Shirley Temple child doll and clothes

Made by Ideal Toy Corporation in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A, 1935-1936.

This Shirley Temple doll is significant as the most successful doll ever sold up until the late 1930s. Over six million Shirley Temple dolls were sold, and many firms worldwide copied the doll because of its phenomenal success.

The Shirley Temple doll charts the rise of personality dolls modelled on film stars and celebrities and is an early example of toy film merchandise. Even in the 1930s it is likely that Shirley Temple dolls were purchased as items of memorabilia by fans wanting a link to...


Doll, Shirley Temple, and two sets of spare clothes, composition / mohair / cotton / vinyl / rayon / lace, designed by Bernard Lipfert, made by Ideal Novelty & Toy Co, New York, United States of America, 1935-1936

Shirley Temple composition child doll with raised maker's marks on the back of the neck partly obscured by the wig-line. Fully jointed six-part composition held together by metal hooks hooped over elastic. The body is painted a flesh colour. She has blue sleep eyes with hair upper lashes and painted lower lashes, eyebrows, lips and nostrils. Her open mouth shows six top teeth. Her blonde wig is made of mohair and curled to look like Shirley Temple's hair, she wears a red ribbon on the right side of her head.

She wears a short cotton dress with faded plaid print of black, purple and orange on white with a red trim. The dress has white muslin puff sleeves with red trim and a large white collar also with red trim. A large red ribbon (not original) fastens at the neck. The dress is based upon the outfit worn by Shirley Temple while singing 'On the Good Ship Lollipop' in the role of orphan Shirley Blake in the 1934 movie 'Bright Eyes'. She wears black vinyl court shoes (not original) and white rayon socks with a lace pattern. Her white high-waisted cotton underpants have a lace trim. A faded red ribbon has been attached to the underpants with a safety pin. This may be the remnant of the original ribbon once tied around her neck.

Set of hand-made doll's clothes made from a pink and white irregular dotted cotton fabric. The sleeveless dress has a lace inset below the bust line and a lace trim at the neck, sleeves and hem. The matching pants also have a lace trim. Probably made by Catherine Gibson for her daughter Elizabeth's Shirley Temple doll during the 1930s.

Set of hand-made doll's clothes made from a blue and white floral cotton fabric. The sun dress has short sleeves, a pocket, lace collar and lace trim. The matching sun hat has a brim.


530 mm
240 mm
160 mm


The Shirley Temple doll was designed by Bernard Lipfert for the Ideal Novelty & Toy Co. of Brooklyn, New York. The first Shirley Temple mould was issued in early 1934. This doll was probably made from the second mould issued from late 1934 until early 1935 or the third mould which was issued in 1935. The Shirley Temple composition doll came in nine sizes: 11 inch, 13 inch, 16 inch, 17 inch, 18 inch, 20 inch, 22 inch, 25 inch, and 27 inch. This doll is 22 inches tall. (

The spare doll's clothing was probably hand-made by Catherine Gibson during the 1930s for her daughter Elizabeth's Shirley Temple doll.
Ideal Toy Corporation 1935-1936
Lipfert, Bernard


Elizabeth Jamieson Gibson was born in January 1934 in Hay, NSW. Elizabeth's father won this Shirley Temple doll in a raffle in Hay during 1935 or 1936. Shirley Temple was an expensive doll and a wonderful prize to have won. While Elizabeth 'loved her dearly' she was not able to play with her as much as she would have liked as 'she was a bit special'.

Shirley Temple was one of the most successful child stars in the history of film. She was born on 23 April 1928 in Santa Monica, California. Her mother took her to dancing lessons from the age of three and was ambitious for Shirley to secure work in show business. In 1932 Shirley obtained a contract at a small film studio called Educational Pictures Inc. and appeared in the serial 'Baby Burlesks'. At age five Shirley featured in the Fox Studio film 'Stand Up and Cheer'. Known as much for her blond ringlets and lisp as for her ability to sing and tap-dance, Shirley charmed her way to stardom in twenty-five films during the depression years of the 1930s. Notable films include 'Little Miss Marker' (1934), 'Baby Take a Bow' (1934), 'Bright Eyes' (1934), 'The Little Colonel' (1935), 'Wee Willie Winkie' (1937), and 'Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm' (1938). Shirley was awarded a special Academy Award for her outstanding contribution to film in 1934 and was the top American box office star from 1935 until 1938.

Morris Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty & Toy Co. in 1906 in Brooklyn, New York. He based his success on creating unbreakable character or personality dolls using a composition material which was said to be unequaled. Ideal gained the exclusive rights to manufacture a Shirley Temple doll. They hired top doll designer Bernard Lipfert to create the mould and clothes designer Mollye Goldman to design the outfits. Bernard Lipfert's doll creations included Patsy, Baby Coos, Dionne Quintuplet, Pebbles and Bam-Bam however his best-known work was Shirley Temple.

The first Shirley Temple mould was issued in early 1934. After good sales at Christmas 1934 Ideal realised how successful the doll could be and obtained a patent. Until copyright was obtained the dolls were printed on the back of the head with COP which stood for 'Copyright Pending'. Over six million Shirley Temple dolls were sold making her the most successful doll to that time. See blue file for photographs showing production of the composition Shirley Temple doll.

Many firms worldwide copied the Shirley Temple doll because of its phenomenal success. These dolls do not have 'Shirley Temple' or 'Ideal' marks. A number of Australian manufacturers produced look-a-like dolls including Ruby Wharrie's Trio Doll Company who produced 'Shurl'. From 1939 Sydney shop S Hoffnung & Co secured the rights for Shirley Temple. From this time the doll was imported in separate parts then assembled and dressed in Australia. See blue file for image of 1939 trade price list featuring Shirley Temple and Vera Kent's story of assembling Shirley Temple dolls.
Gibson, Elizabeth


Gift of Elizabeth J Gibson, 2005
17 June, 2005

Cite this Object

Shirley Temple child doll and clothes 2014, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Shirley Temple child doll and clothes |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=21 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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