GOODBYE CURLY TOP
Sheryl J. Bize Boutte
February 11, 2014
By the time I saw my first Shirley Temple movie, she had been in the business for almost twenty years. Starting out as the child star who brought smiles to beleaguered Americans still trying to recover from the Great Depression, she began a new life in, what were by then, old movies for baby boomers like me.
The little girls I knew in the 1950’s did not see Shirley Temple as a relief or distraction; we saw her as one of our first icons of girlhood. She was well spoken, smart, inquisitive, and talented. All the things a girl should be. She set the tone for us and we followed suit. She was on screen proof that asking questions of adults was not taboo and that curiosity was a way to learn and solve problems. Even if we did not process it quite that way at the time, it left an imprint along with other things we carried into adulthood.
It was Shirley who set our little girl fashion trends with the swirly dresses, coveralls and little cardigans. It was Shirley who made us request Campbell’s tomato soup with animal crackers on a regular basis. It was Shirley who made me beg my parents for tap shoes until they gave in. I could not dance a lick, but I remember my father’s best friend Smitty dancing with me up and down the three steps to our front porch just like Shirley did with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
But the most endearing memory was her hairstyle. Those “Shirley Temple Curls” would be why we called her “Curly Top” and they would be emulated in many forms from the time we first saw them, to this day. This is me at age four with my mother’s version of the famous coif.
So it is with the same smile that I wish you safe passage, Curly Top.
Rest well, my friend.