History of Shirley Temple dolls

I got my first 12 inch 1957 vinyl Shirley Temple when I was small and it was one of my first dolls. She got lost along the way and I always felt bad since I loved her so much. I used to love to watch Shirley's movies when they would come on TV and play with that doll! Eventually, as an adult, I got one, then another, then another, and... then started collecting the composition Shirley Temple dolls from the 1930s.
The composition dolls you see on this page are all original and were made by the Ideal Toy Company. The dolls were sculpted by a master doll artist named Bernard Lipfert. Lipfert also designed the Judy Garland dolls and a version of the Dionne quints. Wax designs were made into molds which were then filled with a wood pulp material called "composition". They were eventually made into several sizes 11, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 25, and 27 inches. The dolls all came with a giveaway photo of Shirley and an original Shirley Temple pin! The earliest pin has the "overall" pose and the later pins have the famous Ideal insigna with Shirley holding one finger to her cheek. Original pins have in tiny print "Her Signature" on the edge. Shirley Temple composition dolls have sleep eyes made of glass or tin. Only some of the 11 inch dolls had blue tin eyes, the others all had hazel glass eyes. The eyes have real upper lashes and handpainted lower lashes, eyebrows and lips. Blush was painted to the cheeks, wrists, and knees. Wigs were made of mohair and designed into long sausage curls. The colors varied from light blonde to redish and darker blondes.
The composition dolls had different markings which varied from year to year. Most of the dolls are marked "SHIRLEY TEMPLE/IDEAL NOV. & TOY CO." on their heads and "SHIRLEY TEMPLE" on their backs. Some dolls are marked only on the head and some of the earliest dolls are marked inside the head. Many composition Shirley Temple dolls are also maked on the bodies with their size. These dolls wore replicas of the dresses from Shirleys movies. They were originally designed by Mollye Goldman. There were several molds of the composition Shirley doll made to grow in age with Shirley. The last mold or the make-up doll had a rounder face dark eyeshadow and more defined brows painted lashes and lips. There was more coloring to the cheeks, wrists and knees. Due to Shirleys declining popularity as she got older, production was decreased and the later dolls are much more rare. Click here to see what I think the different molds are!
Production of the composition dolls ended in 1939. Dolls were again released by Ideal in 1957 in conjunction with Shirley Temple's movies being released on television. These are the vinyl dolls you have seen on my page. They came in sizes of 12, 15, 17, and 19 inches! The detailed craftmanship was now gone and the dolls were made of vinyl and plastic. They also had hazel sleep eyes. The dolls wore clothes more of the period and not usually made for Shirleys movies. These dolls may not have been the works of art as the earlier composition dolls were but were loved by the public! Just like the composition dolls and just like Shirley herself they sparkled!
Ideal also produced Shirley Temple dolls in the 70's and again in the 80's. The Danbury mint continues to make Shirley Temple dolls up through today.

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