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Temple’s death marks the end of an era

Date: 2/13/2014

By G. Michael Dobbs

There is a lot of stuff bouncing around in my mind this week.

Era is ending

I can’t expect young people today to understand why so many people my age or older are mourning a bit with the passing of Shirley Temple Black.

Back in the day when local television stations bought packages of movies to broadcast, her movies from the 1930s were among the staples.

And since my mom had been a huge Temple fan as a child, my brother and I watched them along with her.

There had been other child stars before her, but none of them approached the monumental popularity of Temple. The success of her films saved 20th Century Fox in the Depression years and she was credited as being of the elements that gave people hope during those very dark days.

In this era of Lindsay and Miley and “stars,” with expiration dates, Temple’s scandal-free existence seems almost quaint. That’s too bad as it should be an example to follow.

That’s not to say her life was without challenges, but considering the oddity of being a worldwide celebrity by the age of 7, she handled things very well.

As a student of the films of the 1930s, I believe Temple was one of the last major stars from that era – perhaps the only major star.

A little unsolicited advice

I’d like to offer a bit of advice to the ever-growing number of candidates for public office. Boy howdy, this year is going to be a busy one and I don’t want to get any of you upset, but I’m not a mind-reader and neither is any of my staff.

If you’re going to announce something, send me an email and follow up with a phone call. We cover campaigns in the following way: we’ll do an announcement story and cover forums. We will do other stories if what a candidate is doing or saying is truly significant – yes there is some subjectively there.

My staff and I work very hard to be fair in the number of stories, the placement of stories and the length of stories.

And feel free to send us a nice head shot for our files.

So if you have a concern, please call me. Being snarky or whiney will not be tolerated – well, we will tolerate it, but then we will joke about you in the office. Don’t worry, it will be behind closed doors.

“Rocky” as a musical

There is a musical treatment of the film “Rocky” now heading to Broadway. Now if I had heard it was going to be a skit on “Saturday Night Live” I would have believed it immediately. The good news is Sylvester Stallone is not starring.

I asked my Facebook friends what other films shouldn’t be musicals and among the suggestions were “Die Hard,” “Robocop,” “Terminator 2,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Deer Hunter” and “The Human Centipede.”

Yikes! The trouble is I could imagine some producer taking at least one or two of these titles.

Please send me your suggestions at for other dramatic films that shouldn’t become stage musicals.

What happened to World Fairs?

So in the middle of this odd Olympic fever – people are interested almost as much in the bungled Russian organization of the games as the events themselves – it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard of another international event that used to be part of a lives: the World’s Fair or Expo.

I couldn’t recall the last time I had heard of a country hosting such an event. They used to be a big deal when I was a kid. Was this another example of a 20th century convention biting the dust?

According to the web, there was an international exhibition in 2010 in Shanghai, China, and then another one in 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea. The next such event is scheduled for 2015 in Milan, Italy.

The idea behind such events was to allow nations to brag about themselves for tourism or political propaganda purposes and for corporations to market themselves.

In this virtual age, it is heartening to find a very old fashioned marketing concept apparently alive and well even though it may not warrant the same kind of media coverage it once did.

I never visited one as a child, but perhaps I’ll put it on my bucket list for my ever-decreasing future. I just won’t go to one in Sochi, Russia.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.