Shirley Temple (1928-2014) is arguably the most famous child actress in film history.

She was very popular during the desperate times of The Great Depression, but those viewing her films today are more likely to have a reaction of Tastes Like Diabetes due to Values Dissonance. The racism of The Littlest Rebel (Shirley's character is shown in blackface at one point) is also startling to a modern audience.

Temple's star guttered out as she entered her late teens and early twenties, and she finally left Hollywood. After marrying her second husband, Temple entered politics, serving terms as chief of protocol and the U.S. ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

For some reason, characters based off her tend to be Spoiled Brats. Careful not to confuse her with Darla Hood.

This actress provides examples of:
  • Cheerful Child: Ms. Temple's usual role.
  • The Danza: In four of her early films.[1]
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: In Poor Little Rich Girl, Temple's character Barbara is forced to eat spinach, and says something along the lines of this. Barbara even performs a song on the radio based around this.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Often (but not always) played these in her films.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Some contemporary critics accused the producers of her films of exploiting her as this. As British film critic Graham Greene said in his review of Wee Willie Winkie: Her admirers—middle-aged men and clergymen—respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.
  • Pretty in Mink: She wore a white rabbit fur coat in one movie, and that's been the most common real fur choice for girls' coats since.
  • The Red Stapler: Set a lot of trends for girls, notably the hairstyle.** And the first name "Shirley", which was originally a boys' name (among others, the name is given to one of Anne of Green Gables' sons).
  • Regal Ringlets
  • She Is All Grown Up: Her later films, like Since You Went Away, and The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer.


  1. Including Bright Eyes, the first movie written specifically with her in mind.
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