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
Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page
Vintage Dolls of the 50s
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
Circling the Square: Stringer's retirement a loss for the communityWicked Local, February 4th
Of course, I had a beautiful Shirley Temple doll I absolutely loved. ... Interestingly, actress Kirstie Alley, who has always had a problem with her weight, asked on Twitter if the celebrations of the newest Barbie dolls as role models should be taken...Read more
An Analysis of Alfred Hitchcock's Thriller, RebeccaHuffington Post, February 4th
Here we have a young bride (Joan Fontaine) who is so displaced and alone that we are somehow reminded of a more twisted version of Little Orphan Annie arriving at Daddy Warbuck's house, or Shirley Temple in The Little Princess, curled up by a fire...Read more
In age of apps, an exhibit of vintage toysInquirer.net, February 2nd
The antique dolls in the exhibit are a China head doll (German made, 1905-1910), a metal head doll (made by Minerva Dolls in the United States), and a Russian doll (France, made of ceramic). Contemporary celebrity dolls include those of Shirley Temple...Read more
The soul songs that saved me: Sexuality, the South, sadness, meet Al Green and ...Salon, January 30th
She was the creamy-skinned dream child relatives adored, with long hair, a living doll with Shirley Temple vibrancy. The girl danced and sang for anybody who paid attention, and Dusa loved attention. Mama Teacake's attachment to her bordered on ...Read more
This Happened at the SAG Awards: 22 Moments That Need RememberingE! Online, January 29th
Twelve-year-old Dakota Fanning brought a Shirley Temple doll with her on stage in 2006 to introduce Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Shirley Temple Black. SAG has a history of recognizing the young talent in its midst. Dakota was a nominee at 8 for ...Read more
Theater Listings for Jan. 29-Feb. 4New York Times, January 28th
This spiked Shirley Temple of a show, which first opened in 1992 and now returns with less fizz, follows the adventures of Tina Denmark (Tori Murray), a stage-struck prepubescent with occasional homicidal tendencies. But what must have once seemed...Read more
BOOK EXCERPT: 'In a Different Key: The Story of Autism' by John Donvan and ...ABC News, January 15th
One of the nurses took possession of her prized Shirley Temple doll -- which she would never see again -- and directed her in-stead to the shelves of communal toys, games, and books. Another nurse took away the clothes and shoes she had worn from home ...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 ... It also coincides with the United Federation of Doll Clubs annual convention, which is being held at the Downtown Marriott this week. It's...Read more