OP-ED: Goodbye Shirley Temple -- 'The Littlest Rebel'

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.

The Golden Age of Hollywood is but a wonderful memory, and….The motion picture capital of the world Hollywood, California as well as the rest of America and the world are a little poorer with the loss of so many great American and foreign actors -- including the recent deaths of Ralph Waite who played the father on the long running CBS TV family classic hit “The Waltons” and the sweetheart of the silver screen “The Littlest Rebel” Shirley Temple.

Shirley Temple and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
Shirley Temple and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson


Do you remember when….

We flocked to the movies to see our favorite actors that included child stars like  Shirley Temple, Margaret O’Brien, Jackie Cooper, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Roddy McDowall and Elizabeth Taylor,  whose movies through the magic of television are still enjoyed by new generations of movie lovers?

The movie “Lassie Come Home” with McDowall and Taylor is a tear jerker and….

Shirley Temple made us laugh and cry in such memorable movies like “The Littlest Rebel” where she gets a rise out of Union Commander Colonel Morrison by wearing a Confederate cap and singing Dixie.

Later in the movie after Morrison tries to help her and her father and Shirley tells him “You're nice enough to be a Confederate”!

And, who can ever forget the wonderful dancing team of Miss Shirley Temple and Mr. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in movies like: “The Littlest Rebel”, “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and “The Little Colonel.” In the “Little Colonel” Shirley stars alongside legendary Lionel Barrymore who plays a stubborn but proud Old Kentucky Colonel. The movie was made in black and white except for the ending that was photographed in “Technicolor” with the band playing Dixie.

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a wonderful time with great actors like: Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford, but….

A cute-curly haired little girl with an beautiful smile would beat them all at the box office during the Depression Era of 1935 and 1938 and was credited for helping save 20th Century-Fox from bankruptcy with such films as “Curly Top” and “The Littlest Rebel.”

Shirley Temple, little dimple face, who stole the hearts of movie goers, has sadly died at age 85.

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranking of the top 50 screen legends ranked Shirley Temple at No. 18 among the 25 actresses. 

In 1934, Shirley starred in "Little Miss Marker," and in "Bright Eyes," Temple introduced "On the Good Ship Lollipop" that also starred Jane Withers that helped Withers on her way to also become a big child star.

Shirley Temple was an actor, a diplomat, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and wife for fifty-five years to the late Charles Alden Black.

America and indeed the whole world misses you,  Miss Shirley Temple. During these crazy times we could use a dose of Mickey Rooney, Margaret O’Brien and Miss Shirley Temple to make our day a just a little brighter.

God bless those grand ole stars of yesterday!

Calvin E. Johnson Jr.
Calvin E. Johnson Jr.

Johnson is a speaker, writer of short stories, author of book “When America stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the National and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month committee. http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth. He lives in Kennesaw, GA, outside Atlanta.



Comments powered by Disqus