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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23, 1928

Tuesday Timeline time! Tuesday Timeline time! Tuesday Timeline time!

And, for this week's edition of the 'line, we're going to be honouring a true blue living legend in stage, screen, and film! Curious to know who we're going to be talking about and what year we're flashing back to? You'll find out soon enough!

For now, why don't we have a look at what else happened on April 23 throughout history. Now, there's quite a few important events that took place on this date, and I couldn't list all of them here. So, I went with some of the more important ones.

1616 – William Shakespeare passes away in Stratford-upon-Avon, England at the age of 52

1661 – King Charles II of England, Ireland, and Scotland is crowned in Westminster Abbey

1897 – Lester B. Pearson, the 14th Prime Minister of Canada is born in Newtonbrook, Ontario

1910 – Theodore Roosevelt makes his “Man in the Arena” speech

1932 – The 153-year-old De Adriaan Windmill in Haarlem, Netherlands burns to the ground

1940 – A fire at the Rhythm Night Club in Natchez, Mississippi kills 198 people

1955 – The Canadian Labour Congress is formed

1968 – Students protest at Columbia University in New York City against the Vietnam War, leading to the takeover of several administration buildings

1985 – Coca-Cola introduces a new formula known as “New Coke”, which ends up becoming a colossal failure

1990 – Namibia becomes the 160th country to join the United Nations

1995 – Sportscaster Howard Cosell passes away at the age of 77 in New York

2002 – De Adriaan Windmill reopens after burning down seventy years earlier

2007 – Russian politician Boris Yeltsin passes away in Moscow, Russia at the age of 76

We're also going to take the time to wish Chuck Harmon, Alan Oppenheimer, Lee Majors, Joyce DeWitt, James Russo, Michael Moore, Jan Hooks, Valerie Bertinelli, George Lopez, Melina Kanakaredes, Barry Watson, John Cena, Kal Penn, Jaime King, Taio Cruz, Aaron Hill, Molly Burnett, Dev Patel, Matthew Underwood, Charlie Rowe, and Alex Ferris a happy birthday.

Now, you might be surprised at who I've included in the list of celebrity birthdays. Of the list, the final five are 25 and under. They may seem kind of young and haven't lived long enough to warrant much attention yet, but I do think that child stars should be recognized in this space. After all, today's blog subject was one of the biggest child stars in the entire world at one time.

And, today she blows out 85 candles on her birthday cake, putting her date of birth at April 23, 1928.

And to introduce this person to you...a personal story.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my parents were really big on classic cinema. Until a few years ago, I never knew that they showed any interest in movies from the 1930s and 1940s. My mom never really watched many movies (well, except for “Grease” and “On Golden Pond”, her two all-time favourites), and my father only thought a movie was good if it starred John Wayne.

My father is kind of what you call one of those “urban cowboys”. No, actually, he'd be more suburban...yeah, that makes more sense.

Anyway, when my dad was younger, he and my Uncle Clark (who sadly I never met as he died six years before I was born) were watching a particular movie that was released before either one of them were born. The film was released in 1936, and the plot involved a sea captain rescuing a baby from the sea. The little girl grows up in the care of the captain and they live their lives in a lighthouse until a nosy old truant officer comes around and tells the captain that the girl needs to have a proper education. What's worse, because the Captain never took the steps to legally adopt the girl as her own, she could be taken away from his care forever unless drastic steps are taken. Of course, like most films from the 1930s, the ending is a happy one.

What was interesting about the film was that the main character was someone by the name of Helen “Star” Mason. At the time, my father had apparently fallen in love with the name “Star”, and he proclaimed to my Uncle Clark after watching the movie that if he ever had a daughter, he would name her after that movie character.

As it so happened, my father had two daughters (and a son, obviously), and he had almost convinced my mother to name their first born daughter “Star”. Unfortunately at the time, my maternal grandfather talked her right out of it, and my sister ended up with the name “Dawn” instead. But then six years later, my mother gave birth to my other sister, and this time around, my father got his wish, and she was named Star (albeit with an extra R at the end, which likely prompted some people to question whether my parents named her after a Beatle...which given the fact that she was born in 1972 would have made perfect sense.)

