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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Susan Granger Remembers Shirley Temple

(Editor’s note: At the request of WestportNow, Westport film critic Susan Granger today offered these reflections on the death of Shirley Temple Black Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85.) Image
Susan Granger addresses Woman’s Club last September. Dave Matlow for

By Susan Granger

Shirley Temple was our first American princess. 

Back in 1936, she was the No. 1 star in the world. On her 8th birthday, she received more than 135,000 gifts from all over the world. She was an industry unto herself, licensing 164 products, from dolls to music boxes. Yet, when she retired at the age of 21, she had only $45,000 left in her trust fund.

I didn’t meet Shirley Temple when I was growing up. She worked at Twentieth Century-Fox, while my father worked at MGM and Columbia. Back then, the studios were like fiefdoms –- and they didn’t often intermingle. Indeed, when she was briefly considered as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” Fox supposedly refused to lend her to MGM, so Judy Garland got the role.

Besides, I was much younger. By the time I met her, she was Mrs. Charles Black, living in San Francisco and an avid Republican, serving as U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

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