Dear Quote Investigator: There is a funny anecdote about the young superstar Shirley Temple and her visit to Santa Claus when she was six. She began to question the story of toys distributed from the North Pole by Santa. Can you locate a version of this from Temple herself?
Quote Investigator: The earliest instance of this anecdote that QI has located appeared in a newspaper in 1961. The byline indicated the source was the WNS news service [TPST]:
Shirley Temple said she stopped believing in Santa Claus when she went to visit him in a Los Angeles department store and Santa asked her for her autograph.
Temple may have been hasty in her judgment because even Santa or one of his helpers would have been awed by Shirley Temple’s box-office power in the 1930s.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.