What's To Do: Shirley Temple, Kenneth Howell, and Junior Coghlan in the 1933 Comedy Short

by DerdriuMarriner

A teenager dreams of class office-holding, home runs, and pretty girls. He gets all three. Will he lose everything with his father’s Seattle-based dream-job in “What’s To Do?”

Hollywood director Charles Lamont never allowed loitering in himself or others.
• He discovered Shirley Temple at the Meglin’s (1890? – June 21, 1988) Dance Studio of Ethel Meglin (1890? – June 21, 1988), ex-Follies Girl to Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (March 21, 1867 – July 22, 1932) and wife to Richard Meglin (Anglicized from Moegling; died 1962).

He finalized Shirley’s contract in 1932.
He launched Shirley through:
• The controversial Baby Burlesks (Runt Page, War Babies, and The Pie-Covered Wagon in 1932; Glad Rags to Riches, Kid in Hollywood, The Kid’s Last Fight, Polly Tix in Washington, and Kid ‘in’ Africa in 1933);
• The entertaining Frolics of Youth of 1933 - 1934.

What followed was history for the world’s super-successful child star.

Along with "Merrily Yours" and "What's To Do?", Educational Films also distributed "Krakatoa," a short documentary which won the 1934 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Novelty).

1933 Color Poster from the Academy Award Winning Film Krakatoa.
1933 Color Poster from the Academy Award Winning Film Krakatoa.


The spoiled son of the town’s richest man dislikes losing at baseball, elections, and girls in What's To Do? by writers Ewart Adamson (October 23, 1882 – November 28, 1945), Ernest Pagano (January 16, 1901 – April 29, 1953), and Charles Edward Roberts (May 22, 1894 – November 10, 1951); producer Edwin Hampton Allen (November 15, 1885 – August 13, 1942); and director Charles Lamont (May 5, 1895 – September 12, 1993). Cinematography and sound respectively fall within Dwight Warren’s (July 18, 1889 – August 14, 1979) and Walter C. Smith’s (January 22, 1904 – February 6, 1974) responsibilities. Editing reflects The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures’ pre-release inspection. Filming takes place in the Educational Films Corporation of America’s production company studios.

The 17-minute film appears second in four comedy shorts produced by Educational Films under the theme “The Spice of the Program” and serialized in 1933 and 1934 as the Frolics of Youth. Its release to movie theatres by the distribution company, Fox Film Corporation, carries a date of November 24, 1933. It follows the first-released frolic, Merrily Yours, of October 6, 1933. It precedes:

  • Pardon My Pups of January 26, 1934;
  • Managed Money of February 23, 1934.

The four comedy shorts merge in emphasizing and problem-solving challenges which surface when Mr. and Mrs. George Rogers, a job-focused father and a family-oriented mother, juggle mischief from their pre-school daughter, Mary Lou, and stubbornness from their teen-aged first-born, Sonny.


The usefulness of wheelbarrows is not restricted to construction or yard sites: as "What's To Do?" shows, wheelbarrows may also leverage mangled autos.

child's wooden wheelbarrow, France, ca. 1947
child's wooden wheelbarrow, France, ca. 1947


The movie begins with Bentley High election returns initially showing:

  • President: Rogers 75, Vanderpool 350;
  • Vice-president: Smith 260, Dobbs 165;
  • Treasurer: Miller 251, O’Brien 174;
  • Secretary: Hanson 150, Morris 275.

Harry Vanderpool (Kenneth Howell, February 21, 1913 – September 28, 1966), the son of the town's richest man, believes in imminent victory. He casts his vote for the “swell guy” loser, Sonny Rogers (Junior Coghlan, March 15, 1916 – September 7, 2009). Results end up:

  • President: Rogers 501, Vanderpool 500;
  • Vice-president: Smith 677, Dobbs 324;
  • Treasurer: Miller 343, O’Brien 658;
  • Secretary: Hanson 551, Morris 449.

Harry interrupts Sonny’s victory speech with crude noises. Sonny keels over when Harry drives off with a rope attached to Old Ironside’s rear wheels.


Girlfriend Phyllis Dean (Dorothy Thompson Ward, December 4, 1911 – April 14, 1988) handles steering while Sonny wheelbarrows the rear, painted:

  • “Danger: Rear end exposed”;
  • “Needs to be covered by mortgage.”

Sonny’s father, George (Harry Myers, September 5, 1882 – December 25, 1938), and mother (Lila Leslie, January 1, 1890 – September 8, 1940) quash Mutt’s canine ebullience and Phyllis’s celebrations next-door by:

  • Becoming Vanderpool’s Seattle manager;
  • Giving Sonny a dish-washing apron.

Mary Lou (Shirley Temple, April 23, 1928 – February 10, 2014) questions Sonny breaking and not drying dishes. She retrieves -- from the refrigerator’s top -- and tastes a white-frosted cake. George squashes the cake while belt-spanking Sonny. He tells Sonny to go to bed and miss the ballgame.  


Mary Lou (Shirley Temple) is pleased that her Mother gives castor oil to Sonny (Junior Coghlan).

Bottle of castor oil on window sill of bathroom in Keeper's house at Split Rock Lighthouse, northwestern Minnesota
Bottle of castor oil on window sill of bathroom in Keeper's house at Split Rock Lighthouse, northwestern Minnesota



The movie ends with:

  • Sonny escaping twice from bed to foil Harry’s team’s 9 – 3 score;
  • Mrs. Rogers fixing milk and sandwiches;
  • Mary Lou having Mother give Sonny castor oil for panting and running 112°F (44.44°C) temperatures;
  • Sonny over-heating under George’s energetic massages and Mother’s hot-water bottle.

Mary Lou goes for the new doctor around the corner. Phyllis introduces a doctor who diagnoses:

  • Bazoonkas- and esophagus-affected bronchial asthma;
  • Death in damp-aired Seattle.

Mary Lou investigates the doctor’s baseball-filled briefcase. She is kicked while investigating the doctor’s lower half and before plunging a knitting needle into the upper half. George resists belt-spanking anyone after Mary Lou trips the doctor. He welcomes home-office management and Harry’s uncle’s Seattle transfer.


What's to Do

Published on YouTube on March 18, 2013 by AllegroMediaMovies ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU9ytMRAyt8



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Sources Consulted


Black, Shirley Temple. October 1988. Child Star: An Autobiography. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hevesi, Dennis. 3 October 2009. “Frank Coghlan Jr., Child Actor of Silent Era, Dies at 93.” The New York Times: Arts>Television. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/arts/television/04coghlan.html?_r=0

Mendoza, Martha. 2014. “Shirley Temple Obituary.” Legacy Memorial Sites>2014>Actors>Featured Memorial: Shirley Temple. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.legacy.com/ns/obituary.aspx?n=shirley-temple&pid=169632179


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Shirley Temple/Fox Films ~ Shirley Temple American child star of the 1930s: photo from Mary Evans Picture Library 2007

10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces. Packed in black cardboard box 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top.
Photo Jigsaw Puzzle

Shirley Temple, c. 1933

Shirley Temple, c.1933

Shirley Temple, 1933

Shirley Temple (1928-)

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/20/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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