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

Source: Google News

Shirley Temple's Keepsakes Going On Tour, From Her Dolls To Her Baby Grand
The Inquisitr, March 31st

So which of Shirley Temple's keepsakes could you own? There's the baby grand piano and child-sized race car from Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, her own autograph collection and her movie costumes, doll collection and gifts given to her by actors and...Read more

Model Call: Esmeralda Seay-Reynolds
WWD, March 30th

I used to design clothes for my Barbies and dolls. My mom would teach me how to sew and give me little ... That's where I get my height from, and I have naturally golden-blonde hair with Shirley Temple curls. My mom worked in fashion; she wanted to be...Read more

Fond Memories of Grandma
Visalia Times-Delta, March 30th

I would have a rug or an old quilt to sit on, and then I would either play with my Shirley Temple doll or with my paper dolls. My favorite paper doll was named Lynn, and grandma's name was Martha, so my first daughter was named Martha Lynn. I knew at...Read more

Annapolis auction firm Theriault's to sell childhood items from estate of ...
CapitalGazette.com, March 29th

"When Fox Studios built Shirley Temple's home for her in the 1930s, they put in climate controlled cabinets for her dolls," said Stuart Holbrook, president of Theriault's. "It was unprecedented. Yet, cloth and composition dolls usually deteriorate over...Read more

Historic toys and dolls in Poway
U-T San Diego, March 27th

Poway Park, toys and dolls from yesteryear and around the world beckon to the old and to the young. The San Diego Toy and Doll Museum features thousands of vintage items from Hot Wheels to Barbies, Shirley Temple dolls to amazing LEGO creations...Read more

Shirley Temple changed America
Fredericksburg.com, March 21st

Shirley Temple transformed children's fashions, popularizing a toddler look, including Big Sister versions, for girls up to the age of 12. Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. began making Shirley Temple dolls in October 1934, and soon they accounted for almost a...Read more

'The Porcelain Thief' Chronicles a Trip to Unearth Chinese Heirlooms
New York Times, March 19th

SHIRLEY TEMPLE COLLECTION. Shirley Temple, who died last year at 85, stored away tap shoes, dresses, dolls and memorabilia from her childhood days as a movie star. Starting next month, part of her collection will travel to museums as previews for a...Read more

Lost Shirley Temple doll still her favorite
Quad City Times, December 24th

Santa left no gifts, no Shirley Temple doll. Wallie remembers, “I cried and cried. Then he returned and handed me a big box. I tore off the wrapping paper. My hands were shaking. Inside was my Shirley Temple doll. It was the happiest Christmas of my life...Read more