CHILD STAR: An Autobiography by Shirley Temple Black
Kirkus Star

CHILD STAR: An Autobiography

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Serious little Shirley Temple, with lip outthrust, wants to be treated as an adult. Now 60, she's very adult indeed and puts her studied hand to rende ring one of the most inward pictures of child genius since Mozart's letters. Focusing on childhood, girlhood and early marriage, this is a tremendously satisfying autobiography--and its flowing, handcrafted pages must give Black a great sense of fulfillment. (Readers may ignore her rival, the full-life but stolid Shirley Temple: American Princess, by Anne Edwards, p. 948.) Black takes it upon herself to give us a thorough history of the financial life and times both of the film industry and of the US during her years of greatest earning. She was, in fact, deeply into the nation's purse and had a vast effect on the economy, not to mention saving Fox Studios from bankruptcy. Far from intruding upon our interest in her life in front of the camera, her passages of social history are apt and lively. As a child, she found dancing and singing and acting stimulating to the utmost. She tells about memorizing the heat from various types of light beams and using patches of heat on her forehead and cooler areas on her cheek to find her floor markings without looking down. ""I grew to know lights and marks as well as I recognized my paycheck."" Despite the world's amazement at her dancing prowess as a child, Shirley points out that she had already had two years training in tap before she made her first film at age four. Highlights include: hitting Eleanor Roosevelt in the butt with a pebble from her slingshot while Mrs. Roosevelt turns chops on a barbecue; producer Arthur Freed (The Wizard of Oz) exposing himself in his office to 11-year-old Shirley (""I reacted with slightly nervous laughter""); the mistaken announcement of her death in a grisly auto accident on her first wedding night; a rape by her producer while making Mr. Belvedere Goes to College; a hilarious passage about trying to act with Ron Reagan in That Hagen Girl; and fighting her first husband's alcoholism. Rich and accomplished, a classic, at its most brilliant in limning the childhood years. Shirley lives again.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1988
Publisher: McGraw-Hill