Remembering Shirley Temple requires us to remember her legacy of Blackface cinema

STemple

The Greatest Generation said good-bye to one of their beloved actors today with the passing of Shirley Temple Black, beloved child actress renowned for her on-screen song and dance performances.

I never grew up with Shirley Temple movies, but we would be remiss to remember Ms. Temple’s legacy without remembering that she was also a star during the height of Hollywood’s love affair with Blackface. In fact, much of Ms. Temple’s fame was due to her status as America’s “lovable” and innocent child-next-door, all pudgy knees and dimples and curly hair; this juxtaposition was frequently played to extreme effect when she was contrasted against actors in Blackface and/or otherwise playing Black stereotypes.

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