Child star : an autobiography

by Shirley Temple

Paper Book, 1988




New York : McGraw-Hill, c1988.


Shirley Temple Black, child star of the 1930s and 1940s, tells the story of her life as an actress.


½ (43 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member EowynA
An autobiography from one of the premier child stars of the motion picture industry. She has a remarkable memory, clearly augmented by written sources most people don't have of their own childhoods. But more than merely facts, she conjures up the feelings and reactions of herself as a child to some
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pretty famous people. She wasn't perfect, and her natural joy, verve, and ebullient personality was clearly an asset most of the time, but she is honest about its pitfalls, as well. She draws interesting portraits of the famous people of her youth, such as the studio heads, actors and actresses she co-starred with, and even political figures.

As an author, she has an engaging turn of phrase, and the occasional indelicate reference, such as to a producer and his (incorrect) assumptions, is presented so diplomatically that I had to read it twice to be sure I really understood.

She refers to places that are right around the corner from where I currently live, such as her early years at Fox studios, and the area of Fox Hills, where some of her movies were filmed. The character of those sites has changed, but the setting still feels familiar.

I found the book to be interesting, detailed, and worth reading.
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LibraryThing member HarperKingsley
I read this a few years back and found it to be an incredibly fascinating look into the life of Shirley Temple. It showed me some of the realities of life in movies during the early years of Hollywood and how child actors and actresses were treated.

Also, from the time I was a little girl, I loved
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watched the Shirley Temple movies. So it was kind of nice to grow up and see how her life really was and why she stepped away from the big screen. From cute little Shirley Temple, to super admirable Shirley Temple-Black. This was one of the best autobiographies that I have ever read, and I liked the honesty of her "voice."
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LibraryThing member PhilSyphe
I wanted and expected to give this five stars, but it only just made it to four. Reasons for this include too much time devoted to Shirley’s teenage years and beyond; too much focus on financial matters; too many political asides.

Shirley’s 1930s’ films are like anti-depressants to me. I
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always feel better whilst watching one. Shirley was a remarkable little actress, and it’s her life during the 1930s that interested me most. I would’ve liked more anecdotes relating to her films from this period.

I know numerous people she worked with were dead by the time “Child Star” was written, but it would’ve enhanced the narrative if Shirley could’ve interviewed some people who knew her as a girl to give more insights regarding what went on during the films and backstage. For example, June Lang – a stunning actress who co-starred with Shirley in two films – lived until 2005, so it’s a shame Shirley didn’t approach her to contribute some memories.

Also, with a title like “Child Star”, and with Shirley's fame being it its peak in the mid-to-late 1930s, I hoped the majority of the book would focus on these years, followed by only the most noteworthy events from the 1940s, and perhaps concluding with a summary of starting her own family in the ’50s. Instead, we only get about half the book focusing on her early life, followed by a lot of material from 1940 through to the mid-1950s.

I appreciate that she wanted to write about her second husband, and that it seemed fitting to end with the birth of her final child, but this isn’t the life of the child star that her fans want to read about. Touching on her post-acting career is fine, but to sacrifice material from the ’30s to leave space for what follows is – for an early Shirley fan – disappointing.

On the plus side, much of the info on the 1930s' period is mostly good, and of passages from the early ’40s, Shirley enrolling at an all-girls’ school makes an engaging read. I expected the other girls to treat her like a little princess, but they all but shunned her. It's amazing and sad that they behaved that way towards her. This section almost reads like one of her films.

Overall, I found the book entertaining in parts, but on the whole, not as good as hoped for. The material from around 1945 onwards dilutes what should’ve been a classic autobiography. Most importantly, however, I remain an early Shirley fan, and respect the grown-up Shirley. Her loss in 2014 saw the passing of a screen legend.
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LibraryThing member LVStrongPuff
It was really interesting to read about Shirley Temple Black's younger life. I would love to know more about her life since the birth of her last 2 children and her work in politics.


Physical description

546 p.; 24 cm


0070055327 / 9780070055322
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