HOLLYWOOD, July 13 -- What do you mean "life begins at forty"? Here's Shirley Temple, and life, to her, begins at four.
Shirley is no accidental success in pictures. Her fond parents have seen to it that Shirley had the best possible education in music, dancing and acting before she reached the age of 4. Now she commands a salary of $1,000 a week, and, with Will Rogers, rates as one of the best box-office attractions in Hollywood.
The child has no idea what all the shooting's about. She likes to act. It comes naturally to her. And she's the most natural child you ever met.
We were sitting in the studio publicity department discussing little Miss Temple when in she walked.
"Hello, Don," she said to her favorite, a young chap who has handled publicity for her for some time. Immediately she began a search for gle to spread on his chair.
"Who is your favorite leading man?" Shirley was asked.
"They're all good," she said with a diplomatic grin. She'll name no favorites - except Dorothy Dell, the young actress who was killed just before "Little Miss Marker" was released. She wept freely when she learned Dorothy was gone.
Shirley gets a well-balanced food diet. Plenty of spinach and carrots, and at least 12 hours of sleep each night, in addition to a nap in her own tiny portable bungalow on the set.
Mrs. George Temple, the mother of two sons in their 'teens, is a sensible, level-headed woman. She won't permit Shirley for one minute to realize she's a widely-known little person.
"You're not so good as an actress, Shirley," her mother will say. "There are lots of little girls on the screen better than you."
Mrs. Temple thus is the antithesis of the usual screen mother who encourages the offspring to show off in public.
Shirley's father is the manager of a branch bank in Santa Monica, where Shirley was born. Every cent she makes goes immediately into a trust fund.
There have been no expenses for pretty dresses, new automobiles or governesses in the Temple household. Many of Shirley's gowns were given to her by her studio when her pictures were finished.
Mrs. Temple accompanies her to the studio and superintends her meals and sleep. She also autographs Shirley's pictures with a schoolgirlish left hand.
How long will Shirley Temple last on the screen? That's problematical. She may still be a corking actress at 12 or 24. It all depends on how fast she matures, or if she becomes gawky in her adolescent years.
Meanwhile, Shirley remains unspoiled, unsophisticated and happy.