a little optimism died today


Well.shirley temple colnel


A little optimism died yesterday.

A little bit of that bedrock of hope & optimism was chipped away.


Shirley Temple died.


“People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog, Rin Tin Tin, and a little girl.” – Shirley Temple Black


I am old … but not old enough to remember anything but watching reruns of her movies on TV when growing up.

And I admit … I still go out of my way to watch her movies if I come across them on TV even today.

To me … her movies are dated … but still timeless.

The spunky precocious little girl in an adult world sparked hope & optimism & … well … being better. Better as people … better in society … just better.


The popularity of Shirley Temple during the Depression and the importance she had for Americans is difficult to imagine.


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaking in 1935, praised Shirley:


During this Depression, when the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie, look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.


In her movies she reforms adults … their behavior or their attitudes or both. She makes them better.

She is a maternal miniature adult.

She dominates adults around her and solves their problems with unbounded optimism and common sense.


And of course the music and a tap dance with partners including George Murphy, Jack Haley and Buddy Ebsen with her most famous dance partner shirley bojangles400<and movie scene> with the legendary African-American entertainer Bill (Bojangles) Robinson.

That staircase dance scene in The Little Colonel is still amazing even today <some 80 years ago>.

And she may have been the first white actress allowed to hold hands affectionately with a black man on screen.


She was a natural in front of the cameras.

Apparently the usually unflappable Adolphe Menjou, her co-star in her first big hit, “Little Miss Marker,” described her as “an Ethel Barrymore at 6” and said she was “making a stooge out of me.”


She was often imitated but I don’t believe she was ever duplicated.

Truly a one of a kind child star.



Maybe she was a one of a kind woman. Or maybe she had a one of a kind character.


I respected her. I respected her character and I respected her as a person. As did the love of her life … her husband:


 “Over 38 years I have participated in her life 24 hours a day through thick and thin, traumatic situations, exultant situations, and I feel she has only one personality. She would be catastrophic for the psychiatric profession. You can wake her up in the middle of the night and she has the same personality everybody knows. What everybody has seen for 60 years is the bedrock.” – Charles Alden Black <her husband for over 50 years>


I tend to believe she was a bedrock of optimism.

Maybe hope.


But most of all she was consistent. Consistently bedrock for what we would consider good & true.


Shirley Temple died at her home in California at the age of 85.


Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that I tend to believe no other child has reached … and later raised a family and become active in politics and became a well-respected diplomat including ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the historic collapse of communism in 1989.




I know what I am writing dates me.

But I am okay with that.


And I am okay with saying that if some tv station plays Little Colonel today I will sit down and watch it one more time.


If only to remember optimism & hope.

Written by Bruce