Critical Moments by George Joel

Those among you who follow the doings of the inhabitants of Hollywood no doubt know that the great battle between Pere Temple, papa of Shirley, the pintsized movie sensation, and the august corporation known as Fox Films has been fought. It was a bitter struggle, bloodless though keen, and replete with enough bluffs to satisfy a loose-fingered poker player.

Pere Temple finally won and the child actress, instead of receiving a mere $150 each week, will receive a pay check of $1,500. But as I remarked before, all of that is common news. Stranger and more unusual are the other terms of the contract signed for Shirley. Fox Films have made the essence of this historic document public, and for your edification and for my own convenience and rest I am setting down Fox’s version of the results of the battle;

“Probably the most unusual contract ever written between motion picture star and producing company is one just executed for five-year-old Shirley Temple by the Fox Film Corporation.

“It provides that the tiny actress will have “comfortable and exclusive dressing room facilities.” This means a private bungalow for Shirley Temple, like other and older noted stars. This dressing room will be totally unlike any of the others, decorated to conform with a child’s temperament and it will contain a special school room, where the instruction of the child will go forward even while engaged in studio work.

“A striking section of the new contract now bars Shirley from the studio restaurant. No longer will she dine in the famous Café de Paris. Her meals will be prepared there, but brought to her dressing room and served. This will halt other players, executives and visitors petting and patronizing the child, which has happened heretofore when she visited the restaurant. And she may order whatever she desires.

“No other star or player has ever been permitted to do that. The contract calls specifically for the chef of the studio restaurant to be ready at all times to prepare and serve such things as porridge, vegetables and similar food suitable for a little girl of five years and in accordance with diet prescribed for her.

“The agreement sets forth that the child is to be accompanied at the studio by her mother, or by a governess or companion in the event her mother is unable to come. Competent medical advisers are to be furnished to observe and regulate her physical well-being.

“The studio is committed under the contract to furnish many articles for enjoyment and recreation. Among some mentioned are one skipping rope, set of jacks, assorted dolls, sets of blocks, picture books, doll carriage, rubber tired scooter and other things.

“There must be vacations at given times of the year and stipulated rest periods ever when making pictures.

“The real schooling of Shirley Temple will start in earnest in September, her mother having taught her thus far. The little girl was five years old last April and this fall can begin a genuine course of learning. She knows her ABC’s fairly well already, can count into her first hundred and spells out common small words for children. She prints, but does not write. Shirley is now learning— slowly—to tell time.

“The contract with the unusual clauses is not the result of any temperamental attitude on the part of Shirley’s parents. It is the result of conferences between them and the Fox Film executives, all eager to safeguard the health of the child and to keep her unspoiled.”

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