Shirley Temple Black, who died Monday at the age of 85, was just a little bit older than Newsweek. Both were children of the Great Depression: Temple was born in 1928, and Newsweek was founded five years later in 1933.
While the magazine was in its infancy, Temple was at her most popular as a child star, and we reported on her with a lighthearted earnestness.
Newsweek chronicled the pint-sized star’s early birthdays, noting on what was reported to be her 8th in 1937 that she was not only the biggest attraction at the box office, but that her aspiration was to “own a pie factory when she grows up.”
It came out later that Temple’s mother lied about the girl’s age, so, like the rest of the press at the time, Newsweek’s reports missed her correct age by a year. In 1938, Newsweek reported that she was raking in an estimated $15,000 each week. But there seemed to be no cause for concern that she was going to sink all that money into a bid to actually buy herself that pie factory—“a large share” of the child’s funds were “being held in trust in the California bank of which her father is manager.”
When the box-office sensation was 10 (actually 11) in 1939, Newsweek dutifully informed its readers that she weighed in at 75 pounds and had grown two inches in the last year, and now stood a good 4.5 feet tall. But that light-hearted item is contrasted with a reminder of the sinister events in the rest of the world.
The news blurb that immediately follows it announces that Adolf Hitler, “Fuhrer of the Reich,” turned 50 just seven days after little Temple.
When Newsweek Reported on Shirley Temple Black