My (Very) Brief Film Scene Career

It was the Shirley Temple era, and mothers of cute little girls took them to singing and dancing and acting lessons.

Agencies and studios for such activities had sprung up all over the place. I don't really remember a lot about this --maybe a little about the singing lessons, some tap dancing .

"Out, back, down... out, back ,down" -- that was the basic step and I don't believe I went much beyond that, before everyone decided that I had no aptitude for dancing at all.

Apparently I was better at singing and memorizing little speeches in dialects. There were also a few sessions at a photo studio where we had some publicity shots taken.

I was surely destined to be a child star. (Don't call me Shirley.)

The "Sad face" shot, showing my incredible range of emotion.
The "Sad face" shot, showing my incredible range of emotion.

Publicity Shots

Source

The photographer, shooting photos of me for a range of expressions, told me a story about a kitty cat who got hit by a car, to get my sad expression. It worked.

Occasionally there were little shows and presentations. Where I usually sang. I remember that mom made me a costume of dark green taffeta with fluffy pink net sleeves. It itched.

On the way to stardom

I sang "Mighty Like a Rose" , "Always", and perhaps "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah".


A day or so after such a performance, Mom would take me down to Kress Store for me to choose a toy as a reward. I never quite understood why I should be rewarded for ding something fun. She would always try to talk me out of things like cap guns and rubber knives.

I wasn't much of a doll fancier. I think one reason for this was we went to movies every week and they were usually cowboys, or pirates.

It always seemed unfair that the men in the movies got to do the fun things, like defending the wagon train from the attacking Indians or swinging down from the rigging of a sailing ship with a gleaming sword in one hand, while the women were mostly helpless and silly.

Clapper Board

The scene and take numbers were written in chalk, so the film editor could splice the scenes together correctly.
The scene and take numbers were written in chalk, so the film editor could splice the scenes together correctly. | Source

Finally -- The Movies

I do remember my first job at Fox Studios in Hollywood, California -- well actually it was my only job at any studio. I may have had the world's shortest show business career.

Mom took me to the studio and stood in the back while the film rolled. At least I assume she stood there. It was impossible to see beyond the banks of bright lights.

In those days there were commercials in between movies in the theaters, this was one of those. I have no idea what we were advertising, and though we always hoped, and went regularly to the movies, we never saw the finished production.

There were lots of lights and cameras and scaffolds and stands and people carefully stepping between and over the mazes of cables and electric cords. There was a man with one of those snap boards that had the black and white lines on it, and another man who told everyone what to do. (the director)

I could have been a star!

No action scenes

As luck would have it, I didn't get a cowboy or pirate role. Strangely enough I played the part of a little girl in a family, which was something I had experience with.

There were several scenes which I remember quite well, all with a domestic theme. None of them had any dialogue, though we were told in some of them that we could talk to each other.

In one shot I was on the floor of a living room set, in front of the couch with a coloring book and crayons.

I don't remember what the other actors were doing. It was my job just to color. I was a good colorer.


In another scene we were gathered around a dinner table. There may have been six or seven people all together and dinner was being served. I think there was also a little boy in the "pretend family", but I don't specifically remember who else was there, except the "dad" actor.

This is one of the shots where we could talk to each other, while smiling and acting pleasant. I remember asking the 'dad' actor, sitting next to me, if he was supposed to be my daddy.

He said yes rather hesitantly... as if he weren't quite sure, and I told him that he didn't look anything like my real daddy. I also told him that I was glad we didn't have to eat the dinner, because I didn't like peas. He said he didn't care for them much either.

This was quite amazing to me, as I had never heard of an adult who would admit to not liking peas. I often wonder what lip readers might think of this scene...and for all I know we could have been advertising peas.

The BIG Scene

Because there were legal limits on the number of hours a child could work, it seems to me that we had to take a long lunch break. When Mom and I came back , they were set up for a kitchen scene. (This was my big one.)

It involved my movie mom and I coming into the kitchen with paper bags filled with groceries, which we set on the counter. This required some effort for me, as the counter was high, and I was short.

