With the death of famed former child star Shirley Temple two weeks ago, the country has reminisced about her in different ways. In Tooele County, just look to Grantsville for “The Right Somebody to Love.”
Grantsville’s Edwina Mohler won a Shirley Temple look-a-like contest in the early 1940s. Actor Clark Gable (“Gone With The Wind”) and actress Jane Withers were touring the country promoting World War II and selling bonds, and one of the contests held with their promotional visits was a Shirley Temple look-a-like contest.
When the two actors reached Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, they found Edwina Mohler and promptly crowned her as “Our Little Girl.” Still, meeting Hollywood actors and winning a contest for looking like Shirley Temple was nothing for Mohler compared to meeting the famous German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin, which traveled with Gable and Withers. Mohler said she’s loved German Shepherds ever since.
The contest was just the beginning of Mohler’s own journey “On The Good Ship Lollipop.”
As a military brat, Mohler has lived in several places during her life. And while working in the Air Force, she lived and visited even more destinations.
To this day, her favorite place she’s been is Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Copenhagen is delightful,” she said. “The people are delightful. If you ever get a chance, go.”
Her second favorite place she’s visited is New Zealand.
One of Mohler’s more terrifying stories took place in Paris in 1956. Mohler said she was out taking pictures in an area of town where she shouldn’t have been, and she witnessed police accidentally kill a woman while they were searching for someone else. When she returned to base, she was restricted by her superiors for going out and had her bike taken away.
“My supervisor assumed I was always up to trouble,” Mohler said.
One such time where Mohler got into trouble was when she was a child. She said she and the other military brats loved to tease the military police. But one time, she said, they took it too far.
The girls created a distraction to get the attention of the MPs, and while that was going on, the boys placed firecrackers underneath the MPs’ jeep. The firecrackers went off, and the MPs began firing their weapons.
“We could’ve been killed,” Mohler said. “We realized we were in the deep.”
As a child, she and her family lived in China. Her father was stationed there, and so she and her brother and sister learned to love the Chinese culture. She said she had preconceptions about the Chinese, but being over there helped dispel the way she thought.
“We were smart-alecky Americans,” Mohler said, “but getting to know the people, we learned to appreciate them.”
Mohler said she’s forgotten how to speak Chinese, except for the profanity.
One story she had from her time in China was while on a ship. Her mother, Vivian, was afraid of her brother, Jim, getting into trouble and exploring a little too much. Afraid that he’d fall off the ship, Vivian tied a leash to Jim.
“The other mothers were appalled,” Mohler said.
Mohler is the oldest of her siblings with her sister, Cheryl, second, and Jim, third. Mohler and her husband, Dale, have two children of her own. Their daughter currently lives with them to help take care of Edwina and Dale, and their son, Charles, is principal at Grantsville Junior High School. Edwina met Dale at a Brigham Young University singles dance. Dale was one of the greeters at the door.
Now the Shirley Temple look-a-like lives in Grantsville with Dale and enjoys “The Simple Things in Life.”