The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression Book Review
An introduction to the book
When the great depression started in 1929, it sent the USA into despair and shock. It began with the wall street crash and lasted roughly 10 years. With millions of people losing their jobs, it left them and their families penniless and hungry. It is without a doubt one of the worst times in history. With all this going on, little Shirley Temple made a scene at theatres across America. Born on 23 April 1928, little did America know at the time that she was going to grow up to be one of the most recognisable people on the planet. She proved to be a little ray of sunshine amongst all the horrid affairs and financial horrors that was hitting American families so hard.
The book cover
A short summary of the book
For 4 years running Shirley Temple was the at the top of the box office. This little girl was so well known and famous she was the most photographed person in the world. But, why did people love her so much and take her to their hearts? This book explains why Shirley Temple was so popular. At a time when America was at such a low point financially and suffering with the great depression, this book explains how her little smile and dancing beamed onto the theatre big screen and brought joy and light into thousands of peoples lives. Although this book isn't a biography about Shirley as such, it is more a book of the films she was in, her ultimate success throughout the depression and finally, how the world became a little tiresome of the films having a similar storyline whilst Shirley was, inevitably, growing up.
About the book
Author: John F Kasson
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co
Born on 23 April 1928, Shirley was the 3rd child to Gertrude and George Russell. Gertrude being a home maker and George working in a bank, little did they know what their little girl would grow up to be. At just 3 years old, Gertrude enrolled Shirley into the Meglin's Dance School. When casting director Charles Lamont spotted her, he saw her potential. Her first roles was in a series of 1 and 2 reel shows called Baby Burlesks. It wasn't long before she was being cast into films, and soon became an international hit around the world.
This book isn't so much a biography about Shirley Temple, but more of the affect she had on people throughout the great depression. The great depression is said to have started from the stock market crash in 1929 and lasted about 10 years. It was during this time that little Shirley was a child actress and proved to be a little ray of sunshine to millions of people. Really, there's not a great deal about the book that is about Shirley as such, but more about the films she was in, how they did in the cinema's, and what the critics said. As America struggled financially, it seems that Temples films were a welcome release for movie goers. As a cute little girl people around the world seemed to have embraced her and loved her.
John Kasson touches on the great depression and how it affected every day life. In fact, chapter 1 is about Theodore Roosevelt. It is interesting to read what America was going through in the 30's and also the films Shirley Temple starred in from such a young age, and over the next 3 or 4 years, how she grew up and the extrodinary effect she had around the globe. Shirley seemed to have such a happy, outgoing personality and such a cute little face, that people couldn't help but fall in love with her. One couple said they have a picture of her on their mantel piece. Being childless themselves, they said they look at the picture and wish they could have a little girl like her. You see, people seemed to love and adore her. It was through these depressing and sad days that Shirley seemed to shine a light on people through her films.
Yet the public fascination with her personality meant that her own family's private life was rocked as well. This was the ironic outcome of Gertrude Temple's ambitions for her daughter. Mrs Temple could not have imagined the scale of Shirley's ultimate celebrity when she groomed her child as a performer, for her magnitude of that success was unprecedented.— John F. Kasson
Shirley Temple & Bill Robinson
Final summary and thoughts
This was an interesting book to read. Although I had heard of the great depression, I had little knowledge of the magnitude in which it affected people. Shirley Temple growing up in a time when people were at their lowest seemed to be a little ray of sunshine in their lives. The films she starred in shot her into the limelight and into the hearts of millions of people around the world. The book explains the enormity of her success when merchandise based on Shirley was selling like wildfire, especially Shirley Temple dolls. Not to mention the many look-a-like contest that were going on around the world with Shirley Temple related prizes to be won.
She was, indeed, a beautiful little girl and this book highlights her success and how her films touched people during this time. I feel this book is interesting for anyone interested in the history of the movie industry. I like the fact that John Kasson has done so much research with this book, as this is proved at the back of the book with the relevant notes from where he got his information. There are pictures of Shirley peppered throughout the book in her film roles. This I found useful as you see pictures of Shirley as a little girl and growing up in later films. This was definitely an interesting book to read and found I learned a lot about Shirley Temple and the affects the great depression had on people.