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 Shirley's short-lived but extraordinarily successful career.
The doll documents the developing relationship between toy manufacturers and the film industry. The Ideal Novelty & Toy Co successfully capitalised on Shirley Temple's growing box-office success to create a succession of replica dolls. The dolls wore outfits which resembled Shirley's own clothes or actual clothing worn in her films. This particular doll's outfit is based upon the dress worn by Shirley Temple in the role of orphan Shirley Blake in the 1934 movie 'Bright Eyes'. This is the dress in which Shirley famously sang 'On the Good Ship Lollipop'.
While the Shirley Temple doll has obvious appeal as a toy, it also functions as an item of film merchandise and was probably purchased by adult Shirley Temple fans. The Shirley Temple composition doll came in nine sizes from 11 inches up to 27 inches tall. The size and quality of the doll and clothing would have made them expensive items.
The doll also documents the international toy market of the 1930s. Many Australian manufacturers produced look-a-like Shirley Temple dolls, including Ruby Wharrie's Trio Doll Company which created 'Shurl'. From 1939 Sydney shop S Hoffnung & Co secured the rights for Shirley Temple. The imported parts were assembled and dressed in Australia.
The doll has excellent provenance and is supplemented by stories and photographs of its use by Elizabeth Gibson and two sets of home-made spare clothing. Elizabeth recalled that while she 'loved her dearly, she was a bit special'.
Shirley Temple dolls are highly collectable depending on age, condition and completeness. This is an early marked example in fair condition missing only the original ribbon and shoes.