Then I was offered cookies from a plate. My direction was to take a cookie, look at it, get up close to the stove and take as big of a bite of the cookie as I could.

It seems to me that we re-shot this one two or three times, each time the director telling me to "take a bigger bite". At home this would have seemed an impolite and unladylike way to eat a cookie, but I did my best. I was a good direction follower.

The retakes were good, because the cookies were delicious. I got 16 dollars for my day's work. Life was very good for a five year old girl. Imagine getting paid all that money for coloring, not having to eat peas and eating cookies.

We went to the movies once a week and always hoped we would see the one starring me.
We never did.


Please share your own show business experiences in the comments, below.

More by this Author


57 comments

Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

Awww too bad you didn't get to see yourself. Sounds like an interesting experience. I love your publicity shots.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I thought it was fun. (P.S. I don't look like that any more.)


DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 7 years ago from Central North Carolina

You are so cute - every bit as cute as Shirley Temple! In fact, until I read the cutline I thought the top picture was her. BTW, I was of the same opinion that boys had more fun - in the movies and in real life!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Mom, made sure I had the right curls.


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

That is such a great story...


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

The best part is, I didn't have to make it up.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

You are a great writer. I enjoyed reading your story. Your pictures are sooooo cute.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you-- Unfortunately, I'm old enough to know that cute doesn't last.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

Cute turns into beauty. And beauty lasts.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Just wait ReuVera-- I'm sorry to tell you this, but those anti- aging creams are a total hoax.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

This is such a cute story, Rochelle! You were a darling little girl! It's easy to see why you were in film! Thank you so much for sharing that! Sixteen dollars is big money to a kid!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Yes, back then it was pretty good. Funny thing is-- that amount actually shows up on my record of lifetime social security earnings.... then thee was a looong gap until I got a part-time job in college.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

That is too funny! My daughter really got interested in the make-up when we were making that movie. She really wanted to create zombies. I convinced her that it was quite a seasonal thing here unless she wanted to venture out to Hollywood someday.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

So zombies are seasonal in Texas? lol. I think they are in L.A. all year. We only lived about an hour away.


Laughing Mom profile image

Laughing Mom 7 years ago

Rochelle Frank says:15 minutes ago

Just wait ReuVera-- I'm sorry to tell you this, but those anti- aging creams are a total hoax.

------------------------------------

Say it ain't so, Rochelle!!!!!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

LOL.....if she wanted to get rich off making people into them she's pretty much limited to Halloween here. However, I told her if we could come up with some kind of themed party idea where people hire us to come fix them up, we MIGHT be able to squeeze in some other times throughout the year. I have a feeling that when we see the movie it'll revive all of that in her again. We'll see.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

It's true-- but I just read a hub on the anti aging properties of spices-- and Reuvera read it too.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

So, there is a hope for us, ah?


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I'll try anything once. You still may have time, I probably have exceeded my expiration date for ani-aging.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

What a hoot.  So you're a star.  It's such a shame you never got to see your clip.  So why no others? By the way, I was always disappointed with the roles women had to play too. I loved bows and arrows and pistols. My dad got me a Lone Ranger costume once. That was much fun. It came with two silver pistols and a pistol belt, a mask, and a cowboy hat.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Probably because I couldn't dance. I did audition for a movie starring Bob Hope. (He wasn't there at the tryout.) They chose a slightly older girl, Shirley Temple, instead.

I think we gave up the acting and singing lessons when I entered first grade. It seems I remember Mom asking me if I wanted to continue with them, and I didn't really care one way or the other. She didn't push me, and I never felt I missed out on anything.


LPUNDERBERG profile image

LPUNDERBERG 6 years ago from Eolia, MO

We loved your story. I was in show business, and my blog will tell some stories of that later on. If anyone had seen you, you were so cute, I'm sure you would have been a star.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks for bringing this back to life. It was one of my favorite childhood memories. It's probably for the best that I didn't attain stardom. Life is good.

