During the bleak years of the Great Depression, the lovable Shirley Temple became a symbol of happiness and hope for audiences around the world. In 1934, 20th Century Fox film songwriter Jay Gorney was taken with the dimpled, flaxen-haired star of a short film that preceded the feature at a local Los Angeles theater. As he was leaving, Gorney was surprised to recognize Temple and her family at the same theater, and soon the young actress was signing her first contract with Fox. By the end of the year, Temple would be featured in seven films, and would become the top-grossing box office star in the world.

Meanwhile, the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company approached the Temple family with its Shirley Temple doll concept, and sculptor Bernard Lipfert was tasked to create its unique mold. After seeing more than 20 variations, both the Temple family and Ideal’s staff were satisfied, and the first composition Shirley Temple doll was created.

The earliest prototype was made from composition with three different wig options—red, blond, and brunette. A more generic version of the doll was also marketed without using Temple’s last name. In October of 1934, Ideal applied for a patent, and the Shirley Temple doll was officially announced in an issue of the retail industry magazine “Playthings.”

The updated design came in four sizes, with hazel eyes and curly, strawberry-blonde hair. The product’s only marking read “COP IDEAL N&T Co.” which was imprinted on the back of the doll’s head. Shirley Temple dolls came complete with a polka-dotted dress like the one she wore in “Stand Up and Cheer,” along with an official tag and celluloid button.

At $3.00 each, even the smallest Shirley Temple dolls weren’t cheap. Yet the toys were a hit, and soon Ideal commissioned designer Mollye Goldman to create a variety of outfits based on Temple’s film roles. Shirley Temple fans soon had an assortment of organdy dresses to choose from, many in cute sailor striped or polka-dotted styles.

These mini-versions of the child star quickly became Ideal’s best-selling product, and were made in nine different sizes. Other companies created knockoffs and found creative ways to skirt copyright law. Beginning with its “Little Colonel” doll, Madame Alexander purchased the rights to the books on which Temple’s films were based and marketed their dolls using these titles.

Over the years, Ideal modified its product, slimming the face mold, altering her coloration, and embossing the Shirley Temple name on both its body and head. Extensive lines of c...

After a nearly 20-year hiatus, the company released a slightly more grown-up Shirley Temple doll made from vinyl in 1957. Temple became closely involved with the production and promotion of Ideal’s new series, and two years later helped launch its first “Shirley Temple Playpal” doll, which was a full three feet in height.

In 1960, the first Shirley Temple Collectors Club was established. From the '60s through the '80s, new Shirley Temple dolls were regularly distributed by companies like Montgomery Ward and the Danbury Mint, aimed primarily at nostalgic adult collectors.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Lorettas Shirley Temple Dolls

Lorettas Shirley Temple Dolls

Loretta McKenzie's tribute to the charming, singing, dancing, curly haired Shirley Temple. Click 'My Dolls' on the … [read review or visit site]

Dollreference.com

Dollreference.com

This densely packed index of antique and vintage dolls claims to offer over 10,000 images of dolls from the 1800s … [read review or visit site]

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

If you're a Steve McQueen fan, this site can't be beat. Roger Harris has put together a definitive collection of Mc… [read review or visit site]

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

If you're the type who likes watching the titles and credits at the beginning of movies, you'll love this site. Ste… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Rhonda Wilson's collection of 1950s dolls, organized by name (Ginny and friends, Littlest Angel and friends, etc.) … [read review or visit site]

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylee's extensive collection of vintage dolls from the 1930s to 90s. Click the balloons to browse. Though Kaylee s… [read review or visit site]

Cinema Treasures

Cinema Treasures

This user-contributed database of classic movie theaters currently lists over 17,000 theaters worldwide. Browse by … [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Dave Mackey's filmography and title card gallery for 35 years of Warner Bros. cartoons. Browsable by year or alphab… [read review or visit site]

Steves Disney Collection

Steves Disney Collection

Steve Lee’s large collection of original Disney art: pencil drawings from animated features produced during W… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

