Working with a prodigy in just about any field can provoke all kinds of reactions, from jealousy (think Salieri vs. Mozart) to downright awe. Carole Lombard and Gary Cooper both were motion picture veterans; in fact, they earlier had made a movie with each other ("I Take This Woman"). But in mid-1934, when they were cast in "Now And Forever" with Shirley Temple, Coop and Carole were downright intimidated by someone half their height.
It wasn't that Temple tried to play boss with her two grown-up co-stars; far from it. Shirley was cooperative and professional to the utmost degree (well, as professional as a child actor could be). But her incredible ease in front of the camera, not to mention her uncanny knowledge of acting, led Cooper and Lombard to realize this was no ordinary youngster they were dealing with.
The September 1934 issue of Silver Screen features a story of life on the set, and anyone who doubts Shirley's extraordinary talent should read this article:
Let's isolate that paragraph about Lombard on the second page:
("Dorothy" was Shirley's imaginary adversary who would cause her to flub up her lines.)
Here's an anecdote about Carole having to spank Shirley in a scene (it wound up being removed from the script, but Temple insisted it be performed):
The story was written by Patricia Keats, who also touched on the young star's reaction to the death of close friend Dorothy Dell, only age 19.)
Another Silver Screen writer, S.R. Mook, dropped by the set as part of his tour of the studios -- and while he discussed Shirley, he seemed proudest of being kissed by Carole. (Who could blame him?)
Lombard tended to be skeptical of child actors, but her experience with Temple led her to champion the youthful star (though she never really had to -- Shirley won the affection of millions through her genuine skills on the screen; there was nothing cloying about her). "Now And Forever" would be a singular experience in Carole's cinematic career.