VIA| Shirley Temple was one of the biggest—not to mention youngest—movie icons in history. Her roles as the singing and dancing little girl are beloved, as is the little girl, once known as America’s sweetheart.
But she acted and sang in an era in which movies were mostly be black and white. Technicolor debuted in 1939, and Shirley Temple’s success came just before that. But thanks to modern technology, some of her performances have been converted to color.
Shirley Temple rose to fame at a harsh time in American history, right as the Great Depression. Her pink, dimpled cheeks and cute smile helped more than a few people forget about their financial troubles.
“Amid the deprivation and despair of the Great Depression, Shirley Temple radiated optimism and plucky good cheer that lifted the spirits of millions and shaped their collective character for generations to come,” John F. Kasson, the author of The Little Girl Who Fought The Great Depression writes.
Temple finally retired at the age of 22 in 1950, having had most of her success as a very young girl. She had more movies by the age of 22 than most actresses make in their lifetimes. She passed away in California in 2014, at the ripe old age of 86. She left a legacy of joy and happiness, and to many people she represented the American spirit.
Watch the American icon sing “When I grow up,” and try not to tear up.