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In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

“As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right. When the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time during this Depression, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.”

“As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right. When the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time during this Depression, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.”

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That quote was famously said by President Franklin Roosevelt and after all these years it still rings true. With each new generation, there is the opportunity to once again find her movies and be reminded of optimism and hope in trying times.

Sadly, Shirley Temple Black passed away on February 10, 2014, and the world lost a bright light. However, Shirley will continue to live on through her stories. She is perhaps, and probably always will be, the greatest child star of all time.

A Little Bit of History

Born April 23, 1928, to parents Gertrude Temple and George Francis Temple, she was only three years old when she started making movies. But it was with her breakout performance in Stand Up and Cheer! In 1934 that Shirley became a huge star.

By 1935 she became the top box office draw which lasted for four years. She stayed in acting until 1950 when she retired from making movies at only 22.

Shirley_Temple_Colored_HeadshotShe married Charles Black and became a devoted wife and mother. While she did do a little bit of TV work in the fifties and sixties, she retired from acting for good and turned to public service. Eventually, Shirley became the Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and was the first woman Chief of Protocol in the United States.  Not only that, she beat breast cancer in the early ‘70s and talked openly about her experiences, one of the first women to do so. Then, in 2006, Shirley Temple Black received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actor’s Guild.

Memories of Shirley Temple Movies

I remember the first time I ever watched a Shirley Temple movie was with my grandmother when I was about six-years-old; Instantly, I was hooked. She introduced me to the world of Shirley’s optimism and cheerful disposition that could melt the coldest of hearts.

Shirley Temple in The Little Princess
Shirley Temple in The Little Princess

As a child, I related to Shirley’s personality. I was imaginative, intensely optimistic and loved befriending all of the adults around me. I was a little adult myself. While I liked the dolls, My Little Ponies and stuffed animals I received, my favorite Christmas or birthday gifts were Shirley Temple biographies (which at eight-years-old I read from beginning to end on numerous occasions; Child Star – Shirley’s actual autobiography my personal favorite), her movies, and other memorabilia. Everyone in school knew me (and my twin sister Autumn) as the Shirley Temple experts.

Cary Grant and Shirley Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer. Photo: Warner Bros.
Cary Grant and Shirley Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.
Photo: Warner Bros.

I memorized many of her songs, imitated her mannerisms, learned the dance moves and put on many Shirley Temple impersonations. My Dad was a musician, so a few times as his opening act I’d do a little song and dance. My favorite to perform was “Animal Crackers in My Soup.”

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As I grew up, obviously I left the impersonations behind, but memories of what she meant to me as a child never faded.

Autumn (left) and me, Amber (on right) at Grauman's Chinese Theatre posing next to Shirley Temple's handprints.
Autumn (left) and me, Amber (on right) at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre posing next to Shirley Temple’s handprints at ten-years-old.
Me, Amber (on left) and Autumn on right at 21-years-old posing in the same spot, only we switched sides!
Me, Amber (on left) and Autumn on right at 21-years-old posing in the same spot, only we switched sides!

So, since having probably been one of her biggest fans while growing up, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute in some way. Therefore for this week’s Top List, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to pick 20 of Shirley’s best movies. The list is in descending order.

Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#20: Dimples

Shirley Temple - Dimples

#19: Fort Apache

Shirley Temple - Fort Apache

#18: Young People

Shirley Temple - Young People

#17: Stowaway

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#16: Baby Take A Bow

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#15: Just Around the Corner

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#14: Poor Little Rich Girl

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#13: Little Miss Broadway

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#12: Since You Went Away

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#11: Little Miss Marker

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#10: Wee Willie Winkie

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#9: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#8: Captain January

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#7: The Littlest Rebel

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#6: Curly Top

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#5: Bright Eyes

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#4: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#3: Heidi

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#2: The Little Princess

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

#1: The Little Colonel

In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies

Do you have any memories of Shirley Temple? What is your personal favorite Shirley Temple movie? Leave a comment and let us know!
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By on February 26th, 2014

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a blogger/writer full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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4 thoughts on “In Memoriam: The Top 20 Shirley Temple Movies”

  1. I never knew she made movies as an adult, I’ve only seen her as a child star. My most favorite movie of hers is Little Princess, second best is Heidi 🙂 I was always a fan of hers as a wee boy, I’m getting to know more about her as an adult. Thanks for this article,it’s wonderful

    Reply
    • She only made movies for a short while as an adult, but many of them are actually really good! They’re definitely worth checking out. I agree, Little Princess and Heidi are two of the best! Anyway, thank you very much. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

      Reply

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