Shirley Temple was the biggest box-office star during the Great Depression, tap-dancing, pouting and mugging through a staggering number of films and shorts -- IMdB has 11 listings for the curly-headed moppet in 1933 alone. One can only imagine that Dakota Fanning's agents wish they could have worked her that hard, too. Damn these modern child labor laws!
But like most kid stars, Temple worked less as she got older. She was still doing roughly a picture a year during her teen years, but for a star of her caliber under studio contract, she might as well not have been working at all. Temple retired in 1949 at the age of 21 (the same year that she divorced actor John Agar, whom she married when she was 16) and went on to an impressive career in public service.
But what if she had continued acting? For a glimpse of what might have been, check out one of Temple's last films, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. Just 18 when she made the picture, she'd been in front of the camera for longer than many actors twice her age, and she holds her own with co-stars Cary Grant and Myrna Loy -- no mean feat, that. Still phenomenally photogenic, with an overly broad acting style but brilliant comedic timing, there's little doubt that Temple could have transitioned to adult roles with just a little bit of coaching.