Late last night, I was sitting on the couch with Jonathan and noticed A Little Princess sitting on my bookshelf, buried amongst the other books I saved from my young years. I suddenly got really excited and burst out to Jonathan with a gasp: “Oh my gosh! In the doctor’s office waiting room last week, they were playing Shirley Temple’s A Little Princess and I was so upset I couldn’t stay and watch it — it’s been years since I’ve seen it! It was always my favorite movie versions of the story and one of her best films.”
I jumped up to grab the book and also pulled Heidi off the shelf, another great adaptation of Shirley’s. I became so nostalgic and began explaining how much I adored her films as a kid, and how much watching them shaped my sister’s and my childhood.
At this point, Jonathan (the graduate student in Film Studies) revealed that he had never seen a single Shirley Temple movie. I was aghast! I vowed to him that I would now be dropping everything to dedicate myself to educating him on one of the most iconic (and adorable) film stars in Hollywood’s history.
Then, this morning, he woke me up with the news that she had passed away…
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she came up in my mind so vividly last night. I grew up watching Shirley Temple; her films are some of my earliest memories. I have my parents to thank for recognizing the value of old movies and trusting that young Millennial minds would have the patience to sit and watch movies that we could never get our young friends to watch with us, but that Kim and I cherished and have continued to cherish as we’ve grown up.
With her passing, I will celebrate by forcing Jonathan to watch whatever movie of hers I can get my hands on. (If you are feeling a similar urge to revisit and remember her, or delve into her work for the first time, may I suggest A Little Princess, Dimples, Bright Eyes, The Little Colonel, or Heidi as great a starting point?)
We’ll also be drinking some Shirley Temple Blacks, because we’re grown ups now, and rum makes most things more enjoyable.
To Shirley: You won us over with your curls and dimples, but kept us watching because of your talent and charisma. You’ve done amazing work for film, and the world as a diplomat, and we have a better Earth because you lived on it.