirley Temple 13 Vintage Doll With Original Clothes13" Marked Shirley Temple Doll Composition 1930's Redressed TlcSweet Lolita Cardigan Lot Emily Temple Cute Shirley Temple Kawaii HarajukuShirley Temple Vintage Porcelain DollLittle Miss Shirley Temple Doll Danbury Mint Porcelain W/ CertificateShirley Temple Little Darling Collection - 18 Dvd Box (2009) Free ShippingAnitque 1950s Ideal Shirley Temple Doll St-17Shirley Temple Lot Ideal Doll Vintage Hair Net Never Removed, & Glassware Shirley Temple Memorbilia LampLot Of 6 Danbury Mint 16" Vinyl Shirley Temple Dress Up Doll Ensembles Nrfb Lot Of 5 - 1940s & 1950s Movie Stars Parade & Album Magazines Shirley Temple Original Shirley Temple Hard Wood Handmade Paper Doll W/clothesD948. Vintage: Shirley Temple's Birthday Doll Book By Dell Publishing (1935)Lot 3 Vintage Shirley Temple Ideal Dolls 1972 Dimples Suzannah 1982 Blue Bird1998 Danbury Mint Baby Take A Bow Shirley Temple Doll NibBeautiful Rare Vintage Shirley Temple Mini Perfume Gorgeous Graphics Look1982 Ideal Vinyl/plastic Shirley Temple Doll~stand Up & Cheer~no Box~12"Original, Shirley Temple Doll, Original Clothes, 17 Inches Tall,, Circa 1955Vintage Royal Crown Rc Cola Shirley Temple Fan Buy More War Bonds AdvertisementVintage Ideal Shirley Temple Dolls Lot Of 5 "as Is" In Boxes 1982 Hong Kong Vintage 12 Inch Shirley Temple DollThe Bachelor And The Bobby-soxer Dvd - Cary Grant - Shirley Temple - Myrna Loy Dolls, Dreams & Love, Shirley Temple, Good Ship Lollipop, Sailor, 31", 1984Danbury Mint Shirley Temple Doll 18" The Little PrincessShirley Temple Frock TagOriginal 1930's Shirley Temple Cinderella Frock For Girls Large Paper Tag Vintage Sheet Music "little Colonel" (shirley Temple) 1935Shirley Temple Rubber Stamp 1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Big 22" Compo Darling Ready For The Holidays!The Little Colonel Movie Poster-original 1936 Shirley Temple"heidi" 1994 Movie Costume Danbury Mint For Vinyl Shirley Temple Doll NrfbShirley Temple Cinderella Frock Tag16" Danbury Mint Shirley Temple Ideal Doll 1972 Stand Up And Cheer Box N383 PdShirley Temple - 1935 Klene Early Child Actress/movie Star Dutch Gum CardVintage August 1934 American Magazine Shirley Temple Starlet Lefty GroveChild Star: An Autobiography Shirley Temple (1989, Hardcover) Fine In Fine DjVintage Plastic Tea Cup From Ideal Toy Set - Embossed Picture Of Shirley TempleShirley Temple 1936 Zuban Film Star Cigarette Card #249Shirley Temple 1936 Orienta Stern Film Star Cigarette Card #245Shirley Temple Black - Rare Autographed Original Sheet Music -signed -child StarBrand New 12" Danbury Mint Shirley Temple Baby Take A Bow Porcelain Doll MibBeautifully Restored 17.25 Composition Shirley Temple Doll Marked On Head & BodyPoetic Licence 10m Sweet Shirley Temple Wedges Sandals Pin Up Rockabilly To CuteVintage Shirley Temple Type Black Oilcloth Mary Janes, 20-22"?, 1950's, So Cute!The Shirley Temple Dress Up Doll The Littlest Rebel Vintage Outfit Danbury MintShirley Temple's Storybook 1958 Random House Hard Cover Vintage BookVintage 1960's Simplicity 2717 Wardrobe For Shirley Temple Doll Size 17"D950. Vintage: Plaza Theater Fold-out Pamphlet Featuring Shirley Temple (1939)When I'm With You Shirley Temple 1936 Sheet Music From Poor Little Rich GirlShirley Temple Animal Crackers Sheet Music From Curly Top

Recent News: Shirley Temple Dolls

Source: Google News

LETTER: 'Tis the season to be jolly?
South Jersey Local News, December 18th

That all boys and girls should not ask Santa for GI Joe's and Barbie dolls. They should ask for Easy Bake Ovens. I sure am glad those miserable scrooges weren't around when I asked Santa for my Shirley Temple doll back in the good old days. I have some ...Read more

FLOWERS: Plenty of classics on Christmas lists
Lufkin Daily News, December 16th

1910s: Teddy Bear 1920s: YoYo, Tinker Toys, Raggedy Ann 1930s-40s: Shirley Temple Doll, Red Ryder BB Gun, Slinky, Lego's, View Master 1950s: Hula Hoop, Mr. Potato Head, Barbie 1960s: Etch A Sketch, GI Joe, Easy Bake Oven, Rock 'em Sock 'em ...Read more

Open House at museum a huge success
Greensburg Daily News, December 16th

One of the most popular displays downstairs was by Ginny Garvey who brought dolls and the books written about them. Examples included Charlie McCarthy and a book about him, Shirley Temple with one of the books about her, The Wizard of Oz doll and ...Read more

Yuletides past
Cleburne Times-Review, December 15th

Santa finally brought me a bike, that was probably my happiest Christmas.” For Lanetta Pauly that special gift was a Shirley Temple doll. “I'd always wanted one,” Pauly said. “By the time I got one I was 12, a big kid. Probably too old for dolls...Read more

DYKN? A look at Christmas past
The Newark Advocate, December 13th

Girls asked for an Anne Shirley/Shirley Temple doll or a doll house. My brother, five years older, had a Flexible Flyer sled and I got his shorter hand-me-down sled. Our favorite place to slide was Dr. Mitchell's front yard. He had the best sledding...Read more

Antiques & Collectibles: Shirley Temple dolls still enchant collectors
Press of Atlantic City, December 5th

Ideal's original Shirley Temple doll, introduced in 1934, was a composition model of the famous child movie star. Enhanced with a mohair wig, it enjoyed international popularity until World War II. Later dolls such as yours were reissues with a vinyl...Read more

I know a story: Shirley Temple fan recalls 'Heidi'
LancasterOnline, November 20th

We played with Shirley Temple paper dolls, drank from blue glass mugs with Shirley's picture on them, and had a dress like Shirley's. Many years passed, television came, and we would call each other when we saw that “Heidi” was on TV. We'd watch it ...Read more

Hot toys of Christmas past: Cabbage Patch Kids leads pack when it comes to ...
AL.com, November 20th

Chris Byrne, the Content Director for Time To Play Mag, said one of the first toys to ever create a craze was the Shirley Temple Doll in the early to mid-1930s. "Everyone wanted a Shirley Temple Doll, because it was one of the first major celebrity...Read more