Farewell, Most Innocent Smile in Hollywood
Art Exchange VOL.01/2014|陈森

   

Shirley Temple

She is a treasure sent to the Earth by God and a curling angel doted by the whole world. She is bliss because she never turns old. However, probably as God needs the company of his angel, on February 10 local time in USA, she passed away at the age of 85. She is the reputable child star in the Hollywood, Shirley Temple. 

As an influential celebrity over several generations, Shirley Temple seems to be a global topic always in her films, marriage and political engagement. Just talk to your friends or elder generations about this name, and you will realize how extensive her influence has been indeed. In my recollection, a composition of mine was once read aloud in class as a sample titled with “My Dream”, and I dreamt to be as adorable as Shirley Temple. Though my then idea was a reflection of my childhood, it also indicated that being a girl like Shirley Temple is just a dream far beyond reach of most ordinary people. 

Shirley Temple was great not merely in the global popularity. As the hottest star in the Hollywood in the 1930s, her character of innocence and cute expressions became a legend at that period. Her charming smile and blond curling hair was her natural trademark and her tender shoulders and cozy appearance brought a ray of sunlight against the economic recession in USA. More than half a century has passed, but people still call her “little angel”. We still have a clear memory about her classical tap dance in the film The Littlest Rebel and Dancer Robinson praised “Her heart leads her every footstep”, which describes her path of life as well. 

Born in 1928, Shirley Temple had her premier acting in short films presented by Educational Pictures at the early age of 4. Two years later, she contracted with 20th Century Fox and took up her first feature film Stand Up and Cheer. She fully demonstrated her acting talent in the film Little Miss Mark and gained reputation from the film Baby, Take a Bow. In this year, Shirley participated in 9 films and won a miniature of Oscar at Academy Awards of the following year as recognition of the joy she had brought to American audiences. 

Owing to the long distance in time, the current viewers can hardly have the opportunity to see Shirley Temple’s films. As to the elder viewers, though they might forget about the plot, Shirley Temple’s optimism, leadership and youthful vitality are still deep in their mind. In her films, no matter how difficult a situation she had to face, she would choose others’ happiness as her priority. At that time, the rigid educational atmosphere made parents a serious image without sufficient affection while the occurrence of Shirley Temple drew the relationship between parents and children closer. The dolls resembling Shirley Temple witnessed an increase of one third and mothers preferred to decorate their daughters in similar way just because Shirley Temple was considered to be an ideal. 

Compared to her films, the social change brought by Shirley Temple was far more notable. Often acting as an orphan in the screen, Shirley Temple was a smart demure kid in real life. She tried to bring a torn-apart family together and acted as matchmaker for potential couples. At that harsh time, she was an American Sweetheart in people’s eyes. Her films often gave a sidelight of the current time, which aroused great sympathy among American audiences suffering from the Great Recession. 

Probably as her image of an adorable girl had become the stereotype in most people’s hearts, it seemed almost impossible for the global audiences to accept an adult Shirley Temple. At the age of 21, Shirley Temple made a wise retirement from the film circle though most youngsters just started their journey to become a superstar in the Holly wood at similar age. From then on, she led a peaceful and happy life in her household until 1960s when she reappeared in the public focus as a spokeswoman and active stateswoman of the Republicans. In 1969, she became a representative of USA in the United Nations and American Ambassador to Ghana in 1974. Two years later, she was appointed Chief of Protocol, the first female one of the United States. Outside the screen, Shirley Temple still led a successful life and was commonly regarded as “a first-class stateswoman”. Politicians are actually actors and actresses. Don’t you think so?” she once said humorously. 

Full of legends all her life, Shirley Temple has been a top representative to illustrate the definition of “elegance”. During her life, she just did what she was supposed to do without slugging or hesitation. She began to raise herself without financial problems at an early age of 4. Married at 17 and get an immediate divorce upon realizing her ex-husband’s bad nature at the age of 21. One year later, she met her Mr. Right and they fell in half a century’s love with each other. It seems that she never gets angry, always ready to accept everything life gives her and courageous enough to embrace life. Some critics blamed her mother for depriving her of some rights as a kid and taking advantage of such a little girl under the limelight. By contrast, Shirley Temple always attributes her success to her mother and told the press that it was happiness to realize her mother’s wish. In the meanwhile, she would defend justice in a bold way and persist with her ideal for films. In 1966, she resigned from the executive committee of San Francisco International Film Festival as a protest against the Swiss film Night Entertainment because she believed that this film “profited totally from pornography” and “degraded the professional morals of film”. In her childhood, she practiced dance and learning the plot by heart every day, and she has been keeping herself from bad habits all her life long. There seems to be a spirit of self-discipline in Shirley’s mentality, which might originate from her extraordinary self-confidence. 

However, the audiences and the world are always forgettable to the old especially when in fond of the new, as their attention is always diverted to those new-born stars and latest film production. To those who care hardly for politics, charity and diplomacy, Shirley Temple seems to have gone for six or seven decades. The news of her death today reminded them that this little angel was still living like them. Viewing all those old photos of Shirley Temple’s films, audiences were brought into the retrospect of their past time. For such a film star as Shirley Temple, it is quite a superb honor to represent a period in the history alone. As a stateswoman, diplomat and charitable activist, she could not have attained a better result than her contribution to the people’s welfare in USA and even all over the world. 

After Shirley Temple passed away, her family once said in a statement, “She was once an actress and a diplomat. However, we admire her outstanding achievement in being our dear wife, mother, grandmother and mother of grandparents”. Many celebrities in the Hollywood and net citizens expressed their mourning in the social networks. “It is amazing to retrospect all her films and she is just part of film history” George Clooney commented while the black actress Whoopi Goldberg quoted the film song On the Good Ship Lollipop by Shirley Temple, “getting on this good ship Lollipop, Shirley Temple starts her voyage to Heaven.

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