Shirley Temple – The Teenage Years

By | October 3, 2018

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Formal headshot portrait of actor Shirley Temple wearing a low cut evening dress, posing with flowers. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

We may remember Shirley Temple most for the films she did as a child actress in which she sang, dance, and dimpled her way through life. Shirley Temple was the biggest star of the 1930s, all before she even hit double digits. But like many child stars, Temple’s transition from youthful, childish roles to more mature and challenging one was not an easy one. Movie producers, eager to squeeze every ounce of box office bankability out of the young star, developed roles to showcase a sexier, bubblier teenage Temple but were not able to recapture the magic of Temple’s youthful draw. Let’s take a look at Shirley Temple’s teenage years. 

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Temple in "The Blue Bird"

Shirley Temple Was a Has-Been at Age 12

Shirley Temple, born in 1928, began her entertainment career at age four, and within a few years, she was the biggest box office draw of the decade. She made movie after movie throughout her childhood, including “The Little Princess,” “Curly Top”, “Heidi”, and “Baby, Take a Bow.” But in 1940, at the age of 12, she starred in two flogs in a row, “The Blue Bird” and “Young People”, both for Twentieth Century Fox. Temple was at a weird age…too old to play the childish roles she was used to playing and too young for more mature, teenage roles. Her contract with the studio was terminated and Temple concentrated on being a school girl.