Shirley Temple Black born Shirley Temple 23 April 1928. She was an actress, singer, dancer of film and television. As an adult she was an ambassador to Ghana and Ciechoslovakia. Her career began in 1932 at age 3 doing talent shows her mother would take her to. Fame was found in 1934 in the film Bright Eyes. She also did Curly Top that same year. Her death on 10 February 2014 at age 85 was mourned around the world. Shirley is not the only child actress to acheive fame and fortune. Mary Pickford was most popular in 1910. The “Our Gang” series in the 1920′s and Judy Garland in the 1930′s and 40′s.
Little Known Facts About Child Stars on Stage
Most folks know about the child stars of motion pictures. A lot of the first child stars appeared on stage. Names like Lotta Crabtree pushed by her mother to let her become an actress to support the family. Two sisters known as Elsie and Jenny were the highest paid Vaudeville headliners in the world. Mary Pickford a child star on stage in the “Warrens of Virgina” in New York in 1906. By 1915 she had become the highest paid female in America. By 1927 she had starred in over 200 films. She protrayed children and teens.
Movie Series of an All Children Cast
In the 1920′s filmmakers started to make series of films with all children casts. The popular one we all remember is “Our Gang” comedy series. Between 1922 and 1929 there were 88 “Our Gang” films. Then there was Jackie Coogan who appeared in Charlie Chaplan’s silent movie “The Kid”. During the 1930′s and especially in 1934 when a musical film “Stand Up and Cheer” with Shirley Temple debuted. During this time every mother or father had a household of imitating Shirley Temples. Across America beautiful baby contests were happening. The prize, a Hollywood screen test. Out of these contests during the 30′s around 100 child actors, singers, and dancers appeared in Hollywood each day. To put this in perspective Hal Roach said he tested 140,000 children when casting for “Our Gang”. Most of these dreams ended in failure. A few stars were born including Elizabeth Taylor, Freddy Barthalomew, Dianna Durbin, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland who starred in The Wizard of Oz in 1939.
Television in the 1950′s Added More Child Stars
Television during the 1950′s brought several young stars to include Jerry Mathers, The Bev in Leave it to Beaver. And Ricky Nelson on the Ossie and Harriet show. All of these child stars also had paid jobs in advertising for large corporations. Also sold toys, clothing and cosmetics.
The Rise and Fall of Child Stars.
The rise of these child stars was intriguing. Their decline was shattering like a crystal wine glass hitting the floor. Judy Garland’s fall started when she read about her friend Jackie Coogan’s troubles. Coogan was in a law suit against his parents over control of the money he made as a child star. Coogan battled alcoholism in his adult life. Judy became more and more depressed and died of an overdose. And Rooney declared bankruptcy after several failed marriages. A lot of these childrens’ fame became a curse. Too much too soon.
Child Stars of Today
The national news of the 1980′s was about scandals of the child stars. These scandals involed drug addiction, alcoholism and parent custody battles as with McCauley Kulkin, star of Home Alone. In 1996 the murder of 6 year old Jon Benet Ramsey brought the child’s stardom to light. She won many child beauty contest. She was photographed wearing lipstick and rouge. The public was stunned. The sexualization of child stars was further raised with singer Britney Spears and others who played sexually charged roles in films. In America as long as there are movies, stage, entertainment and television there will be children as it was in the beginning so shall it be in the end.
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