Singing, dancing Shirley Temple was a big star (and a movie veteran) by the time she was eight.
Shirley Temple dolls, made by Ideal, came in many sizes; after their successful debut in 1934, pattern companies wanted to cash in on their popularity by selling patterns for doll clothes that would fit the dolls, and which could be related to little Shirley’s movie roles. However, because of licensing agreements, most companies didn’t have the right to use the Shirley Temple name.
This DuBarry pattern, which dates from 1939, shows dolls with the Shirley Temple face and hairstyle, but does not use her name.
The pattern was available in 6 sizes, depending on the height of the doll. Simplicity 2243 also said it would fit “popular film star dolls.” McCall 41435 from 1937 is usually described online as a Shirley Temple pattern, but those words aren’t used on the envelope.
I love this beach pajama outfit; beside it is a photo of a little girl who lived next door to my grandmother.
Clothes for these dolls resembled real clothing for children, as seen in the dress, green coat and suit from McCall 418, below.
There’s no mistaking Shirley Temple’s face on this illustration. The detail of the clothes is amazing, considering that it was available for dolls as small as 13 inches (like the one offered by Ladies’ Home Journal.)
McCall offered the little Shirley Temple doll suit with plaid skirt in another version in pattern 1015, which does not have Shirley Temple’s face or curls:
I wore a suit like that, myself, in the late 1940’s.
I also had to wear curls like Shirley’s, perfected with a curling iron heated on the gas stove; my mother and I fought about those curls every day. She had seen plenty of Shirley Temple movies before I was born and had a clear idea about what her daughter should look like. (I try not to hold a grudge against Shirley.)
These wardrobes often included underwear, dresses, a coat or cape, and pajamas or a jumpsuit; the detailed robe in Butterick 449 delights me.
McCall pattern 1015 reflected World War II women’s styles, including a “siren suit” (is that an air raid warden’s insignia?) and a Red Cross Nurse.
Perhaps the movie inspiration for this one was Gone with the Wind (1939,) rather than Shirley Temple.
I especially like the doll’s “broomstick skirt,” a fad for women’s skirts that were twisted and tied around a broomstick while wet, so that they were random pleated when dry.
Allowing for the child-shape of the dolls, these mimicked women’s clothes. I remember my mother wearing a blue 1940’s housecoat very much like that one!
Shirley Temple’s heyday as a child star was in the mid 1930’s; although doll-buying parents might have fond memories of her as Dimples, The Little Colonel, Curly Top, and other roles she played before she was eleven, by 1947 she was a married woman, playing opposite Cary Grant and Myrna Loy in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.
The Toni home permanent company realized (or hoped) that little girls might like to give their dolls a “Toni.” In fact, the setting lotion for the Toni dolls’ hair was sugar and water. I can say from my own childhood experience that my Toni doll’s hair developed a sort of sugar dandruff — luckily you could shampoo her hair, too.
However, Shirley Temple dolls did not disappear; in fact, perhaps because her old movies were appearing on television in the fifties, a new, improved Shirley Temple doll was released in 1958, and new doll wardrobe patterns for her — in fifties’ styles — quickly appeared.
The Advance company was licensed to sell Shirley Temple Doll patterns, but I suspect that other companies were able to work around that problem — again.
Click here to see a Simplicity Shirley Temple doll pattern dated 1979.
Unlike many child stars, Shirley Temple Black led a happy and productive life “after Hollywood,” and served as a United States Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
Many of these movie doll patterns can be seen (or purchased) at Old Doll Patterns.