There's only one Shirley Temple

Childhood memories of polka dot dresses and poses

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014
Shirley Piddington
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

PRECIOUS: Shirley Piddington with her Shirley Temple memorabilia.

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Timaru woman Shirley Piddington is mourning the death of former child star Shirley Temple.

Mrs Piddington, 82, has been a lifelong fan, ever since she saw her first Shirley Temple film as a young child in the 1930s.

She said she was saddened to hear of the Baby Take a Bow star's passing in California on Tuesday aged 85.

"I felt very sad; I had followed her with interest and all of the things that have come up in her life.

"She had a good innings, though," Mrs Piddington said.

"I remember President Roosevelt, at the time of the big Depression, made some huge quote that she lit up the screen and took people in a different direction."

Shirley Temple brightened the lives of many during the 1930s Depression and was known for her catchy tunes, curly locks, dimples and dresses.

In later life, she moved into politics.

Mrs Piddington said her cinematic performances were delightful.

"We would always come out smiling and singing. We would have concerts when we were kids and someone was always singing Animal Crackers in My Soup."

Mrs Piddington's relationship of sorts with the iconic actress began in June 1935 when she entered a Shirley Temple lookalike contest. She was one of the eight consolation prize winners.

Six months later she finished second in a national lookalike competition, out of more than 1800 entries, taking home the princely sum of £5 for her efforts, as well as a professional photo shoot and a version of a pink and white dress Shirley Temple wore in one of her movies.

Her mother made a polka dot dress for the competitions, and in one photo Mrs Piddington has her lips pursed in a pose strikingly similar to those which helped make the genuine article famous.

Decades later, every time Mrs Piddington sees anything about the star on television or in print it brings back fond memories.

"For my generation it takes us back to our childhood. I think people were quite proud of her too when she went down the political direction.

"We hadn't had much news of her in recent years; I think she wanted to leave all of that behind."

She doubts there will be another Shirley Temple.

"I think that time is well past. There were quite a few child stars that had quite a following then, but Shirley was the best."

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- The Timaru Herald

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