Anyway, the movie that served as the inspiration behind my sister's name was the 1936 film “Captain January”. And, the actress who played the role of Star was Shirley Temple.

Shirley Temple being the subject of today's blog...the one blowing out 85 candles on her birthday cake today.

I know, it seems almost insane to think that Shirley Temple would ever be that old, given that when we knew her best, she was that curly-haired sweetheart that could make the meanest man's heart melt into mush.

She was born April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California to Gertrude and George Temple, and she began her career at the ripe old age of THREE! Only the Olsen Twins could make the claim that they started their career younger than her.

In September 1931, Shirley's mother enrolled her in “Meglin's Dance School” in Los Angeles, California, and at the beginning of 1932, Temple already had a contract with Educational Pictures after there was a talent search at the dance school. Unfortunately, the company went belly-up just a year later, but Shirley's career was just beginning. When Shirley was barely six years old, she had signed a deal with Fox Film Corporation, and was loaned out to Warner Brothers and Paramount for cameo appearances in other films.

And, in April 1934, the film that helped make Shirley Temple a star was released.

The film was 1934's “Stand Up And Cheer!”, and Shirley's performance in the film was garnering rave reviews. Shirley found herself to be quite the charmer in her young age, with Fox heads promoting her long before the film was even released (which likely assisted in why the film could be considered Shirley's grand entrance, so to speak).

Soon after “Stand Up And Cheer!” was released, Temple's salary was bumped up to $1,250 per week (almost unheard of during the Great Depression). By the end of the year, she starred in the movie “Bright Eyes”, which featured this now-iconic song.

Shortly after Fox Films merged with Twentieth Century Pictures to become Twentieth Century Fox, Shirley Temple began to churn out four pictures a year, and by the time she was a teenager, she had featured in no less than thirty-two movies! Some of her most famous included “Curly Top”, “Poor Little Rich Girl”, “Dimples”, “Stowaway”, “Wee Willie Winkie”, “Heidi”, “Little Miss Broadway”, and of course, “Captain January”.

But going from a precocious young girl with ringlets in her hair, a song in her heart, and dancing dust in her shoes to a mature, beautiful young woman was not an easy one to make for Temple. The older she got, the less she got hired. As it happened, Temple's look ended up typecasting her forever, as she found that her movie projects just weren't being as well received as they had been back when she was a child. Shirley instead focused on school activities, and later, marriage and motherhood, before announcing her retirement from films on December 16, 1950.

But, don't think that this was the last time you would hear from Shirley Temple.

Although Shirley's first marriage to John George Agar did not last (it hit the skids in 1949, following the birth of their only child together, Linda Susan), she remarried just one year later...ironically enough on the very same day she announced her retirement from film making! Her second husband was Charles Alden Black. They had two children together, and stayed married until his death in 2005.

That's nearly 55 years of marriage, for those of you keeping score at home.

And, eight years after retiring from the film industry, Shirley Temple Black had found new life in television. During the whole of 1958, she starred in and narrated a program called “Shirley Temple's Storybook”, and made several guest appearances on several television programs throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Temple would later go on to a career in politics when she began campaigning for the Republican Party in California. She even tried running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1967, but lost to Pete McCloskey – a Democrat.

Oh, well...I don't think it really hurt her that much. She went on to serve on the board of directors of several companies including Disney, Del Monte, and Bank of America, and has been a spokesperson for UNESCO and The National Wildlife Federation, and has raised awareness for breast cancer prevention after her own battle with the disease in 1972.

She was even an official American ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia!

And, of course, you can't deny her many contributions to Hollywood, which has netted her several honours, including her putting her handprints in the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater, received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, and was awarded a very special juvenile version of an Academy Award!

Not bad for a child star, don't you think?

Happy Birthday, Shirley Temple! And, to celebrate? Well, why not have a “Shirley Temple”...on me?

And, if you want to make your own, all you need to do is mix ginger ale with grenadine, and then add a cherry on top! They're just the thing to drink on a cool day, and because they're a non-alcoholic drink, you can go crazy on the Temples!

BONUS QUESTION:  What is YOUR favourite Shirley Temple film?

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