Yes, the adorable, curly-haired ragamuffin who stole the hearts of America and the world during the Great Depression turns 84-years-young today! Shirley was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California, to George and Gertrude Temple. It was her mother who encouraged Shirley to become a performer by exposing her to classical music and dance at a very early age.
Shirley had her first movie role at the tender age of five, when she co-starred in the 1933 comedy Stand Up & Cheer. Her charm and appeal to an audience suffering through the Depression was obvious, and movie executives were soon courting the little star. Her following role, in 1934's Bright Eyes, featured the adorable tyke singing her signature tune, "On the Good Ship Lollipop".
Shirley would go on to make a total of 43 films, and she received an Juvenile Academy Award for her acting efforts. She would retire from the movie industry in 1950, at the age of twenty-two. She would go on to pursue a career in politics, running unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1967 and serving as ambassadors to Ghana and Czechoslovakia during the 1970s and 80s.
She published her autobiography, Child Star, in 1988, detailing her amazing experiences working on movie sets as a young girl and meeting practically all of the Hollywood royalty of the day. By all accounts, she is living a quiet, unassuming life now at her home in Santa Monica, and she rarely makes public appearances these days.
If you have ever spent a snowy or rainy Sunday afternoon watching an old Shirley Temple movie that made you smile, take a moment to wish her a very Happy Birthday!