Belleville woman will share her love of Shirley Temple during annual doll show

News-DemocratMay 29, 2013 

Peggy Smith has been a Shirley Temple fan as long as she can remember.

"When I was a little girl, my mom would take me to Shirley Temple movies," she said. "And she would ask if she could have the pictures from the marquee (after the run)."

Today, those photos hang on the wall of Peggy's dining room, next to her collection of about 100 Shirley Temple dolls.

"This is my favorite," she said, pointing to a 1958 hard-vinyl doll in a white ruffled dress.


"Because of the color, and it looks so much like her. The outfit is from the 'Curly Top' movie (1935)."

Peggy, 75, of Fairview Heights, also has dozens of Shirley Temple books, movies, records, magazines, dishes, clothes and other collectibles.

She will give a Shirley Temple presentation at 11:45 a.m. Sunday at the Doll, Teddy Bear, Toy and Collectible Show at Belle-Clair Fairgrounds Exposition Building in Belleville.

"I think it will be a really good program," said organizer Kay Weber. "I like Shirley Temple. I always have."

The doll show will feature 50 vendors selling antique and collectible dolls, dollhouses, Teddy bears, miniatures and other toys.

Dolls will be sold in a silent auction to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Experts will string dolls and give appraisals.

"(People who come to the show are) mostly women, 40 and up, but we get a few men," Kay said.

Peggy has lived in Fairview Heights since 1995, when her husband, Lester, was transferred from his railroad job in Florida. They have five grown children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

The Smiths formerly worked part time as professional clowns.

"We were Pinkie and Stinky," said Lester, 69.

Peggy collects many types of dolls, including Effanbee Bobbsey Twins, Patsy dolls, antique German dolls and Dolly Dingles. She has about 1,000 displayed in her home.

Lester isn't a doll person, but he supports his wife's hobby.

"There's an old saying: 'If Mama's happy, everybody's happy. And if Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy,'" he said.

"So I try to keep that little lady happy. She's been a good wife. She makes my life very easy. I can't say enough about her. She's my sweetheart."

Peggy stood nearby, reading Lester's lips. She has been severely hearing impaired since childhood due to infected tonsils.

But the disability didn't keep her from enjoying Shirley Temple movies as a girl.

"Bojangles would show her how to do dance steps, and she would do them," she said. "She could do anything. She was a natural."

As an adult, Peggy began reading books on Shirley Temple and collecting dolls, following in her mother and sister's footsteps.

"My (five sons) even got to the point where they liked Shirley Temple because I was always watching her on TV," she said.

Shirley Temple was an actress, singer and dancer who appeared in more than 40 movies, beginning at age 3. Her curly hair was her trademark.

Peggy likes what Shirley Temple did for the country in the 1930s and '40s.

"During the Depression, she brought laughter and enjoyment to people with her singing and dancing," she said. "She helped them forget about their problems."

One of Peggy's favorite Shirley Temple dolls is a vinyl one from 1973 that her mother gave her. It's 17 inches tall with a red-and-white polka-dot dress from the movie "Stand Up and Cheer!" (1934).

Peggy's rarest Shirley Temple doll is an 11-inch-tall composition doll from the 1930s with a pink, pleated party dress.

"I put the netting on to keep their hair nice," she said.

Peggy will use her presentation to share common information about Shirley Temple and little-known facts she has learned over the years.

The child star apparently liked slingshots better than the dolls she received as gifts from all over the world. She shot First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on a White House visit.

"(The movie studio) had a black box, and if children forgot their lines, they would put them in it," Peggy said. "One time, Shirley Temple was put in the box, and she never forgot her lines again."

Despite this incident, Peggy doesn't have the impression Shirley Temple was mistreated.

"She seemed to like (being an entertainer)," she said. "She didn't want to be upstaged. She knew her lines and everyone else's lines."

At a glance

What: 31st annual Doll, Teddy Bear, Toy and Collectible Show

Where: Belle-Clair Fairgrounds Exposition Center, 200 South Belt West in Belleville

When: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday (8 a.m. for early bird viewing)

Admission: $5 (free for children 12 and younger); $10 for early birds

Appraisals: 1 to 2 p.m.

Shirley Temple presentation: 11:45 a.m.

Information: 618-233-0940 or

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