Looking forward to hearing your stories.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 6 years ago from London

Sounds like a great experience - and good that it was something you fancied, and not something you were pushed into.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Yes, it is quite a happy memory-- and Mom was with me the whole time, there was no pressure. I always thought it interesting that the $14 or so that I earned is listed on my Social Security earnings report.

Thanks for the read.


camlo profile image

camlo 6 years ago from Cologne, Germany

I love this Hub, Rochelle. The way you tell of your experience in the movies made me smile often (especially the (possibly) 'pea ad'), although I think it's sad you never got to see yourself.

Enjoyed the read!

All the best, Camlo


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, Camlo. It's too bad they didn't give us a copy of the film -- would have meant more than the $16, for sure, though I can still play the clips in my mind.


Brad 5 years ago

In about 1949, when I was 4 years old, my sister and I went to tap dancing lessons because the neighbor kids were going. They were pretty good actually, and my sister lasted for a while, but I only lasted for 1 or 2 lessons. The first dance, as in the artice, was:

Out, back, down

Out, back, down

Shuffle, toe, step

There was probably more to it, but that's all I remember after 63 years. I just thought I'd share that, not that anyone will read it since it's been 2 years since the article and 6 months since the last comment. Oh, well...


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Well, I read it. We are notified when a new comment comes up. Nice to know that a lot of us were subjected to the same thing. Perhaps that's why tap dancing died.

Thanks for commenting.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

You were a darling child, much like Shirley Temple. I also took tap dancing lessons as a child but was a drop-out...my choice. I was never that coordinated. Ha!

Is there no way to recover the part you played? It seems a shame if otherwise.

Interesting and up votes!


CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

What an awesome story, Rochelle. I, too, wanted to be in the highlights of television. I was grateful when my parents let me be on television on the local show, Professor Kool's Fun School (age 8), and at the age of 13, I auditioned for another local show, a talent show, Showcase 13, singing and playing guitar. I was always dreaming of being asked to be in a musical program. I achieved part of that goal by being in high school musicals and plays at my brother's high school, and I was active in playing music with the Folk Music Club and singing in coffee houses in high school and college.

I am very close to the time now when I finally do create my first musical You Tube, or some other way on line.

The movie and music experience is very competitive, so the self produced works as on line video is the best way to go, I think, and then maybe I will be seen by someone like Ellen DeGeneres, who will want to promote me on her show. But right now this is a dream. I look forward to my new experience, and I will let you know so you can see it. Congratulations on this fun memory, and maybe it can happen again if you want it to.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Peggy, I know, I would have loved to have a clip-- but I still have the memory, and it was only important to me.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Keep your dream alive CM Castro-- I was also in high school productions and sang in a girl-type "kingston-trio" at coffee houses in those years. In college I got more into journalism-- but did reviews of the college plays and musicals. I wasn't a great reviewer, because a loved all of them.

Too late for me to cause a scene now, I'm too old.-- but you may still have a chance


JherusiaLhean profile image

JherusiaLhean 5 years ago from Aquilla, TX

This is an interesting story. I am very glad to read it.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Rochelle, at least you got CASH for your screen time. As a young married, I and three other YMs (all wives from Hubby's office, if memory serves) just *knew* doing a commercial for a local hot dog company would be the beginning of a long career in show biz. It was shot one evening at a grocery store after it closed, with us perusing the hot dog section of "Meats" and then each of us picking up a package of the featured brand and holding it so the logo faced the camera. Thing is, it was all done from behind and we never actually faced the camera, and for that reason our "pay" was a couple of pkgs of hot dogs! We did, however, get a schedule of the exact times it would be shown during the local evening news (several times over a few weeks) but this was before VCRs, so we couldn't even record it for posterity!

Years later when I was in politics, TV crews from the three local stations were at an outdoor fundraiser for a man running for governor and since I'm a behind-the-scenes type who hates to be photographed, I kept ducking behind people. Thought I'd stayed out of camera range, but didn't turn on the TV when I got home to find out. At work the next morning was when I learned there was more footage of me on the 10 o'clock news (on all three channels!) than the candidate running for office! Go figure. ;D


stylezink profile image

stylezink 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA.

