Shirley Temple & Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
Shirley Temple enjoyed working with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Off camera and even sometimes on camera, she affectionately called him Uncle Billy. She enjoyed his company so much that she once expressed a desire to visit him while she and her mother were staying in the Palm Springs area. Like the Temple family, Mr. Robinson lived in the Los Angeles area and had come out to the desert to help little Miss Temple rehearse her dance steps for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938). Since he was continually coming to her Palm Springs bungalow, she proposed in her naive and prepubescent way that she visit Mr. Robinson at his “bungalow.” He dissuaded her from such a visit by playfully sharing a “secret” that his “bungalow” was in fact a room his chauffeur used above a nearby garage.
Although they made four films together and delighted audiences all over the world with their teamwork and legwork (dancing together was one of their most endearing and enduring charms for movie audiences) and as this “bungalow” anecdote demonstrates, the friendship they enjoyed, both on screen and off, remained largely confined to their small world of make-believe and rarely extended to any society outside the studio walls in a racially divided America of the 1930s.
To their credit, Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, despite any society they found themselves in, remained good friends through to the end of Mr. Robinson’s life at age 71 in 1949.
Here is a list of the films in which they appear together:
The Little Colonel (1935)
The Littlest Rebel (1935)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938)
Just Around the Corner (1938)