The Poor Little Rich Girl (1912) was a play by Eleanor Gates (1875-1951), later made into a film starring Mary Pickford in 1917 and one for Shirley Temple in 1936. Although the young girl of the story stands to inherit a great fortune, she most wants to play with children of her own age. She is “rich” in money and “poor” in spirit.
The term “poor little rich girl” was applied to Dorothea Edgarita Crouse in 1896. “The loneliness of the ‘poor little rich girl’ who had nobody to play with” was cited in print in 1904. Barbara Woolworth Hutton (1912-1979) was frequently called a “poor little rich girl,” and her biography was titled Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton (1984).
20 November 1896, The Repository (Canton, OH), “An Expensive Child,” pg. 7, col. 4:
Between driving and being prepared for the station she will occupy when she is a young lady with $2,000,000 in her own right this poor little rich girl cannot get much time for dolls, skipping rope or other delights of normal children.
(Dorothea Edgarita Crouse—ed.)
30 October 1904, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Brief Review of New Books and Periodicals,” Sunday Magazine, pg. 2, col. 5:
Mary F. Leonard tells how “It All Came True.” There was a rich but lonely little girl who lived next door to some happy children, who took pity on the loneliness of the “poor little rich girl” who had nobody to play with, and who (Col. 6—ed.) did not have any good times because there was no company for her except a governess, who said she “mustn’t do this” or “ought to do that” when the “mustn’t” was interesting and the “ought to” was poky.
11 November 1906, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, “Twelfth Night Revel.: Italian Tots of Sunday Kindergarten Have Strenuous Time,” pg. 10, col. 3:
Then followed snatches of song about Sister May, who crossed the bridge of gold, and needed praying for, and about one poor little rich girl whose mother was “always busy out in so-ci-et-ee.”
OCLC WorldCat record
The poor little rich girl,
Author: Eleanor Gates
Publisher: New York, Duffield & Co., 1912.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English
Wikipedia: The Poor Little Rich Girl
The Poor Little Rich Girl is a 1917 American comedy-drama film directed by Maurice Tourneur. Adapted by Frances Marion from the 1913 play by Eleanor Gates. The Broadway play actually starred future screen actress Viola Dana. The film stars Mary Pickford, Madlaine Traverse, Charles Wellesley, Gladys Fairbanks (returning from the play) and Frank McGlynn, Sr..
The film was shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey when early film studios in America’s first motion picture industry were based there at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1991, The Poor Little Rich Girl was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The film tells the story of a rich girl whose parents ignore her and whose servants push her around, until tragedy brings them to realize the error of their ways.
OCLC WorldCat record
Poor little rich girl
Author: Shirley Temple; Jack Haley; Alice Faye; Irving Cummings; Sam Hellman
Publisher: Beverly Hills, CA : Fox Video Inc., ©1936, 1994.
Edition/Format: VHS video : VHS tape Visual material : English
Summary: Rich but neglected little Barbara is left adrift in the big city when her companion is involved in an accident. She finds a temporary home with a struggling vaudeville team, and the new trio become a success on the radio.
OCLC WorldCat record
Poor little rich girl : the life and legend of Barbara Hutton
Author: C David Heymann
Publisher: Secaucus, N.J. : L. Stuart Inc., ©1984.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English
Summary: Her grandfather, five-and-dime-store magnate Frank W. Woolworth, called her his “Princess.” Few real princesses lived as lavishly as this cherubic, golden-haired child…
The lost Marshall McLuhan tapes
A recently discovered interview shows media guru McLuhan is still topical, even prescient
by Peter C. Newman on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 9:48am
McLuhan: You remember the old phrase, “Poor little rich girl”? That meant the gal had no chance of climbing from rags to riches because she started off with riches. Therefore the American way of life was denied to her. What are the satisfactions of great wealth? When you can buy a ticket to Hong Kong or to any part of the world, and use the same plane, at the same time, as the richest guy in the world?