Was Shirley Temple's Iconic Hair Fake?

Shirley Temple was one of the youngest and brightest stars of the 1930s. In 1936 she was photographed more than anyone else in the world, and by 1938 she was making over $300,000 annually. Her film roles, loud personality, and those signature ringlet curls, brought light to the dark times of the Great Depression. These curls even earned her an endorsement deal for Vassar Waver hair curlers (via The Atlantic). The irony is that the curls were far from natural. 

According to The Chicago Tribune, Shirley Temple did not have naturally curly hair. Her mother Gertrude Temple styled her hair in pin curls for every film in which her daughter appeared — 56 pin curls to be exact. Gertrude Temple was the only one allowed to style Shirley's hair, as specified in their contracts with film studios. To achieve the look, the curls required bobby pins every night and curlers all day on Sundays (via The List).

Shirley Temple did not keep the curls

Though Shirley Temple's curls took some diligent styling from her mother, all 56 of them were still her real hair. Unfortunately, rumors spread, even in the days before social media. As explained by Ranker, one rumor claimed that Temple wore a wig. This rumor spread so well that fans occasionally tried to prove it by pulling Temple's hair. 

Temple was not as concerned with the iconic curls as her mother (via MentalFloss). In fact, she did not attempt to keep the signature look when her hair began to change as she grew older. By the age of 17, her hair had turned from golden blonde to brown and her career subsequently declined (via Ranker). Nevertheless, Temple forged ahead with her personal ambitions without the film industry and without the golden curls. 

Upon her death in 2014, USA Today outlined highlights of Temple's adult life, explaining that she served as a State Department foreign affairs officer under President Reagan. President George H.W. Bush then appointed her as an ambassador to Czechoslovakia, where she was well-received and is remembered fondly just as she is in the United States, curls or no curls.