Freeze Frame: Why Shirley Temple retired from acting at the age of 22


It’s not often in Hollywood history that a famous actress reaches the peak of her career at the age of six.

Shirley Temple is a name you’ll probably be quite familiar with – and not just for the non-alcoholic cocktail.

The 1930s child star was the most popular young actress in the world during the Great Depression, with box office hits such as The Little Princess and Bright Eyes.

Temple was truly America’s sweetheart. She made her film debut at the tender age of three in 1943 and by the time she was six, as The Times once reported, she had “achieved worldwide fame no other child had reached”.

READ MORE: Grace Kelly’s final public appearance before swapping Hollywood for royalty

Shirley Temple was wildly popular during the Great Depression. (AP)

READ MORE: The bitter Hollywood feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford

Her adorable blonde ringlets and dimpled cheeks made Temple a major cash grab for production companies in the 1930s.

The young star’s popularity was largely seen as a response to the woes of the Great Depression, as her innocent looks, dancing and singing provided a welcome relief from the real world.

At the height of her fame, before she even turned 12, Temple was reeling in $US50,000 per film, which is the equivalent of around $891,350 in today’s money.

In fact, Temple’s celebrity was so huge, according to US Today, she even rivalled Edward VIII and Franklin D. Roosevelt as the most photographed person in the world at the time.

A famous quote given by Temple in adulthood reveals the sheer extent of her fame. “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six,” she once told a journalist.

“Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”

Shirley Temple
Temple’s last-ever film appearance was in A Kiss for Corliss in 1949. (Getty)

READ MORE: The Elvis Presley photo that broke the world’s heart

After a string of box office hits (she starred in 29 films between the ages three and 10) Temple’s parents decided their daughter needed to step back and return to school at age 12.

Her mother and father “bought out” the remainder of the child star’s contract at Twentieth Century Fox and sent her to an exclusive school in Los Angeles.

Following a two-year hiatus, Temple was later signed by MGM for her Hollywood comeback after a stint at a day-boarding school, but she failed to drum up the same success for her films in the 1940s.

The woman who left the screen at 22, saying she had ‘had enough of pretend’, [left] a considerable mark on the real world.

Between the ages of 14 and 21, Temple only appeared in 14 films – a sharp decline from the string of hit movies she produced as a child.

Fan interest in Temple had started to wane. She was no longer the rosy-cheeked, curly-haired toddler. Now, she was a woman.

Temple, perhaps sensing the audience’s apathy, decided to formally retire from Hollywood at the age of 22.

Shirley Temple. (Getty)
Temple starred in dozens of movies as a child. (Getty)

READ MORE: The tragedy that tore apart River and Joaquin Phoenix

Though she was young, the film star had already clocked almost two decades in the industry.

In 1949, Temple made her last feature film, A Kiss for Corliss, at the age of 21. She played the eponymous character Corliss Archer.

The film was reportedly a box office flop, despite the fact it was Temple’s final swansong in Tinseltown.

After retiring, the ex-child star married Charles Alden Black in 1950 and became involved in US politics.

Temple was known as a prominent Republican fundraiser and went on to enjoy a fruitful career as an ambassador.

It was a surprise career U-turn for the once-famous actress, who went on to become known as the ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976.

She was later appointed as President George H. W. Bush’s ambassador to then-Czechoslovakia in 1989, serving during the decline of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Super-cute child star
The dimple-cheeked, curly-haired star was more famous than the US President.

READ MORE: Just 18 months after this wedding snap, Sharon Tate was dead

While she never returned to the big screen, Temple tried her hand at television hosting in the 1950s and hosted an awards show in 1999.

“I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award. Start early,” she said on-stage in 2006 when she was honoured by the Screen Actors Guild.

In 2014, Temple died at the age of 85 from lung disease. In tributes, she was lauded for both her precocity on the screen and talents as a diplomat. 

“Although she may always be best remembered as America’s sweetheart, the woman who left the screen at 22 saying she had ‘had enough of pretend’ ended up leaving a considerable mark on the real world,” wrote journalist Susan Ragan.

For a daily dose of 9Honey, subscribe to our newsletter here

Old Hollywood mysteries

Old Hollywood crimes, murders and mysteries


Source link

Related posts

Olivia Wilde gives fiery speech hours after hitting back at former nanny’s allegations about Jason Sudeikis split

Charles Sylva

NCIS cast then and now: All the characters who have left and what the actors are doing now including Pauley Perrette and Mark Harmon

Charles Sylva

MTV VMAs 2022: Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith gives emotional tribute to Taylor Hawkins: ‘I miss him every day’

Charles Sylva