Tag Archives: Shirley Temple

Classic Hollywood #58 – Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple Does A Long Distance Interview 1935

“Miss Temple, Please!! London Calling”

Hollywood, Calif – Pictured between scenes during her recent picture, “The Littlest Rebel,” Shirley Temple, tiny 20th Century-Fox Star is interviewed by The London Illustrated News over trans-Atlantic telephone. 11-21-35 International News Photos

When 20th Century-Fox signed Shirley Temple to a contact in December of 1933 they were on the brink of bankruptcy, $44 million in debt. By 1934 Fox was out of bankruptcy, due almost single handedly to Temple who would go on to become the world’s number one box office star. Through the 1930s, Shirley Temple’s films earned more money for 20th Century-Fox than any of their other stars.

There  was the long held belief that Shirley Temple was the first choice to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). This is only partially true.

If Fox studio chief Daryl F Zanuck had acquired the rights to the film the story, Temple almost certainly would have been the first choice to play Dorothy. But independent producer Samuel Goldwyn had acquired the Wizard of Oz’s film rights. In 1938 Goldwyn sold those right to MGM, not to Fox.

Fox discussed loaning out Temple to MGM to make the film. In exchange MGM would loan out Clark Gable, their biggest star to Fox. But MGM producer Mervyn LeRoy thought Judy Garland, with her superior singing voice, would be the better choice for Dorothy than Temple. Continue reading

The Little Girl Harpo Marx Was “Crazy About”

Harpo Marx Loved A Little Visitor To The Set So Much, He Seriously Wanted To Buy Her

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming  of Duck Soup 1933

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming of Duck Soup 1933

Maybe today this would be considered kind of creepy, but anyone who knew Harpo Marx would have said it was not, because it was “so Harpo-like.”

The story sounds apocryphal, but according to Groucho Marx as told to Richard Anobile in The Marx Brothers Scrapbook it is true.

In the midst of the Great Depression during the production of the Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers in 1932, Harpo Marx would see this adorable girl who was about four-years-old along with her parents watching the Marx’s work on the set. During breaks in the filming, Harpo starting talking to the child and her parents. Groucho says, “Harpo was crazy about this girl.” He became so enchanted with this little girl, that he offered to adopt her and give her parents $50,000 as compensation.  They of course refused.

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

This all happened before the little girl was in a single film and would go on to become the biggest child movie star of all-time – Shirley Temple.

The photograph at the top of this article was taken a year after Harpo’s offer. By that time, Shirley Temple had still not made a feature film, but appeared in many ten minute shorts. Shirley was just beginning to become known to the public when she revisited Harpo while in the studio commissary.

Shirley Temple died in Woodside, CA, Monday February 10, 2014 of natural causes. She retired from motion pictures at the age of 21 in 1949. Shirley was happily married for 55 years to Charles Black. She became a United States ambassador and by all accounts had a very happy and fulfilling life.

Because Harpo’s wife Susan Fleming was unable to have children, Harpo did eventually adopt four children who all say he was the most wonderful father in the world.

Jackie Cooper, Movie Star For Over 60 Years Is Dead

Jackie Cooper Dies At 88

Jackie Cooper passed away last week at the age of 88. Cooper who rose to prominence in the Hal Roach produced Our Gang (a.k.a. the Little Rascals) movie shorts, was one of the last remaining movie stars who worked during Hollywood’s golden era of the 1930’s.

Jackie Cooper (left) Love Business 1931

The Our Gang / Little Rascals remaining cast is now down to under a dozen stars.  The other living supporting players made brief appearances, many in the later films of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s after creator Hal Roach had sold the franchise to MGM. The most notable living star of those later Our Gang comedies is Robert Blake.  I grew up watching Cooper star in Our Gang and his passing is sad, as he was a gifted actor and it is a reminder of how few of the early Hollywood stars remain. Unlike his more popular and well known successors as leads in Our Gang, George “Spanky” McFarland and Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, Cooper was cast in several big budget Hollywood productions and was almost always very good in whatever he was in.

Jackie Cooper was a rarity, in that very few Continue reading