Some of my earliest memories were waking up in the morning, popping Curly Top into our VCR, and watching Shirley sing and tap-dance across our little television screen.
Of course my Shirley Temple video tape collection didn't stop there. My great aunt fed my Shirley obsession well, and I now have neary the whole collection of tapes lined nice and neatly in our video tape drawer.
I knew every song, every dance (this may have been helped by the sing along tape my parents got me), almost every line of all the movies.
It didn't matter that these movies were made more than fifty years before I was born. I didn't care. All I wanted was to be Shirley Temple. I remember that I would sing and tap-dance everywhere (though, now I realise that what I was doing didn't resemble tap-dancing in the slightest. What I called 'tap-dancing' was more like stomping around, in a very messy, non-dancey way), and for my special present for Christmas one year, my parents got me these fancy grown-up hair curlers. And, in the home video of me opening the present, my mom even said that they would make my hair "look like Shirley Temple's" (even though she should've known that to get my head of frizz to look anything like Shirley Temple's, we would've needed waaay more than those curlers).
I think it's safe to say that Shirley Temple was my #1 childhood hero.
Yesterday morning, when I woke up, and sat at the computer to make my early rounds through the social media, like I do every morning. My parent's were watching TV in the next room, and it was then that I heard, coming from the television speakers, a song that I hadn't heard in years, and I knew exacty what movie it was from. The song was The Good Ship Lollypop, from Bright Eyes, a Shirley Temple movie that I had watched many, many times. Shirley was the one singing, of course. But here was the kicker: they were playing it on the news!
Uh, oh! No! There is always somthing up when the news plays an old, classic song like that.
It wasn't until I heard them play it a second time after the commercial break that I finally decided to see what was up, and sure enough, it was what I feared, Shirley Temple had died that night.
"She was 85 years old, and died surrounded by her family," the chipper news lady said... That's it!? That's all you have to say about my childhood idol!?
Even though I haven't watched the Shirley movies in years, and didn't really for sure know that she was even still alive until yesterday, it's still a blow. Here was someone who had been as much a part of my life as if she was my sister, and now she was gone. Another piece of my childhood ripped away.
I didn't freak out as much as I should have (the stuff that I said up there^ was merely just casually thought in my mind. But it's okay to exagerate when your hero dies), surprisingly. It's just kind of a hollow sort of feeling, you know.
I am being reminded again and again that I am not a child anymore.
In a couple of months, on my birthday, I'm turning a scarey number, and I kind of really don't want to be that number. I'm not ready to take on the expectations of being an 'older one'. When I'm young, and childish, I can get away with stuff, it doesn't matter if I do something stupid, because most everyone will forgive me.
But not anymore. I'm an 'older one' now.
Which brings me back to Shirley.
You see, it might be overlooked (because, usually, when a movie star actually turns out alright, it's usually overlooked), but once Shirley grew out of her cutesy, child stardom age, she turned out to be a pretty incredible 'older one'. She got into politics, and became a US ambassador. She was married for over fifty years, had three children, and several grand children and great-grand children. She beat breat-cancer, and, in my opinion, was an all out awesome person.
Shirley is definitely one of the stars to admire. And is still a great roll-model for me as I enter into the scary new world of being an 'older one'. And I hope someday that I can be as much an inspiration to a little girl as she was to me.
I still regret that I never got to see her in person, but, I suppose I'll still get to meet her someday in heaven. :)
Shirley Temple Black