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Warhol treasured signed photo from Shirley Temple

| Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 10:40 p.m.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Andy Warhol was 13 in 1941 when he received an autographed photo, signed “To Andrew Worhola from Shirley Temple,” from the famous actress.

The flickering images on the movie screens wove their early magic for young Andy Warhol on Saturday outings with his older brothers.

The films of an equally young Shirley Temple — they were born the same year, 1928 — seemed to have special resonance for Warhol, who asked one of his older siblings to write her for an autographed photo.

He wanted to add it to the scrapbook he was filling of movie star autographs and photos, an early indication of his interest in celebrity and fame.

Temple honored the request, signing it, “To Andrew Worhola (sic) from Shirley Temple.” Warhol dated it “1941” on the back. He was 13.

The image — which The Andy Warhol Museum tweeted upon news of the death of Shirley Temple Black — is not on display in the museum on the North Shore but will be in May.

Warhol was drawn to the glamour of celebrity and the fact these stars were living the American dream, wealthy and famous, said Geralyn Huxley, curator of film and video at the museum.

“That's what he wanted to be. He grew up poor as a child. In the case of Shirley Temple, she was rich, loved, taken care of, plus she was a child like him,” Huxley said. “When her films came out, it was the ultimate escape from the Depression that was going on. (Her movies) were emblematic of the American spirit as she soldiered on through adversity, standing up to authority.”

While Warhol never painted Shirley Temple, Huxley said, he did recognize her in naming his 1965 film, “Poor Little Rich Girl,” about his favorite superstar, Edie Sedgwick, after one of Temple's classic films.

Shirley Temple Black visited Pittsburgh in a non-film role in May 1979 as a speaker in the University of Pittsburgh's American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series. Black, ambassador to Czechoslovakia at the time, spoke about “Rights and Obligations: Our Gordian Knot.”

The late Robert G. Hazo, director of the series, Pitt archivists report, had called her “the all-time series charmer.”

For Hazo, Pitt reports, the highlight of her lecture occurred when she emphasized a statement by raising her right arm and leg simultaneously — a distinctive gesture that Hazo recalled from her movies.

“She was charming, very accommodating, and all the old-timers came to see her,” Hazo said at the time. “But as a serious lecture on a political or economic or social issue, I'd give it maybe a C-plus.”

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or rrutkoski@tribweb.com.

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