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

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

All about Eva
San Antonio Express-News, March 18th

Then, there's the doll her mother and father cherished, the wide-eyed Shirley Temple Tejanita of the early 1950s who had to stand on a wooden crate to reach the microphone to sing. She first picked up her brother's ... I didn't play with dolls. I...Read more

Quest for the dress: Finding the right fashion key to prom
Salisbury Post, March 14th

Dolls at the museum showcase styles ranging from Shirley Temple to Jackie Kennedy to Cher. The museum aims to host as many fashion shows as possible, says Spencer Doll and Toy Museum volunteer Linda Sherrill. It's good publicity for the museum, and ...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

Antiques & Collectibles: Shirley Temple dolls still enchant collectors
Press of Atlantic City, December 5th

Ideal's original Shirley Temple doll, introduced in 1934, was a composition model of the famous child movie star. Enhanced with a mohair wig, it enjoyed international popularity until World War II. Later dolls such as yours were reissues with a vinyl...Read more