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”)
Lorettas Shirley Temple Dolls
Steve McQueen Film Poster Site
Vintage Dolls of the 50s
Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page
Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls
Museum of Childhood
Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery
Steves Disney Collection
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Shirley Temple Dolls
Source: Google News
Private doll collection brings in thousands for charityConnectTriStates.com powered by KHQA, December 9th
"My mom growing up didn't have a lot of dolls as a girl. When she and my dad got married, my dad purchased a Shirley Temple doll for her that I think she had always wanted when she was a little girl. And that kind of I think got her passions going of...Read more
Nov. 30, 2013 12:01 amHannibal.net, December 3rd
"I always wanted a Shirley Temple doll, and he got me my first when we hadn't been married too long," she said. Many of the dolls in her collection are hand-made, and she made all her own doll clothes. "I have some beautiful dolls and a lot of Madam ...Read more
For a war flick, "Thief" is a pretty puddleHispanicBusiness.com, December 3rd
They might as well have cast Shirley Temple or the fictional Curly McDimple in the part. Nelisse is so beautiful that she reminds us of Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet." It seems appropriate that her character is named Liesel, the same as the...Read more
A Little PrincessEDGEOnTheNet, December 3rd
Sara also leaves behind a nana, who is sort of a Mother Africa, the regal Aljana (the beautifully voiced Aubin Wise), whom Sara names her doll after as a sort of spiritual guide, while Captain Crewe's right hand man Pasko (Jared Dixon) accompanies...Read more
FLASHBACK LANCASTER: Dec. 2, 2013Lancaster Newspapers, December 2nd
For Christmas gifts for the kiddies Joe the Motorist's Friend, 24 E. King St., had the Li'l Abner Shooting Gallery set, with a cork-firing rifle and assorted targets for 98 cents, various sizes of Shirley Temple dolls ranging from 98 cents to $3.98 and...Read more
'America Now' warns beware of mortuary malpractice on Fox-NYExaminer.com, November 27th
Some of his most valuable items are old movie dolls. Originally selling for about $2, these dolls depicted characters in the movies. Old Shirley Temple dolls manufactured by the Ideal Toy Company and his most valuable one is from 1937 as Shirley...Read more
Buying vintage toys serves as a way of reliving childhood for 'Scout'Pasadena Star-News, November 18th
Based on more than 300 toy-buying shows in the past 15 years, Magee said he can expect to see people bring Pez Dispensers, Star Wars and Beatles memorabilia, superhero figurines, baseball cards, 1940-'60s comic books, as well as Shirley Temple dolls, ...Read more
Buyers claim dolls at auctionClinton Herald, November 15th
A baby Sasha doll sold for $140, the other two Sasha dolls went to a different buyer for $270 and two sets of clothes for Sasha were new and in original package and topped out for $50. The Shirley Temple doll quickly sold for $130. The Cabbage Patch...Read more