Inside the Collection

Goodbye Shirley Temple

Photograph of "Shirley Temple My Book to Color"
“Shirley Temple My Book to Color”, published in 1937 by The Saalfield Publishing Company of Akron, Ohio, USA. Gift of Daphne Kingston, 2012. Powerhouse Museum collection, 2012/5/6.

The popular and timeless child film star, Shirley Temple, has just died at the age of 85. This child’s colouring book is one of the many items of merchandising produced when she was in her prime. For adult and child fans alike, it provided a fascinating sneak peek into Shirley’s glamorous world showing where she worked at the film studio in Hollywood, her home, pet dogs, rabbits and horse, her own pedal car as well as the car her father drove her to work in.

The colouring book belonged to Daphne Kingston of Mackay, Queensland. On a family holiday in Sydney in 1937 Daphne saw beautiful Shirley Temple dolls at a David Jones’ department store. She desperately wanted one but her mother said no, but instead was given this colouring book which she loved and carefully coloured in making sure to keep between the lines. This must have stood her in good stead as in Daphne’s adult life she went on to be an artist and art teacher.

Daphne’s childhood idol, Shirley Temple, was born in 1928, the same year as Daphne, and began her film career at the age of 4 in 1932 rocketing to fame in a few brief years. Her “feel good” films produced in the depth of the Great Depression attempted to bring hope and optimism to the cinema-viewing public to help them forget their worries for a short while. Shirley continued to make films until the age of 12 then only a few more in her teens until retiring from the industry in 1950 at the age of 22. Despite this relatively short film career, Shirley Temple is still fondly remembered almost 65 years after she left the big screen.

Written by Margaret Simpson, Curator, February 2014

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