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Were we really so innocent then?

March 6, 2014

Shirley Temple

My obituary of her from AOdeadpool (click here)

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The appeal of Shirley Temple, child star of such 1930’s Hollywood tripe as Bright Eyes, Curly Top and Heidi waned when she reached puberty. She forged a successful second career as politician and diplomat, married and buried two husbands, became US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, and survived breast cancer by forty years. But she was lucky to escape Hollywood unscathed. Watch any You Tube clip, e.g The good Ship Lollipop (click here). What was going on?

The novelist Graham Greene got the subtext immediately, and in 1938 accused the studio bosses of “procuring Shirley Temple for immoral purposes” and “middle-aged men and clergymen” of getting off on her under-age sexuality. He was successfully sued for his troubles by 20th Century Fox, who managed to convince a judge that he was libelling the actress, rather than her minders. But he was right. The middle-aged men saw it then. We can all see it now. I

Shirley Temple’s youthful flirting
Made her popular with perverts
Now we find it too disturbing
Looking up her miniskirts.

To Graham Green the films were loathsome
But the judge refused his claim.
Thought they were entirely wholesome.
Now he’d hang his head in shame

But she escaped her prurient bosses.
Outlived two husbands, even cancer.
Made her career in political causes.
Topped it off as US ambassador.

Jim Thornton

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