America certainly lost a treasure yesterday with the passing of Shirley Temple at the age of 85. Later in her life she was known for her political activism and served as a representative to the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the US Ambassador to Ghana. She was also an outspoken advocate in the battle against breast cancer.
But, of course, Shirley Temple was best known for her films, and at the age of 6, was the youngest person to ever be presented an Academy Award. She didn’t win for any particular category but was given her award for Outstanding Achievement, and the person who presented her with the Oscar statuette was none other than Paducah’s own Irvin Cobb.
As her name was announced for the award, accompanied by the enthusiastic roar of the Hollywood crowd, Irvin picked Shirley up in his arms, and said, “Honey, when Santa Claus bundled you up and dropped you down Creation’s chimney, he gave to the world one of the nicest and dearest and most delectable Christmas presents that ever was. If it be true that the laughter of happy children is the music of the spheres to which the angels dance before the throne up yonder in the skies, then you can claim a share in shaping that tune which rings from earth to heaven and all the way back again, because by your efforts millions upon millions of children have been made happy and have laughed – yes and millions of grown-ups too.”
Cobb was so enamored of Temple, and Temple of Cobb, that they called each other sweetheart. In 1935, Cobb went on to write a long biographical article, “Two-in-One Shirley,” in This Week Magazine in which he praises the talents, efforts, and influence of Temple. Says Cobb, “To a very essential degree she remains the twinkle-toed, sparkle-eyed, dimple-cheeked, curly-headed little tyke of the sandpile and the rabbit-hutch, but the rest of her magically has been moulded into the matrix of a seasoned actress, whose talents internationally are acclaimed, whose influence upon a whole generation of amusement-goers is enormous and whose name is a household word in more languages than the builders of Babel ever knew.”
Thank you Shirley Temple.
To read the whole article, “Two-in-One Shirley,” feel free to visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library.