Caesar and Temple: True pioneers

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Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple

Within a couple of days this week, we lost two great entertainment pioneers of the last century, Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar.

Temple, with her curls, smiles and dances and one of the first great child stars, was an elixir during the Great Depression with her movies with a positive slant.

"Shirley could make people believe, if only for 90 minutes, that there were no problems in the world," said a fellow child star, Dickie Moore.

"(She) represented, for many, the epitome of childhood goodness and sentiment, a beacon of hope for the future of America and the physical embodiment of the perfect child," wrote a British sociologist, Jane Catherine O'Connor, in "The Cultural Significance of the Child Star."

At the peak of her fame in the mid-1930s there were Shirley Temple dolls, Shirley Temple dresses, Shirley Temple china, Shirley Temple notebooks, Shirley Temple soap and Shirley Temple sheet music. There was a non-alcoholic cocktail -- ginger ale with a touch of grenadine, topped with a maraschino cherry -- named for her.

As an adult as Shirley Temple Black, she was perfect for an ambassador to the United Nations.

Caesar, with his superb sense of comedy, made television what it is today. His "Your Show of Shows" was the template for transitioning comedy to the new medium.

His work laid the foundation for skits and segments today on SNL and Modern Family, the name a couple.

And what an all-star cast of writers he had for his show, maybe the best ever. They included Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Larry Gelbart, who later created M*A*S*H.

Combine those death with the recent one of Pete Seeger, one of the pioneers of folk music and protest songs, and we've lost a powerful entertainment trio.

They say they come in three's. These were three biggies in their day.

 

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