Monday, December 6, 2010

Poor Little Rich Girl

The year was 1936 and Shirley Temple (b. 1928) had already won an Oscar.  Poor Little Rich Girl was her 34th movie role...that was in only five years of acting!

Poor Little Rich Girl was a pretty good movie, but maybe not as good as some of her bigger hits.  Watching it made me think that you certainly won't see movies like this being made these days.  The message she gave was that it is OK for an eight year old to wander off at a train station, and everyone will take you in and feed you, etc.  No one checked to see if she made it to her new school safely.  It was a different era, the depression, and I guess they wanted people to take care of each other.

But, I digress.  Temple was the star and this blog isn't about stars, no matter how cute.  Let's dig into the wealth of Bit Actors chosen for this movie.  (And everyone else was a Bit Actor when Shirley Temple made a movie.)

Jack Haley (1898 - 1979) who played The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939) was a song and dance man who took Shirley in, so he could put her in the act.  Haley also made Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm with Shirley in 1938.  Alice Faye (1915 - 1998) played Haley's wife.  A wonderful singer, her voice added a lot to the act, and the movie.

Gloria Stuart (1910 - 2010) played the love interest of Shirley's father.  A beautiful woman who went on to make 77 appearances in the movies and on TV.  You will remember her as Old Rose on the mega hit Titanic in 1997.  She was even beautiful at 87.

Shirley's father was played by Michael Whelan (1902 - 1974).  This was his fifth film.  In the 1950s he was in quite a few westerns on TV, but even with 80 titles in his filmography, none appeared to be big hits.  (I'd say, Bit Actor.)

In a small part you can find Jane Darwell (1879 - 1967).  I think my favorite Darwell role is Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940).  With 202 roles, it would take a long time to see everything she did, from 1913 to 1964.  Her last film was Mary Poppins (1964).  She played The Bird Woman...tuppence a bag.

In an even smaller part, Fred "Snowflake" Toones (1906 - 1962) plays a porter at the train station, being type cast as usual.  With 214 acting roles, Snowflake had quite a career.  Billy Gilbert (1894 - 1971) gets to do a double take as a waiter, but he has no lines, and no sneezes.  He does have 220 titles listed on IMDb, from 1929 to 1962.

Lastly, let's mention Tony Martin (b. 1912) who had a song and a closeup.  Tony went on to marry Alice Faye the next year.  Not bad, Tony!  That marriage only lasted four years, but then he married Cyd Charisse (1921 - 2008), and that one lasted 60 years.  Faye went on to marry band leader Phil Harris (1904 - 1995) and that marriage lasted 54 years.

I couldn't find Poor Little Rich Girl on DVD.  Maybe it will eventually show up.  In any case, every classic film collection should have some early Shirley included.  Mine does.


  1. A wealth of talent in this supporting cast. Alice Faye, of course, went to to become a popular star...until "Fallen Angel" and Linda Darnell came along! Years later she returned to the screen in supporting roles.

  2. She was a great singer! After she came back to movies, she was in Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976). I have never seen it, but it has a large cast. Faye ended her career on "The Love Boat."


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