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
Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery
Museum of Childhood
Steves Disney Collection
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Shirley Temple Dolls
Source: Google News
Tapestry Dance Company's In Your Shoes: The rhythm tap troupe explores ...Austin Chronicle, October 7th
When I mention that I'm going to see a tap dance show, people do one of three things: tell me that they took tap as a kid, give me a blank "Oh," or flex their wrists at their sides and do a Shirley Temple impersonation. But Tapestry Dance Company...Read more
MALDEN MUSINGS: Five questions for Deb DeMaria, random thoughtsWicked Local Malden, October 7th
D.D. - My favorite July 4th memory is from 1989 when my eldest daughter Lindsay (she was 6 years old at the time) marched in the doll carriage parade with her American Girl doll. M.M. - In your time in Malden (35 years I am told), who would be your...Read more
Tractor, Stethoscope, Tornado WarningSentinel-Standard, October 2nd
Blah … Blah. She turns and leans back against the sink with her arms crossed, looking down, watching Libby, sitting in front of the refrigerator on the old linoleum floor in her polka dot blue on white sundress, administering care to her Shirley...Read more
Couple's artworks, collectibles lost in Butte fire flamesModesto Bee (blog), September 26th
“I got a Shirley Temple doll,” she said. It became the first in her collection of valuable dolls that grew to 3,000 over the next 76 years – a lifetime of collecting, of creating, of cherishing. Graver collected one-of-a-kind Sasha dolls and Storybook...Read more
Shirley Temple's memorabilia auction may rack up high dollars in KCKansas City Star, July 13th
She was looking at one of the many Shirley Temple dolls that the actress owned as a child. It made Cotter think of her mother and how ... “It's what I always wanted,” Cotter, 61, of Wichita, said of the Shirley Temple doll. “This is me pursuing a...Read more
Shirley Temple Black memorabilia to be exhibited this weekend at Stanford TheatreSan Jose Mercury News, June 10th
After months of unpacking, cataloging and hanging the costumes in her mother's cedar-lined closets, this dress along with more than 100 costumes, dolls and other Shirley Temple memorabilia will be exhibited Friday through Sunday at the Stanford Theatre...Read more
Legendary Actress Shirley Temple's Personal Childhood Collection Of Movie ...PR Newswire (press release), April 21st
Theriault's, the world's auction leader for important childhood objects, will sponsor an extraordinary series of events highlighting items from Shirley Temple's famed childhood years, 1928-1940. Gertrude Temple's painstaking work in preserving her...Read more
Shirley Temple's Keepsakes Going On Tour, From Her Dolls To Her Baby GrandThe 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