Shirley Temple will forever be associated with sweetness, her cute songs, and dance, as well as the song “Good Ship Lollipop” but is there a darker side to America’s most famous child starlet?
Many people believe that Shirley Temple was surrounded by pedophiles and have gone so far to say her early movie roles from the 1930s were little more than fodder for perverts. Shirley Temple wrote an autobiography Child Star where she described several instances of sexual harassment at the hands of Hollywood studio heads.
Corey Feldman said in an interview that the biggest problem in Hollywood is now and always has been pedophilia. You may watch that interview where he made that quote in the video player below.
“I can tell you the number one problem in Hollywood was, and is, and always will be, pedophilia. That’s the biggest problem in this industry. I was surrounded by them when I was 14-years-old; literally surrounded. Didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize what they were, what they wanted, and what they were about, and the types of people who were around me. . . they were like vultures.”
If pedophiles were behind Shirley Temple’s early films, then that would indicate that Hollywood has always been an unsafe and dangerous place for children.
Feldman shares many similarities with Shirley Temple as the two entered show business at the age of three-years-old, encountered pedophiles, and ended up without access to the millions they earned through their work.
Born in 1928, Shirley Temple was enrolled at the Meglin’s Dance School in 1931, and at the tender age of three-years-old, was scouted by Charles Lamont for Educational Pictures. Shirley Temple would then star in eight, one-reel movies called Baby Burlesks for Lamont and Jack Hays.
Baby Burlesks were parodies of adult films and featured preschool children between the ages of three and five years old acting out adult scenes with highly overt sexual tones.
You may see the Lamont produced movie Kids in Hollywood below where Shirley Temple stars as Morelegs Sweetrick. The movie was released in 1933. After her time with Educational Pictures, Shirley signed a contract with Fox Studios.
While Shirley Temple was undoubtedly a child prodigy who earned recognition for only needing one take to film her scenes, Shirley later revealed disturbing details about the process used to commence filming.
According to Shirley, the preschool children were separated from their parents and if anyone acted up, they would be placed in a black box equipped with a block of ice. The door to the box would be closed and the child would be left to freeze in total darkness.
You may watch Shirley Temple in War Babies, one of the earliest Baby Burlesk films, along with an interview where she described the black box with ice in the videos below.
Conspiracy theorists have linked Shirley Temple to the long-standing rumors of Hollywood pedophile rings and many people in the 21st century find many of Temple’s early films disturbing.
Some have pointed out that Shirley Temple was often motherless in her films or an orphan who would be adopted by a single man. Many of her famous songs and dance routines were performed with adult men as well.
While Shirley Temple quickly rose to fame and became the top star in America, there were a few people who took issue with the context of her movies.
Novelist and film critic Graham Greene was sued by Fox Studios when he reviewed Wee Willie Winkie and pointed out Temple’s overt flirtatious behavior throughout the film.
“Watch her swaggering stride across the Indian barrack-square: hear the gasp of excited expectation from her antique audience when the sergeant’s palm is raised: watch the way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity. Adult emotions of love and grief glissade across the mask of childhood, a childhood skin-deep. “
Greene was quick to note that Shirley Temple’s biggest fans were middle-aged men and clergymen who could satisfy their perverse desires watching Shirley on screen.
The review was discussed in a Slate article following Shirley Temple Black’s published obituary in 2014.
That won't ever beat Graham Greene successfully being sued for libel for his remarks on Shirley Temple, though. https://t.co/ZtzU0h9084
— Vetarnias (@Vetarnias) June 3, 2017
It’s impossible to know for sure what sexual abuse, or if any occurred during the Baby Burlesks filming, but there was definitely physical and emotional abuse.
Some would argue today that the content of the films is highly disturbing, inappropriate, and appeals to pedophiles.
While Shirley Temple was credited with surviving Hollywood virtually unscathed, she did share a disturbing account of sexual harassment and abuse that occurred to her when being considered for the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
Fox wouldn’t loan Shirley Temple to MGM and the role ultimately went to Judy Garland.
You may fast forward to 12:20 where Shirley Temple Black discusses how MGM producer Arthur Freed exposed himself to her when she was 12-years-old.
What do you think? Do you feel that Hollywood’s history with pedophilia dates back to the 30s when Shirley Temple was cast in the Baby Burlesks?
Do you find the movies disturbing? Do you think Shirley Temple was surrounded by pedophiles? Is it possible that Corey Feldman is right that Hollywood’s biggest problem always has been and always will be pedophilia?