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.

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Recent News: Shirley Temple Dolls

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Temporary exhibit opens at Fraizer History Museum
WLKY Louisville, July 3rd

And then just simple things like her little dolls, her very first Raggedy Ann doll. Everyone will find some unique attachment and connection to her. Everyone has wonderful emotions that are directly connected to Shirley Temple,” Theriault's president...Read more

8 Albums By Classic Rock Artists That Left Fans Baffled
VH1.com (blog), July 2nd

On the famous cover of the Beatles' before-and-after line in music history, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a Shirley Temple doll wears a promotional radio sweatshirt from a Tennessee station emblazoned with the words, “WMPS Good Guys Welcome ...Read more

"Love, Shirley Temple" exhibit opens at Frazier History Museum July 3-8
WDRB, July 2nd

Shirley Temple is one of Hollywood's most iconic and memorable sweethearts. The display features nearly 200 items from the legendary actress's personal collection of movie costumes, dolls and memorabilia. Louisville is the last stop on the seven city...Read more

Nutley opinion: Doctor memories
NorthJersey.com, July 1st

"He accepted lasagnas, apple pies, and clothes for his daughter's Shirley Temple doll, and often let bills go unpaid. It wasn't surprising that his patients and friends honored him at a tribute dinner in recognition of 40 years of serving Nutley and...Read more

Shirley Temple exhibit comes to Fort Worth
Fort Worth Star Telegram, June 18th

Shirley Temple's mother saved virtually everything from little Curly Top's legendary 1930s showbiz career: her movie costumes, props that she handled, an enormous doll collection, portraits by famous artists and one-of-a-kind gifts from fellow celebs...Read more

Shirley Temple Black memorabilia to be exhibited this weekend
Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 10th

After months of unpacking, cataloging and hanging the costumes in her mother's cedar-lined closets, this dress along with more than 100 costumes, dolls and other Shirley Temple memorabilia will be exhibited Friday through Sunday at the Stanford Theatre...Read more

It's Shirley Temple week
Los Angeles Times, June 6th

Shirley Temple" exhibition, which continues through June 10. The exhibition, sponsored by the Theriault's auction house, features a wide array of items from Temple's childhood collection, including film costumes, gifts, dolls, toys, signed letters...Read more

Legendary Actress Shirley Temple's Personal Childhood Collection Of Movie ...
PR Newswire (press release), April 21st

The iconic Hollywood star Shirley Temple's private collection of movie costumes and childhood memorabilia will travel the U.S. this spring and summer and be featured in a Theriault auction event on July 14th. ... Steinway on behalf of his family, her...Read more