Good hub! I enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me to write about my experience. Voted up!


Dardia profile image

Dardia 5 years ago from Michigan

Great story! I once went for an audition where the chosen would get video and photos. I was chosen but then they wanted us to pay for the videos and such. Can you say, "Scam!" Voting up!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, stylezink. I think I had more fun than you did and I didn't have any barking dogs in mine.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, Dardia. Some of those people sound like the ones who want to publish everyone's book.


stylezink profile image

stylezink 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA.

I think so too! Thanks for reading my hub too! Those dogs drove me bonkers, ha ha ha!


Beth37 3 years ago

What a fabulous hub. You're such an engaging writer.

Did you know the video you have posted is blocked when you click on it? Just so you know. :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks for the very kind comments, Beth37. I especially appreciate it when it happens to a lightly viewed hub. Thanks for the heads up on the broken link. I will fix it.


Beth37 3 years ago

42 comments is "lightly viewed"? How dare you madame!

And it was kinda criminal what that photographer did to make you don that expression. Just sayin'.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Yes.. bad Photographer. Forty two comments in four years, let's see that's an average of about 10 per anumn.. but the one before yours was two years ago.


Beth37 3 years ago

Id actually like to share it but Im not sure how... Ill work on it.

Oh... i did it. Look at me go!


rcorcutt 3 years ago

Awesome story. Must have been a pretty fun time growing up during that era.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

It was, perhaps the best time to be a kid. Thanks for visiting.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA

This is an interesting story. I thought the first photo was Shirley Temple too.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I think it is the curls. Shirley could surely dance better than I could. Thanks for looking in.


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

What an interesting story. Although I hate the bit about them telling you a kitty had died to get a sad face! I've heard they did the same thing to another young film actress, her name escapes me now, but they told her that her dog had died to get her to cry for a scene. A really terrible method if you ask me. You were a very adorable child, a doppelgänger for Shirley for sure.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, Crystal Tatum. I'm glad you found it interesting.


Mary McShane profile image

Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Do you ever wonder "what if" you had passed from child actor to teenage to adult actor? How cool would that have been! Especially in that era. You have nice memories, Rochelle. It is also nice that I didn't read any parent bashing like so many other children who were kinda pushed into acting by parents who probably either wanted to be an actor themselves or did it to be able to support their families. Today, sad to say, circumstances of child actors for the most part are still parent-driven. Parents put their children into acting, usually for the fame but probably hoping for the $$$ to cross over to them at some point. Going by autobiographies I've read where child stars talk about their circumstances, some of the parents are really something. I'm glad you had a good experience; you were fortunate in that regard. However, I am sorry you never got to see your movie or at least acquire a copy of it for your memory box.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

It was an interesting experience, and I did enjoy being in some high school drama productions, but I don't think I would have liked making it a career. I think it is a stressful life for those trying to become successful. Those that do make it usually seem to ruin their lives. Thanks for commenting again.


swilliams profile image

swilliams 2 years ago from Arizona

What an amazing article Rochelle! How adorable! Thank you fro sharing and I love Shirley Temple by the way! I also want to thank you for answering one of my questions I thought I was deleting my comment in response in order to make a correction on my behalf and I deleted yours by accident I did it twice. Even though it says I've been here for 3 years I just started learning the ropes on the Hubpages last year. Thanks again! And if you have any more thoughts please respond. Your knowledge is beautiful!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Hey-- that's OK, My comment wasn't really profound (or I might have remembered what it was... I'll rethink.)

Thank you for commenting on this old hub.

I glanced at your profile-- my husband was stationed in Kaiserslautern with the US Army.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 7 months ago

How awesome Rochelle, you were a cutie. You should have become a star.

Blessings anyway


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 months ago from California Gold Country Author

I think it was all for the best. Stardom would be stressful. I like my simple life.

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