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
Annie Fellows Johnston and Her Little Colonel BooksThe 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 blazeBoston 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
Community-sponsored day trips and travelDelaware County Daily Times, July 25th
Cost of $74 includes $15 slot play, buffet lunch, and a show starring fantastic entertainer Laura Roth as she becomes Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and yes, even Shirley Temple. To the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Dec. 15. Cost of...Read more
The wonderful worlds of Arthur RankinRoyal Gazette, July 19th
The Botanical Gardens museum will feature dolls, scripts, photographs and other tools used by Mr Rankin and partner Jules Bass to create their world-famous “stop-motion” animated specials and films. The exhibit focuses on Mr Rankin's works from 1964's...Read more
Restorations made with loving careTri-Town News, July 15th
The sons were really very happy about the whole thing.” The doll, which resembled Shirley Temple in a sailor outfit, played a role in the family's celebration of the woman's life, Kathleen said. The finished clocks and dolls sometimes bring tears to...Read more
Crawford Productions, Homicide and the golden age of Australian TVABC Online, July 4th
In the late 1950s, Sunday night on the two commercial stations in Sydney saw Shirley Temple Story Book up against High Adventure at 6.30 pm, Leave it to Beaver against The Texan at 7.30 pm and Hollywood movies on both channels at 8 pm. ... When the...Read more
Help! Get your doll back on its feetFlorida Today, July 1st
We also received a ringing endorsement of Dolls of DeLand from reader Jane Jackson. “(It) did a fantastic job with my mom's 80-year-old Shirley Temple doll. (The proprietors) are just wonderful to work with, I trusted them immediately and they made Mom...Read more