The little girl who led the movie-star popularity list during the first three of Life’s 10 years spent most of the decade worrying about growing up.
For Shirley Temple, maturity was a bugaboo — not the impatiently awaited for time for long dresses and grown-up parties, but a time when her charm and ability would lose their greatest asset: precocity.
By 1940, Shirley had lost her position as 20th Century-Fox’s greatest star and, with it, the $300,000 per annum she had earned while saving the company from bankruptcy.
With anxiety, her parents, producers and most of the nation watched Shirley mature. Each change was faithfully recorded by the camera. When, at 15, she began to look like a young lady, everyone was relieved to find her still pretty and charming, though a little plump. When she married last year, most Americans felt suddenly older.
Today, as she resumes her acting career, Shirley is back where she was 12 years ago — playing second leads. If she plays them as brilliantly as she did in the days of Stand Up and Cheer and Little Miss Marker, Miss Temple will be a star again.