Child Star

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Writing comfortably, as though to an old friend, Shirley Temple Black nevertheless keeps a thin veil between herself and her audience in her account of growing up in and beyond Hollywood. It is, of course, her unique perspective that makes her autobiography of instant interest, yet she consistently draws back from revealing all that she knows, like the consummate diplomat she learned to be through public contact as a child.

As a result, CHILD STAR does not quite satisfy the curiosity it arouses. For example, Black occasionally refers to strained aspects of her family relations, but she maintains a careful reticence about personal details. She is consistently respectful and even sentimental in her references to her parents, even when she acknowledges the dishonesty in their handling of her childhood earnings. On a different front, although Black cites various statistics while discussing her significance for Twentieth Century-Fox, she fails to document her sources, so that CHILD STAR is a frustrating book for the scholar. The average reader, though, may well find much amusement in Black’s seemingly endless string of anecdotes about the political and entertainment legends of her heyday.

CHILD STAR includes a filmography as well as many photographs from the author’s personal collection. Information about the author provided at the back suggests that a sequel is forthcoming, in which, presumably, Black will discuss her role as a diplomatic representative of the United States government. Black is clearly an intelligent woman, and her comments on her unique public position could be extremely interesting if she could find her way to being more forthright.