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

At Brimfield, everything old is old again
Boston Globe, August 22nd

“The problem,” he says, “is that Shirley Temple is worthless, nobody knows who Howdy Doody is, and no one cares about the Lone Ranger. ... The nearby pastures full of reproductions, Barbie dolls from the 1990s, and used Coldplay CDs grate on her...Read more

Parents plan fundraiser in honor of their daughter
Fremont Tribune, August 21st

Katie's favorite color was pink. She loved Barbie dolls and cats and was so excited about school. The 5-year-old Fremont ... The little girl had dark hair which fell in ringlets like actress Shirley Temple's. She knew how to write her name and was...Read more

Dolls of past spark nostalgia at show, sale
Asheville Citizen-Times, August 16th

“My daddy was a factory worker, and every Christmas I looked through the window of the toy store and desperately wished for a Terry Lee doll, but I never asked for one — they cost $25 back then, and I knew he couldn't afford it,” Gravely said. As an...Read more

Antique toy exhibit hosted by Otisfield association
Lewiston Sun Journal, August 15th

Among those items are a number of first-year-issue items, such as a 1963 Easy Bake Oven, a 1949 Clue game, tin trucks from the early part of the century and lovely and unusual dolls of every description, she said. "I have a Shirley Temple doll...Read more

Burton Antiques Market
Maine Antique Digest, August 15th

Smaller items were quite prevalent at Burton and ran the gamut of glass, grenades, and golf clubs to stoneware, steel cabinets, and Shirley Temple. ... Sandra Belko of Syracuse, New York, arranged her booth into small vignettes, one of which featured...Read more

For Karolyn 'Zuzu' Grimes of Port Orchard, it's still a wonderful life
Kitsap Sun, August 2nd

Creativity was needed for the pincurls Zuzu sports in the movie, since Grimes lacked Shirley Temple's ringlets. “My mother was famous for those dumb curls,” Grimes said. “I slept on bobby pins 'til I thought I'd have holes in my head.” California grown...Read more

Annie Fellows Johnston and Her Little Colonel Books
The Courier-Journal, July 29th

Dolls, diaries, game boards and clothes were hot items for children's toys and their popularity expanded when the film “The Little Colonel” was produced starring Shirley Temple in 1935. The characters in the stories were based on real people and places...Read more

Dozens displaced by fast-moving Cambridge blaze
Boston Globe, July 27th

The walls of Joan Lafleur's third-floor apartment had been covered in Barbie dolls, Elvis memorabilia, and antique music boxes from around the world. Among the sea of Barbies were 19 Shirley Temple porcelain dolls Lafleur had bought in the 1980s; a...Read more