13" Shirley Temple 1930's Composition Doll/box All OriginalAdorable Antique Composition/cloth Ideal 16" Shirley Temple Baby Doll1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Curly Top Big 24" Composition Beauty!Antique Original 20" Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Composition Button Vintage DressShirley Temple Ideal Doll Marked St-17-1 With Bag & Original Box20" Baby Shirley Temple Original Tagged Outfit22" Antique 1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll W/ Orig Dress Ideal ToyVintage Ideal Patty Playpal W/ Short, Shirley Temple Curls & Green DressVintage 1950's Ideal 12" Shirley Temple Doll With Trunk Of Mama Made Clothes16" Composition Shirley Temple Doll All Original With Rare Dress & Clear EyesAntique 13'' Shirley Temple Composition Doll Super Cond.1950's Ideal Shirley Temple Doll With Trunk And ClothesRare 26" Shirley Temple Composition 1930s W Original Box As Found- For Resto Vintage All Original Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll 22 W Nra Tagged DressReproduction Composition Shirley Temple Doll 18 Inches 1983Vintage Shirley Temple Doll By Ideal 19 InchesShirley Temple Doll Ideal St-12 Clothes Shoes Sleep Eyes Teeth Hair With Net On2001 Signed Shirley Temple Easton Press Collector Edition Gilt Red Morocco Star27 Inch Composition Shirley Temple Doll Reproduction Outfits5 Lbs Vintage 1930s 40s Shirley Temple Scrapbook Items Saalfield No 1714 PhotosGreatoriginal Shirley Temple Baby Takes A Bow?27 " Flirty-eyed Composition Shirley Temple In Original "texas Ranger" Outfit!Vintage Estate Composition Shirley Temple Doll 1938 Antique Ideal 20" Shoes Shirley Temple Doll Blue And White Dress With Tags1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Doll 18" On Rollerskates In Original Tagged Jumpsuit!Vintage Shirley Temple Doll With DressOriginal Oil Cloth Snap Shoes For 13" Composition Shirley Temple DollVintage 1950's Ideal 12" Vinyl Shirley Temple Doll1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Doll 18" Stand Up And Cheer In Orig. Tagged Dress!Two Effanbee Compo Patsy's And One Ideal Shirley Temple Body For PartsShirley Temple Dress Up Doll Danbury MintShirley Temple & Santa Claus 1937 Look Magazine Clara Bow, Kkk, Life Of ChristUnmarked All Composition 19" Doll Shirley Temple Look AlikeShirley Temple Dolls(11) And Danbury Mint Dress Up Doll Outfits(8 Never Opened) Shirley Temple Costume, Halloween, Pageant, Girls Size 6, Red/white Dress/hat Shirley Temple DressesBig Little Book Blb Lot Of 3 Mickey Mouse Ka Yo Others Shirley Temple Treasure IHuge Lot 200+ Vintage Paper Dolls And Hundreds Outfits Shirley Temple Movie StarShirley Temple DollFour! Vintage Danbury Mint Porcelain Shirley Temple DollsVintage Shirley Temple Doll With DressVintage Composition Shirley Temple Look A Like Doll All In Pink OriginalDanbury Mint " Shirley Temple Doll" Baby Take A Bow " Elke Hutchens Serial E17671930's Shirley Temple Cinderella Coach Frock Hang Tag Book Frame1935 Shirley Temple Carreras Famous Film Stars # 44 Psa 7 Pop 1/2 One Higher { X } Antique Composition 16" Shirley Temple Made By Ideal Doll Co. Usa 1930'sShirley Temple Porcelain Doll Collection- Rare & Adorable Dolls! Antique Shirley Temple Circa 1930 22" Doll Red Dress Composition Body One Owner8" Vogue Modern Ginny Miss 1930's Too 2nd Edition Shirley Temple Curls Nrfb4 Shirley Temple Movie Magzs, 1937 - 39; Garbo, Wizard Of Oz, Deanna Durbin ++Danbury Mint Shirley Temple "stowaway" DollVintage 1935 Orig 13" Shirley Temple Doll Clothes Pattern 355June 1936 Hollywood Magazine - Shirley Temple With Flowers CoverDanbury Mint Shirley Temple Flower Girl 17" Porcelain DollDarling 1957 Ideal St 12 Shirley Temple Doll With Extras 1948 3-record Set/ Shirley Temple/ Walt Disney Bambi/ Rca Victor/ Youth/ 78 RpmShirley Temple Danbury Mint Sailor Girls Dolls - Two Of A Kind CollectionVintage Girls Cinderella Inspired By Shirley TempleShirley Temple Doll "stand Up And Cheer" - Dolls Of The Silver Screen Vintage Bisque Shirley Temple Doll 16"

Recent News: Shirley Temple Dolls

Source: Google News

Estate Sale Roundup: October 17-19: The weather is perfect for rummaging
Austin Chronicle, October 17th

Southwestern Louisiana Institute "L'Acadian" 1947-49 yearbooks and other books; vintage Underwood typewriter; Targus briefcase, Targus laptop case; CD's, board games and playing cards; Shirley Temple doll with pinback and other vintage dolls and...Read more

Seniors have wishes granted, dance to Jazz Band at Magnolia Ball on Oct. 5
Marietta Daily Journal, October 16th

The Johnson Ferry Jazz Band, directed by Dr. Brian Hedrick, played Big Band favorites, such as “Satin Doll,” “In the Mood,” “Tuxedo Junction,” and “String of Pearls.” Andrea Mueller, vocalist with the Jazz Band, sang several songs, including “Over the ...Read more

Sanctifying Malala: The Nobel Prize and Moral Alibis
Dissident Voice, October 11th

(This takes the form, most blatantly, in the charge that she is a product of the CIA doll factory.) Malala, in what is becoming something ... She has become a politicised Shirley Temple, a child politician of the developing world. Her life under...Read more

Altrusa's doll show brings out 'kid' in collectors
Wausau Daily Herald, October 8th

Sought-after collections include baby-faced dolls, Barbies, antique dolls, vintage favorites like Chatty Cathy, Shirley Temple and Crissy, and the modern American Girl and Cabbage Patch dolls. With 100 vendor tables, Altrusa's show will have...Read more

The Shirley Temple doll
Oshawa Express, October 1st

Items such as Shirley Temple dolls, photos, books, dresses and jewelry were all available for consumers. During her height of popularity in the 1930s, the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company approached the Temple family with their Shirley Temple doll...Read more

Gris: Not your average 88-year-old
Macon Telegraph (blog), September 30th

I'm glad I also got to see the dolls she made by hand, as well as the Shirley Temple dolls she has collected since she was a child. Her daughter, Jennie, told me Libba had a brain hemorrhage at age 32. It happened three months after her youngest child...Read more

The Seasoned Collector: Boutique supports children's hospital; glass pumpkin ...
San Jose Mercury News, September 30th

You also will come across jewelry and designer purses, toys, paintings and prints, books galore, plus a brand-new section featuring collectible dolls and bears. Veteran shoppers well know there are tables laden with silverware, but this year one...Read more

Community-sponsored day trips and travel
The Delaware County Daily Times, September 26th

To Tropicana Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., for a performance by Laura Roth, Dec. 8. Cost of $74 includes $15 in slot play, buffet lunch, and a show starring Laura Roth as she becomes Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and even Shirley Temple...Read more