"And So We Raise a Glass of Grenadine and Ginger Ale..."
Shirley Temple broke into the movies at 4. She became Hollywood's biggest star at 7. As a box-office draw, she was done by 13.
On Wednesday, she turns 80.
Doing the math, subtract 13 from 80, carry the one...
Temple has basically been a former child star for 67 years.
That's a very long time if all you're going to be is a former child star, waiting for the next reality series gig or How I Met Your Mother cameo.
In the 1940s, when Temple's career hit the skids, there was no VH1 to fall back on. She had to make it up as she went along. And along the way, she married young, had a kid young and divorced young. It's not accurate to say that by 1949 she was Britney Spears. But few would have predicted that by 1974 she would be the U.S. ambassador to Ghana.
In retrospect, the best career move Temple made was not making a career move. After she remarried in 1950, Temple never again made a film. Outside a children's show she hosted beginning in the late 1950s, she never again worked on camera. Hollywood had quit her, and she, in turn, had quit Hollywood.
If you gotta go, it's a good way to go. And it's a healthy way to spend 67 years.
UPDATE (4-22-08): Temple is nursing a broken arm, suffered at her home last week, Reuters reports. Well, at least, it's not as if the arm "hurts quite a bit."
Well, actually, according to Temple, it is as if the arm "hurts quite a bit."
(Originally published by Joal Ryan on April 22, 2008.)
c. Joal Ryan