Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Shirley Temple was born in 1928. She began dancing as soon as she could walk. When she was 4 years old, her mother moved her from dancing classes into films. Her first movie was The Red-Haired Alibi (1932). When she was 6 years old she was awarded a special Oscar for her performance in the movie Bright Eyes. She danced, sang, and acted her way into the hearts of moviegoers. From 1935 to 1938 she was the most popular box office attraction in the U.S. As she grew up, her career faded; she stopped making movies in 1949. She married Charles Black in 1950 and in the 1960s began a political career. As Shirley Temple Black she became an American diplomat and the first woman appointed Chief of Protocol in the U.S. State Department.

Judy Garland was 7 years old when she began singing in vaudeville shows with her two sisters. At 13 she obtained a movie contract. At 14 she starred in The Wizard of Oz. She continued to sing in musical comedy movies throughout the 1940s. When she died in 1969 at the age of 47, she had become a musical legend. More than 20,000 people attended her funeral.

Elizabeth Taylor was born in England in 1932. When she was 10 years old she began her acting career with a small part in There's One Born Every Minute. At 12 she starred in National Velvet, and at 17 she played the role of Amy in the movie version of Little Women. She continued to act and has won two Academy Awards as an adult.

Patty Duke opened on Broadway in The Miracle Worker when she was 13 years old. She played the role of Helen Keller. Two years later she starred in the film version of the play and won an Oscar for best supporting actress.

Tatum O'Neal was 10 years old when she won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance in Paper Moon. At that time, she was the youngest person ever to win.

Jodie Foster began her prolific acting career as a child, appearing in many Disney films and television programs. By the time she was 13 years old she had landed sophisticated roles in movies like Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone. She continued her acting career while she earned a college degree at Yale University and won best actress awards in 1988 for The Accused and in 1991 for The Silence of the Lambs.

Anna Paquin had never acted before her Oscar-winning performance in The Piano. She was 11 years old when she won the 1993 Oscar for best supporting actress.

Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters was born in 1900. She began singing in public when she was 5 years old. She was billed as a baby star when she began performing on the vaudeville circuit at age 8. She continued to sing and act as an adult, appearing in the Broadway play The Member of the Wedding and in the film Cabin in the Sky. Her autobiography is His Eye is on the Sparrow.

American opera singer Beverly Sills was born in 1929. She was 3 years old when she began singing on a weekly radio show called “Bob's Rainbow Hour.” When she was 17 her voice had such a range she was able to sing 20 opera arias.

British pop singer Petula Clark had her own radio show called “Pet's Parlour” when she was 11 years old. The show aired on BBC radio in 1943.

Gladys Knight was born in Atlanta in 1944. She debuted at age 4 singing solos in a Baptist Church. When she was 8, she was on the nationally televised The Original Amateur Hour singing popular songs. By 1957 she had joined with her brother and cousins to form the pop group The Pips, which later became Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Alison Krauss began playing the violin when she was 5 years old. She won the Illinois Fiddling Championship when she was 11. At 15 she had recorded her first solo album. By the time she was 17, this singer and bluegrass fiddler had made five albums, won two Grammys, and sold more than half a million records.

Dame Alicia Markova was born Alicia Marks in England in 1910. When she was 10 years old she made her first professional appearance as a ballet dancer in Dick Whittington at the Kennington Theater in London. By the time she was 14 she was dancing with the world famous Ballet Russe, the dance company of Serge Diaghilev. She danced the title role in Balanchine's Lerossignol when she was 16. Markova retired from dancing in 1963 and began to teach and to produce ballets.

American dancer Gelsey Kirkland was born in 1952. She was spotted by George Balanchine and asked to dance for his New York City Ballet when she was 15 years old. Within four years she became a principal dancer in the company. She later went on to dance for the American Ballet Company where she partnered such greats as Nureyev and Baryshnikov.

When she was only 14 years old, country music sensation LeAnn Rimes released Blue, an album that has sold seven million copies. In 1997, when she was 15, she acted in a TV movie, Holiday in Your Heart, based on a book she co-wrote.

Drew Barrymore was seven when she landed a role in Steven Speilberg's hit film E.T. In her twenties she became a respected actress starring in films like Boys on the Side in 1995, The Wedding Singer in 1998, Never Been Kissed in 1999, Fever Pitch in 2005, Charlie's Angels in 2000, and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle in 2003.

Sources +