Of course, I do not mean the real Shirley Temple, of which we got a tiny glimpse only after the War when she married a soldier. And I don't know why Elizabeth Taylor, even in "National Velvet", never made the same formative impression. She was an object rather than a subject, somehow. And when she began both she and we were already half grown. Margaret O'Brien did start out as a little girl, but she wasn't heroic. Natalie Wood was younger.
Of course, the War changed everything, too. The bare-faced fantasy of the Shirley Temple movies gave way to that of Private Roger Young. The paper doll princess gave real talks on the BBC. The real Shirley Temple had, one supposed, a reasonably private experience of puberty.
Whether 1930s Hollywood products were wholesome or not I do not know. One can argue all sorts of ways.