Baby Burlesks

"In 1932, Shirley Temple made her film debut in What's to Do?, the first in a new series of comedy shorts called Baby Burlesks, created to compete with Our Gang. But here, instead of three- and four-years old child actors playing smart-aleck kids, they played adults in adult situations.

A friend of mine, Daniel Riccuito, who happens to be a film scholar, first called my attention to the films. He describes them as such: "Shirley plays a variety of sexually out-there characters. The one I own (Polly Tix in Washington) isn't the most outrageous of the bunch, but it has her playing a whore whose mission is to seduce a new senator and get him to sign The Castor Oil Bill. The all-child cast appears in diapers, mostly topless, with top hats, cigars, flesh."

Another film in the series, he tells me, has a diaper-clad boy squeezing a cucumber that shoots juice out of one end, striking Temple in the face."
- Jim Knipfel


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