On the Good Ship Lollipop

The 1934 film “Bright Eyes” starring Shirley Temple opened in theaters in Wisconsin on Christmas Day. Examples include the Rio Theatre in Appleton, Rivoli Theater in La Crosse, and Kenosha Theater in Kenosha. It opened later in other theaters, including the Oshkosh Theater in early 1935. In this movie, she sang the easily recognizable tune “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” But, what was “the Good Ship Lollipop”? I have conducted an admittedly informal and unscientific survey with a limited number of people over several years. I have yet to find someone who knows the answer to this question. The clipping from the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper below provides the answer.

[The caption for the clipping reads: “Shirley Temple and James Dunn are seen together in ‘Bright Eyes,’ a heart-warming and dramatic story in which Shirley is seen as the mascot of a California airdrome, where every flyer is her daddy after her own crashes down to death.]

The Plot

Shirley Blake (her name in the movie) spends time at the airport with her deceased father’s friends. One of them is “Loop,” her godfather. On Christmas morning, Loop arranges for Shirley to ride on a DC-2 while the plane taxis around the airport. It is on this taxiing airplane that she sings the song. You can watch the entire film at Shirley Temple | Bright Eyes | 1934 - YouTube. The song is roughly at the 30-minute mark in this hour-and-a-half film.

The “Good Ship Lollipop” is an airplane in Shirley’s imagination that she flies to a place full of sweet things. Here is one of the verses:

On the good ship Lollipop

It’s a sweet trip to a candy shop

Where bon-bons play

On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.

The airplane is also the escape vehicle for dreams at night.

On the good ship Lollipop
It's a night trip into bed you hop
And dream away
On the good ship Lollipop

As for the meaning of the song, one commentary states: “The ship itself is a metaphor for a child’s imagination, and the candy shop represents all the wonders and delights of childhood.”

I would be remiss if I did not mention two other Wisconsin lollipop “connections.”


In 1958, the Chordettes—from Sheboygan—had a hit with their song “Lollipop.” Most of you will probably recognize this song. Here is a link to the song that also includes their earlier 1954 hit “Mr. Sandman”: the Chordettes - Lollipop & Mr Sandman (Dick Clark's Beech-Nut Show Feb 22nd,1958)(Stereo) - YouTube

Lollipop Production. Before 1908, lollipops were made by hand. In 1908, the Racine Engine and Machinery Company used a machine that automatically inserted the stick into the piece of hard sugar candy as it was being molded. The machine was known as “The Racine Automatic Sucker Machine.” The machine could make 30,000 lollipops a day.

Final Question

We now know that Shirley Blake’s “Good Ship Lollipop” was an airplane to give flight to her imagination. Do you have a “Good Ship Lollipop?”

Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes
Sheboygan's Chordettes musical group.
Shirley Temple/Bright Eyes as noted in the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper.