I am officially an old bag. Today I turn 50 and I’m trying hard not to whinge. For it is a privilege to be 50. My friends who died of breast cancer in their 40s would love to be where I am. And so would the kids who were robbed of their mothers.
The beautiful sick kids I’ve met at the hospitals I work in who left way too soon didn’t get to be adults at all. And the families and friends of my darlings Veljko, Mark and Anthony who died in their 20s would love to know them in their 50s. Those guys would have aged like fine wine if they’d had the chance.
I don’t feel that different, but I look in the mirror and I see age creeping up on me. I was born on a Monday, “Monday’s child is fair of face,” but my face looks like it needs more sleep. And my knees creak from all the stilt walking, gymnastics and dancing drunk in stupid high heels over the past 35 years. I can still have fun with my kids, my best friends, the families I meet through my work and I share great love with a beautiful heart. But there are things I’m worried that I haven’t done yet. Maybe I won’t get to live in New York or drive across Africa. Maybe I won’t be brave enough to sail across the world. Maybe crazy life goals are in the past. Maybe I won’t sing with Kermit or be the next teen superstar.
I share my birthday with fabulous people like Twiggy, Jeremy Irons, Frances Farmer, Mama Cass, Daniel Lanois, Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Fallon and Alison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives, darling. Today is also International Talk Like a Pirate day.
At 50 I’ve realised that the cocker spaniels I’ve had in my life may be the only dogs I own in this lifetime as I can’t afford to buy a house.
But 50 brings great rewards. I can sing, dance, laugh and love, I have fabulous kids, and I’ve given up people who drain me of precious energy. I have no time for those who don’t contribute to improving our world. So hit the high seas for some hijinks you swashbuckling scoundrels. I’ll be wearing my new earrings that cost a bucaneer. 50 is swell.
Thank you for your music, you truly are a wonder.
Thank you for the joy you gave the world with your singing and dancing Shirley Temple Black. I remember performing in a tutu in my front garden as a four year old; I’d watched one of your movies and I wanted to be you.
Shirley was rare, a child star who turned into a high achieving adult. Shirley Temple Black started raising funds for the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society; a disease that afflicted her brother. By the early 1960s, she was co-founder of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies. In the years that followed, she became engaged in politics and served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
She also became one of the first prominent women to speak publicly about her fight against breast cancer. After she had a mastectomy in 1972, she held a press conference in her hospital room and urged women discovering breast lumps to seek medical attention and not “sit home and be afraid.” Due to her openness around her experience, the New York Times stated that, “she is widely credited with helping to make it acceptable to talk about breast cancer.”
Today the ladies of the Shirley Clubs around the world will remember her with a smile.
“As long as we have Shirley Temple, we’ll be all right.”
Unlike Britney, I was a child star who didn’t live up to my initial promise. I did my first ad when I was six months old, a big fat roly poly baby lying nude in an underwear model’s arms. We were advertising ‘nursing’ bras and my job was to look cute and adorable (it was a stretch for me). Allegedly I peed all over her, I don’t think that is true, I can’t remember doing it. My mother swears it happened, but as she was once a young Liberal I’m not sure her testimony can be trusted.
One of my earliest and most favourite-est memories, (probably because my mum took a photo of me sitting on our lawn roller in our front garden) is of me singing Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head. My singing career started a couple of years after my modelling debut. I was wearing a cowboy hat that didn’t match my tutu. I used to sit on the grass roller looking fabulous between my shows. I preferred to play to intimate audiences rather than at larger venues. Singing was my thang, especially entertaining my mother’s friends as I stood on our dining room table in patent leather shoes, or warbling on our front fence. I also gave impromptu performances riding side saddle on my rocking horse on our front verandah, just to show my versatility as a ‘triple threat’ as they say in acting parlance. In the days before Autotune I was a magnificent singer. Who said all child stars grow up to become problem adults? Not me.
Yes this is child star Shirley Temple, she was WAY before my time but I didn’t copy her once in my stellar career appearing on book covers, in newspapers and magazines and live for a limited season on our front lawn.